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Orwellian Future....
 
Headlines of the Future
Article discussing George Orwell’s book ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’


Download the entire What Big Brother Has in Store For Us article in pdf format.
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What Big Brother Has in Store For Us

The arguments against a National ID card stand alone, without this section.

Click here for a description of the basic arguments against the ID card.

In this section, we make some predictions about what might be coming our way in terms of Big Brother state control, and further erosion of our privacy and freedom. It may be that not all predictions come true, of course. We have not included predictions which we consider to be ‘fantastic’ or highly unlikely. We feel sure that reading the ‘Future Headlines’ will make you uneasy as they will sound all too familiar.

All of these predictions could easily happen and the signs are already there in many cases, that the process is underway.

There are two main reasons for the state to attack freedom and privacy.

Benevolent: Misguided but well-meaning government gradually eroding our freedoms and privacy because they mistakenly (but honestly) believe it will result in a massive reduction in crime and terrorism.

Malevolent: Government motives ranging from self-serving and power-seeking, all the way through to despotic and dictatorial.

At the time of reading this, the current government could lie anywhere on that continuum. We will leave the reader to discern the motives of whatever government is currently in power and ask themselves if they believe governments to have their best interests at heart.

However, all governments of all persuasions (benevolent and malevolent) in all countries constantly seek increased power and control – often, by the way, for genuinely benign reasons, but often not.

Successive governments-in-waiting in the UK have chattered about ‘rolling back the frontiers of the state’ – but each elected government has done the exact opposite when in power – introduced more laws, higher taxes, more centralisation and stripped away more freedoms.

It is central to our argument that a National ID Card and its associated Citizen Monitoring Database are the ultimate enabling tools for corrupt regimes.

This government may be benign – but the next? And the next fifty governments?

Setting The Scene For Freedom Removal
 
In order to restrict privacy and remove liberty, the state needs a reason or reasons. It does not matter if the reason is factual (benevolent government) or entirely false, spurious or not based on fact (malevolent government). What is important is that the people believe it. You cannot remove freedom and control people without their permission – at least, not for long. (It is a well known fact that all prisons are governed with the permission of the prisoners. Without this, they would be totally ungovernable.)

Here is the main reason which the state have used in the past and will use again.

The Illusory Search For Total Security, Total
Protection and a Crime-Free Society

We all want a safe and secure society. We are all willing to sacrifice some of our more insignificant liberties if large gains in security result. The error is if one believes that total eradication of crime and terrorism is possible – it is not.

We believe in finding a correct balance between preserving our freedom and privacy on the one hand, and satisfying our desire for safety and security on the other.

Such a balance requires wise, benevolent government and constant vigilance from the population. We must be willing to challenge those who would violate our freedom and privacy for their own political or financial gain.

The Price of 0% Crime is 100% Dictatorship

In reality, 100% dictatorship would probably only result in 50% of the current crime level.

0% crime is a total, mythical fantasy.

The main reasons the State use to destroy freedom are all subsets of the (fantasy) desire for ultimate safety and security.

Both benevolent and malevolent states seek to reduce freedom by ‘back door’ methods. Benevolent governments do this because they fear loss of votes, malevolent governments do this because they fear civil disobedience. The result is often the same – the obfuscation of the real motives and the real impact of the legislation.

The method goes something like this (with variations, of course):
    1. Create a problem where non previously existed, or
    2. exaggerate an existing problem.
    3. Ensure that great fear spreads throughout the population about this ‘problem’.
    4. ‘Reluctantly’ bring in draconian powers as a solution to combat the problem.
    5. Ensure that they ‘spin’ the story so that anyone opposing the new laws seems in favour of the problem.
    6. Assure a nervous population that the powers are temporary and restricted.
    7. Wait until the fuss has died down and then make the same powers permanent and widespread.
    8. Start the next round of seeking increased powers and less liberty.
This is called the HEADACHE-ASPIRIN method. In it, you create a headache or exacerbate an existing one. When everyone is focused on the pain, you produce an Aspirin. The grateful population seize upon it.

The state have a limited supply of ‘headaches’ but there are good old stand-byes and never fail to evoke fear in the people. (Note, we are not saying that these problems are not real – it is the scale which is exaggerated for the motive of gaining more control over people.)

For Example:
 
Protecting The Kiddies
Evil Terrorist About to Strike
Criminal Gangs
Innocent People Getting Shot, Mauled by Dangerous Dogs Etc.
Insane Drivers on Our Streets
Muggers Lurking on Every Street Corner
Fraudsters Waiting to Steal Our Money
Money Launderers Raking In Tens of Millions
Drug Dealers Corrupting Society


And so forth.

All of these are real problems which affect society to a certain, limited extent. The problem comes when ill-intentioned governments use our justified fears to manipulate us.

Future Predictions Mainly Based on National ID Card
  • ID card will be brought in by stealth. Government will NOT be up-front about their real intentions. They will hide behind the smoke-screen of ‘trials’ and ‘feasibility’ studies.
  • ID card will be introduced to ‘soft’ targets first. Thus, Social Security Claimants (“You want the money? You have to get a card.”) Then asylum seekers, then criminals, then drivers.
  • When millions are ‘softened up’ to the card, government will wait for the right time (e.g. a terrorist incident) and then ‘reluctantly’ make it compulsory for all.
  • Population will be soothed by having very little contentious data on the card to start with, and very strong safeguards.
  • Once the Citizen Monitoring Database is in place, and not having a card becomes a criminal offence, then it will start.
The following predictions have been written in the form of newspaper headlines and short editorial.
All predictions created 23rd November 2003.

“ID Laws Not Strong Enough, Claims Police Chief.”

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester claims that tens of thousands of people in the UK still do not have a National Identity Card, despite this being a criminal offence, punishable by £2,000 fine or 3 months prison. “They are getting away Scot free,” claims Jack Smith. “These people are laughing at the law and making a mockery of the ID card scheme which is there to protect us all.”

Three months later, a law was introduced increasing the penalties to £10,000 and a year imprisonment. Also traffic wardens, police, post-office workers, VAT inspectors, Social Security Staff and Solicitors were all required to see valid ID prior to dealing with customers, regardless of whether they were claiming services.

“Lack of Health Data on National ID Card Costing NHS £2 Billion a Year” – New Shock Report.

Poor record-keeping, together with lost and deleted files is costing an estimated £2 BILLION pounds a year in lost productivity, a new report claims. “It can take days to locate a patient’s file,” says Dawn Hargreaves, a SRN at a major London Hospital. “Also, if an ambulance goes out to pick up an unconscious person, we have no idea what drugs to give him – he could be allergic, diabetic, anything.”

The report follows calls to have basic health information added to the National Identity Card and added to the controversial Citizen Monitoring Database which so far, only contains name, address and date of birth. Civil Liberties groups are protesting, but James Porter, junior Health Minister said: “I do not see a problem with this. It will save billions, and more importantly, it will save lives.”

Six months later, legislation was passed enabling certain, limited health information to be added to the ID card on a voluntary basis. E.g. ‘at risk’ people could elect to have their medical information added to the card.

“Take Up of Voluntary Medical ID Data ‘Woefully Inadequate’ Claims Minister”

London, Thursday. Health Minister James Porter has slammed the poor take-up of the voluntary scheme to add health records to the National Identity Card. Under the scheme, ‘at risk’ patients (diabetics, etc.) could add medical details to the card, giving them fast access to health services in the case of an emergency. “I can only describe the take-up as pitiful,“ claims Porter. “This is costing the country a small fortune in delays and mix-ups. More importantly, it is costing hundreds of lives each year.” Pressed about whether he was considering making the addition of health data compulsory for all, Mr Porter said: “I have not ruled this out.” Civil Liberty group ‘Liberty’ has called any plans for compulsion a “huge infringement of personal freedom.” Asked to comment, James Porter said: “I am more interested in the freedom of people not to die due to delays in getting them treatment.”

Shortly after, the government passed a Bill requiring the NHS to add all medical records to the National ID Card Database.

“Paedophiles Continue to Work With Children”

According to a recent BBC1 documentary, in which an undercover reporter posed as an applicant for a Children’s Home job, paedophiles still have relatively easy access to vulnerable children. The solution, according to Rick Smith of the group Child Care Action is to amalgamate the National Paedophile Register with the National Citizen Monitoring Database – and put details on every paedophile’s ID card.

“It can take weeks to do a search on every employee,” complains Jill Saunders, care home assistant. “By the time the details are back, we could have employed the person. If their convictions were on the ID card, we could scan the card immediately.”

Children’s Minister Julian Davies commented: “This is certainly an idea we would view favourably. Nothing is more important than protecting our children. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

Legislation was introduced making it mandatory for all paedophiles to have a special code added to their file and ID card notifying ‘authorised users’ of this fact.

“163,419 New Criminals Created Last Year”

Recently released Government statistics show that 163,419 people were fined or imprisoned for failure to apply for the National Identity Card, earning each one a criminal record. Many are protesting on the civil liberties issue. “This is supposed to be a National scheme, not a voluntary scheme,” stated Harry O’Brian, head of technical services for the Citizen Monitoring Database. “We expect, and will eventually get, 100% compliance.”

“A Paedophile Register? Why not a Burglar’s, Muggers, Rapists and Violent Offenders Register?”

In a move likely to anger Civil Liberties Protestors, the government has unveiled controversial new plans to extend the National Paedophile Register to include many other classes of offence. Last Autumn, in the wake of the BBC undercover documentary “Who’s Looking After Your Kids?” legislation was passed forcing paedophiles to add details of their convictions to the Citizen Monitoring Database (and hence on to their ID card). Now, a government Crime Think Tank is proposing the same for burglars, muggers, rapists and other serious offenders.

The employers federation ‘Employ’ hailed the idea. “Our members would certainly want to know if they were employing a violent offender. We have a duty to protect our employees in the work-place and at the moment we have no idea at all of any previous convictions amongst our staff.”

The move was also welcomed by the public. In a recent ICN poll, 87% of people said they would want to know if they lived close to a violent person, a rapist, a mugger or burglar. A police spokesman said: “Only criminals could fear having this data added to their card. The law-abiding citizen has no need to worry.”

The addition of all serious criminal convictions to the National ID Card was mandated shortly thereafter.

“A Step Too Far? Now Insurance History and Driving Convictions to be Added to the ID Card”

In a shock move, the government has announced that from February, the considerable file now held on each one of us on the Citizen Monitoring Computer is to be swelled even further. The file already contains our name, address, date of birth, full health history and any criminal convictions. Now, all details of past insurance claims, and all driving convictions including minor and expired offences are to be added to our file. The insurance industry is currently reeling under a barrage of expensive claims due to the recent terrorist attacks in Central London – ironically, the same attacks that Identity Cards were supposed to stop. They are seeking to cut costs and have appealed to central government to help.

“It’s either this, or the collapse of the insurance industry,” claims one anonymous, but clearly worried insurance spokesperson. “We suffer over ten billion pounds worth of bogus claims each year – it’s got to stop. This would mean cheaper insurance for the honest people. Bona Fide claimants have absolutely nothing to fear from this idea – it is only cheats we are after.”

The Federation of Car Hire Companies (FCHC) agrees: “Each year we lose an estimated £300 million due to not being able to check the driving record of people we hire cars to. This has got to be a step in the right direction.”

Legislation was passed later that year requiring all insurance claims and full driving record to be added to the Citizen Monitoring Database.

“How Far Away is a Cashless Society?”

An article in last week’s Economic News indicated that we could be far closer to a totally cashless society than we think.

Each year, the government lose an estimate £67 BILLION of tax revenue due to the ‘black economy’ – that’s “cash in the back pocket”, to you and me. It’s money which could be spent on hospitals or improving our infrastructure. More billions are moved around as the undetectable proceeds of crime and drug dealing. Add to that the estimated £9 BILLION in counterfeit money currently in circulation, and you have some compelling reasons to get rid of the green, folding stuff.

If cash were abolished, according to David Foley, the world would be a richer, safer, place. Strangely enough, we already have in place a mechanism to get rid of cash in the form of the National Identity Card. “If our bank records were added to the card,” claims Foley “you would have an instant and totally secure way of transferring money or paying for services.” Foley envisages a country in which all purchases, even the humblest, were paid for by the ID Card. And if I want to give money to you? Simple, we both insert our cards into a new-style ‘IDcash’ machine, have our iris scanned (just like we currently do to access all public transport, withdraw money, access health care etc.) type in the amount, and VOILA! - one transfer from my card to yours. Totally secure, totally safe.

Finance Minister Avril Johnson commented: “It’s an interesting idea, but we have no plans to introduce this at present.”

Over the next months, the following series of headlines appeared:

“Government ‘Thinking’ About Cashless Society Idea”

“The only people who might oppose this would be criminals, tax-evaders, fraudsters, drug-dealers and money-launderers.”

“Government to Trial Cashless Society in Birmingham”

The trial has gone very well, People seem to like it. “If it cuts down on mugging, I’m all for it,” said 67 year old Doris Letby of Newgate.

“ID ‘Cash’ the Ultimate Anti Tax Evasion Tool”

“There will no longer be anywhere for tax-evaders to hide. The government hope for 100% tax compliance within 3 years.”

“All Internet Purchases to be by ID Card From Next Year”

“Utility Companies No Longer to Accepting Cash Payments”

“Cash puts our staff at risk of robbery and it is hugely expensive to count, store, sort and bank. This will mean cheaper bills for us all.”

“Counterfeit Tidal Wave Makes Cashless Society Inevitable”

“Cash to be Abolished In Two Years”

“CASH COUNTDOWN! Six Months to Exchange Your Cash For ID Credits. ‘Under-the-Mattress’ Savers Warned.”

“Last Farewell to Cash”

“The Last Tenner? Hundreds Turn Out to See Bank of England Shred the ‘Last’ Ten Pound Note in Circulation.”

A short while later…

“Security Services Have Accessed Our Purchase Records ‘For Years’ Claims Insider”

Ever since cash was abolished and ID credits bought in, Civil Liberties campaigners have warned that this would give ‘Big Brother’ unprecedented powers to monitor and track us by our purchases. Now it seems there might be some truth in their concerns.

An ex-MI5 agent has claimed that he used to ‘routinely’ access the Citizen Monitoring Database looking for terrorist suspects, despite government claims to protect our privacy. “It’s really amazing what you can tell by looking at someone’s purchases,” claims Martin Hunter. “I could tell where you are right now – for example, in a certain pub. I can even tell what make of beer you are drinking and how many pints you’ve had! If you are thinking of driving home, I can tell if you are over the limit – not that that was my province.”

Hunter used to set complicated automatic ‘Terrorist Profile Algorithms’ or TPAs into motion. They would scour tens of thousands of citizen records every minute, looking for ‘suspicious’ activity. When asked what he meant by ‘suspicious’, Hunter responded: “These algorithms are really very, very complicated and I can only give you a hint. Let’s say you have recently bought a plane ticket to a Muslim state, purchased a copy of ‘Guns and Ammo’ magazine in the last three months, done a lot of UK travelling, have a high telephone bill, attend a Mosque, rent violent movies, watch foreign TV stations – that sort of thing. None of these things taken in itself amounts to much, but add 100 or more suspicious things and you have someone who doesn’t quite ‘smell’ right We’d open a file on that person and keep a careful eye on them.” Asked how many files he had opened on citizens in the last year of his job, Hunter was cagey. “I don’t know. Hundreds? Thousands possibly.”

The next three headlines speak for themselves…

“Parliament Bombers Used Fake National Identity Cards to Gain Access to Westminster Palace”

“Counterfeit ID Card Ring Discovered in Taiwan”

“Drug Lords Now Making More on Counterfeit ID Than Drugs, Claims Report”

Back to the future….

“Police Seek Access to ID Purchase Records”

The Home Secretary has proposed sweeping new powers to give the police access to our purchase records held on the National Citizen Monitoring Computer. It is common knowledge that since the abolition of cash, all of our purchases, even the most trivial, have been stored on our ‘citizen file’. The file contains the date, time, place of purchase, item purchased and amount paid – yes even something costing 5p is on your file.

Since the MI5 Hunter trial last year, it has been known that Security Services routinely access these files looking for Terrorist ‘profiles’. Now police are demanding the same powers in their fight against crime. The advantages are spelled out by Police Superintendent Charles Major. “Imagine there has been a sexually motivated murder. At the moment we have to spend thousands of police man-hours doing house-to-house searches and interviews. Imagine we could tap into a computer and get a list of all men who were in a five mile radius of the crime at the time it was committed. Further more, we could sort by known offenders and purchase history – those men who regularly buy sex magazines, rent sex videos – that sort of thing. We could also check all alibis as we can tell everyone’s exact movements by their spending. ”

“Now Police Set to Identify Criminals Before They Strike”

The police are hoping to develop criminal versions of the ‘Terrorist Profile Algorithms’ or TPAs currently used by MI5 to uncover suspected terrorists. Their first target would be PPAs – Paedophile Profile Algorithms and then the inelegantly named VPPA – Violent Persons Profile Algorithm.

“It’s amazing how much someone gives away about themselves through what they purchase,” claims Dr Ali Dessai – advisor to the Metropolitan Police Authority. “Even little things are a give-away about the type of person you are.”

Dessai claims it is now possible to identify paedophile tendencies in people before they are even aware of it themselves. “Our tests show 95% accuracy in predicting abusive behaviour,“ claims Dessai. Under such a system, ‘thought criminals’ would be given the opportunity of voluntary counselling. Those whose profiles showed no change after counselling may be incarcerated to protect children.

“It’s a whole new breakthrough in policing,” says Dessai. “Before, we used to have to wait until someone had committed a crime before we could do anything. Now we can catch the criminals before they can strike.”

“Criminal Purchase Profiles to be Used as Evidence in Court”

In an historic case, Judge John Borrowdale yesterday ruled that the contentious CPPA or Criminal Purchase Profile Algorithm could be used as evidence in support of a guilty verdict. For years the police have used the controversial Paedophile Protection Algorithm to identify potential child-molesters by their purchasing habits, often prior to the person even knowing he might become an offender. But only in the last year has the CPPA been used to track down potential criminals. Now an adverse or ‘suspicious’ purchasing profile can be disclosed to the judge and taken as evidence of guilt.

“Inland Revenue to be Abolished in all But Name Within Five Years”

Since the introduction of Electrocash and ID Credits, tax evasion has become a thing of the past. “It is now literally impossible to evade tax as the Inland Revenue can access every single transaction you make,” claimed a spokesman. All of us will have noticed that when paying money to each other via the IDcash machines, only the amount net of tax ends up being transferred. “We now take all tax, automatically at source – only a tiny handful of people now complete a tax return, there’s no point because we know everything already!”

The extra £80 billion raised each year and the dramatic drop in staff required means that the entire Inland Revenue can now be staffed by less than 100 people, excluding computer maintenance staff (estimated at 11,000). The current basic tax rate of 67% is seen by many as being too high – but now there is truly no place left to hide.

“Police Now Demanding Powers to ‘Freeze’ Citizens”

Gone are the days when police officers had to go to the bother of actually arresting a suspect for a crime. Now, at the touch of a button, police could ‘freeze’ any citizen and require him or her to report to a police station. Not literally freeze of course, but with the abolition of cash it is actually impossible to survive in our society without an IDCashCard. Even a packet of gum must be paid for with the card. It is impossible to travel (apart from walking) or access any service, public or private, without the iris scan which has become so much an irritating part of our daily lives.

So if you want to ‘arrest’ someone, all you need to do is freeze their ID card. Simple. No purchases are possible and life becomes rapidly unliveable. Sure, a few might hole-out for a day or even a week. But the police are a patient bunch. Eventually the citizen will dutifully report for interrogation.

“We have a particular problem with what the popular press call ‘thought criminals’, although I don’t like that term myself,’ says Detective Rosser. “Profile Scans reveal they have criminal tendencies, but when notified, only about half turn up for the voluntary re-education classes. The others are getting away with it and could perform a criminal act at any moment. They are like time-bombs waiting to go off.”

The new technology would ensure that these ‘potentials’ as they are also known, were frozen out of society until they had undergone re-education, at which point their privileges would be re-instated.

“Non-Voters to Have Citizen Privileges Removed”

In a shock announcement, government Minister for Political Education Michael Donner stated the government’s intention to force everyone to vote in the next and subsequent General Election. Citizens would have 24 hours to vote on Polling Day. If no vote was registered, their citizenship would be revoked in a similar way that the police currently use to arrest suspects and ‘potentials’ until they voted.

“If you want the benefits and privileges of our society, you must also do your duty and vote. You can’t have it both ways,” stated Donner. Asked about what are commonly called ‘dissidents’ – people who thought that two parties New Tories, and Newer Labour were basically the same and did not want to vote for either, Donner was dismissive. “They will have to vote. They have a perfectly good choice at the moment, I’m sorry if anarchism is not one of them.”

Cynics have pointed to the all-time low voter turnout at the last election as deeply embarrassing to the legitimacy of government. Only 29% of people recently voted the New Tories into power.

“Super Miniature ‘Under The Skin’ ID Card to be Trialled”

Say goodbye to those irritating iris scanners which ask you three times for a scan and then give up, forcing you to wander around looking for a working machine. Now, they could be a thing of the past. A Cambridge company, InjectaChip, has announced a National identity card the size of a grain of rice. Powered by body heat and the faint solar radiation which penetrates the skin’s surface, the chip can contain 100x the information currently held on the ID card. Such a device can be implanted under the skin and sealed in such a way that it is impossible to remove or tamper with. Forgotten or lost ID cards, with the constant threat of a prison term, would be a thing of the past as well. The new chip is set to go on trial within the month.

“ID Chip to be Implanted at Birth”

Following InjectaChip’s highly successful trial of their ‘under the skin’ biometric chip, the government are set to announce legislation for the new standard to be implemented within three years. They describe the operation as totally painless and quick, giving people freedom to move around without worrying about carrying ID. “We want more freedom for people,” a government spokeswoman claimed. The chip is to be injected into the scalp, under the hair line. The brain, apparently, gives off more heat than any other part of the body, and this is required to power the chip. A spokesperson admitted that bald people might have an ‘insignificant bump’ after having the chip implanted, but those of us with a full head of hair would notice nothing. Implantation would do away with the much complained-about iris scan. The chip can be detected from up to 10 meters away, and the data read by a small and cheap hand-held scanner. Moves are afoot to implant the chip into all new born babies starting from next August.

“Government Denies Brain Chip Can be Triggered to Produce Unconsciousness”

The government have been asked to come clean about rumours that Injectachip’s bio brain chip which we now all have, has a secret ‘back door’ allowing government agents to send an electrical signal into a target brain, causing immediate unconsciousness. Advocates have claimed this would be useful in detaining violent offenders, immobilising hostage-takers, etc. When asked for a comment, a Ministry of Homeland Security spokesman described the rumours as ‘absolute nonsense’.

Government Admits Brain Chip Can be Triggered to Produce Unconsciousness

In a startling turnabout, caused by whistle-blower Derek Henderson, the government have admitted that the bio ID chip implanted in our heads has the capacity to render a victim instantly unconscious. “This would never be used against an innocent citizen and we do not want to be alarmist,” an MOHS spokesman said. “This is for use in extreme hostage situations or with very violent people whom we cannot control, any other way. If you are not violent, or a terrorist or hostage-taker, you really have nothing to fear. We have adequate safeguards in place to ensure that this can never be used accidentally. For example, two police officers have to both agree to the immobilisation before entering the Citizen ID Number.”

“Brain Chip Can be Tracked by Satellite”

The new generation bio ID implants can be tracked by satellite giving the government pinpoint information as to the whereabouts of each UK citizen. “In theory, we can tell where you are to within 10 meters,“ said Gavin Butler, InjectaChip’s Head of Development. “But between you and me, it’s a bit weather dependent and 50 meters is probably a more accurate guess.”

Advocates hail the new technology as being indispensable in arresting criminals, finding lost children, and missing persons.

Research indicates that well over 80% of people who go missing actually want to stay missing, but a spokesperson for “Contact” a missing-persons bureau stated: “That’s ridiculous. Who could want to go missing deliberately from our society. It’s a wonderful society…”

Download the entire What Big Brother Has in Store For Us article in pdf format.
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George Orwell’s Book 1984

By Stuart Smith

Download entire George Orwell article in pdf format.
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It is now many years since 1984; a year that seemed to George Orwell as far away as 2030 seems to us now.

I would wager that if you have ever read 1984, then it was many years ago. If you have not read it, then this is surely a ‘must read’ as soon as you possibly can.

The book is ultimately a very depressing one, but a stark reminder of how liberty and freedom can be eliminated in the name of security and safety.

Let me remind you briefly of the story. Some sections I think are spookily relevant today. Remember, this was written in 1949 - over fifty years ago.

The World of 1984
 
Orwell envisions a world in which the West has fallen under the spell of a totalitarian socialist dictator, Big Brother. A political demagogue and religious cult leader all rolled into one, Big Brother's power and mystery are so immense that one may wonder if he even exists at all.

Big Brother's Ingsoc Party (English Socialism) has perfected the use of high-level technology to monitor the lives of its populace, and to ensure unswerving loyalty through surveillance, propaganda and brainwashing. (Although we have not yet reached anything like 1984’s mass surveillance, we are certainly moving swiftly along that route with our current two million spy cameras, ability to tap any telephone in the country, and plans for compulsory ID cards.)

The government's most brilliant and most appalling project is the deconstruction of the English language into Newspeak, the language of the Party. Each successive edition of the Newspeak Dictionary has fewer words than its predecessor. Thus the words ‘terrific’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘fantastic’ (and many similar) are replaced by their newspeak equivalent of good, doublegood and doubleplusgood. ‘Terrible’, ‘awful’, ‘appalling’ are replaced with ungood, doubleungood, doubleplusungood, and so forth.

By removing subtle meaning and nuance from the vocabulary, the government hopes to eradicate seditious and antisocial thinking before it even has the chance to enter a person's mind. Without the vocabulary for revolution, there can be no revolution.

Thought Crime
 
For those who persist in thinking for themselves, so-called Thought Criminals, Ingsoc's storm troopers, the Thought Police, are there to intervene, incarcerating the freethinkers in the Ministry of Love, where most are vapourised with every trace of their existence removed from the records. Some are re-educated and released for a year or two before then being vapourised.

The most intrusive daily aspect of life in Oceania (as Orwell calls the European/American mega-state) are the omnipresent telescreens; two-way interactive televisions that cannot be turned off, and which give the government a faceless surveillance window into everyone's life. (Again consider the millions of spy cameras installed and currently being installed in every public place…)

Who is on the other side of the telescreens? Are people watching? Is all the monitoring done by machine? All we learn is that members of the Inner Party, the elite, are allowed to turn off their telescreens, if only for a brief period.

Society is constantly at war (compare with ongoing ‘war on terrorism’) which keeps the population cowed, subservient, sacrificial and willing to accept constant shortages.

Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell's novel, becomes a Thought Criminal. He is a minor bureaucrat (an Outer Party member) whose job it is to rewrite the archives of the London Times so that they are consistent with current Ingsoc policy. If Big Brother makes a speech which predicts a victory on the Eastern front, and a small victory occurs instead on the Western front, Winston’s job is to retrospectively rewrite the speech to show Big Brother correctly predicting the Western front victory.

When Ingsoc changes its political alliance with another superpower and begins waging war on a former ally, Winston's job is to rewrite all the prior information to show that the old alliance never existed.

So broken are the minds of the people that they don't even realise these changes have been made. A sad, lonely man, Winston is also smart enough to understand the insidious manipulation being perpetrated on the society.

The Sting
 
Winston becomes a victim of the government's most ingenious trap. He obtains a copy of a banned revolutionary tract by the famous enemy of the State, Goldstein. Galvanised and inspired by what he reads, he pursues an illicit love affair with a co-worker, Julia, and seems to find an ally in the person of Inner Party official O'Brien.

Longing for an escape from this terrible world to a better life, he does not realise that he has been set-up. O'Brien is actually the head of the Thought Police. It is he who has written Goldstein's book for the purpose of luring potential revolutionaries out of the closet and into the dreaded Room 101 - a torture chamber where one's worst fears are made real.

Totally broken, brainwashed and reprogrammed (so suggestible that he is even made to agree that "2+2=5"), Winston is returned to society as another harmless devotee of Big Brother. In the chilling final pages of the book, Winston, tears of joy streaming down his face, proclaims his love for Big Brother, all thoughts, hopes or dreams of escape and freedom permanently eradicated from his consciousness.

Here are some quotes from the book, some of which seem chillingly clairvoyant:

Quotes From 1984

"There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means."

"The Lottery, with its weekly payout of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the Proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of Proles for whom the Lottery was the principal, if not the only reason for staying alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts and lucky amulets..."

"Pictures and posters on every corner, reminding citizens of Oceania that Big Brother is always watching them."

"Down in the street, little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere."

"Helicopters skimming down between the roofs, a sign of the police patrol, snooping into people's windows."

"Never…quite enough to eat, one never had socks or underclothes that were not full of holes, furniture had always been bad and rickety, rooms under-heated, tube trains crowded, houses falling to pieces, bread dark-coloured… nothing cheap and plentiful. Decaying, dingy cities where underfed people shuffled to and fro in leaky shoes, in patched-up nineteenth-century houses that smelt always of cabbage and bad lavatories."

"Marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee appointed for the purpose…[and] permission was always refused if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another."



Here are some more features of that society:
  • Most people lived in slums.
  • Amid the decaying buildings in London, there is singing, banners, dancing, speeches, drums, trumpets, marching, posters, and films during Hate Week.
  • Government is divided into four ministries:
    Ministry of Truth (Minitrue): concerned with news, entertainment, education, and the arts.
    Ministry of Peace (Minipax): concerned with war.
    Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty): responsible for economic affairs.
    Ministry of Love (Miniluv): maintained law and order.
  • There are no laws within Oceania but if certain actions are detected they could be punishable by death or by twenty-five years in a forced labour camp.
  • Oceanian philosophy is based on Ingsoc, otherwise known as "English Socialism". The sacred principles of Ingsoc are: Newspeak, Doublethink, and the mutability of the past.
  • The social structure within Oceania is pyramidal and at the apex of pyramid is Big Brother: infallible, all powerful; given credit for everything.
  • Each Party member has a telescreen within their home that monitors every move they make. It cannot be turned off.
  • Party members are forced to wear an expression of quiet optimism when facing the telescreen.
  • They wear blue overalls, the uniform of the Party.
  • They are given a small amount of coupons to trade in for clothing, food, etc.
  • They are constantly under the watch of the Thought Police.
  • They have to participate in a ‘two minute hate’ each day. The program varied from day to day but Goldstein is always the principal figure of hate. He delivers "usual venomous attack upon the doctrine of the Party…denouncing the dictatorship of the Party". Party members were then expected to break out in rage and leap up and down chanting "B-B…B-B"
  • They were always being watched for "symptoms of unorthodoxy."
  • Each morning, they awoke to "an ear-piercing whistle" from the telescreen. They were then prompted to take part in various exercises from an instructor on the telescreen. When doing these exercises, known as Physical Jerks, they could never show any dismay or resentment.
  • Party members worked in one of the four ministries: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, or Miniplenty.
(Winston Smith, worked in Minitrue. His job was to ‘rectify’ history by rewriting the newspapers. )
  • Workers would have a regulation lunch washed down with cheap, oily gin.
  • The Party members were brainwashed into believing anything the Party told them to believe. This was achieved through doublethink. They believed what the Party told them, even though they knew that the opposite of what was being told to them existed. The Party lied to them, telling them that the quality of life was increasing, even though they knew it was decreasing. Although they knew the truth, they were forced to believe it. (p62)
  • You could not trust anybody for fear that they would report you to the Thought Police and you would be vaporised (p65). This held true within families as well. Children were all members of The Spies - a junior informants league.
  • You could not let your thoughts wander in public places or in front of telescreens because facial features may not be perfectly under control. This was known as facecrime and could result in arrest. (p65)
Winston described his daily life as "slogging through dreary jobs, fighting for a place on the Tube, darning a worn-out sock, cadging a saccharine tablet, [and] saving a cigarette end."
  • Day and night the "telescreens bruised your ears with statistics that people today [were better] than the filthy people of fifty years ago."
  • The Party told its members to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears.
  • Party members could not do anything that suggested a liking for solitude. They were expected to be at the Community Centre or participating in some kind of "communal recreation" in their spare time. It was dangerous to have an ownlife which, in Newspeak, referred to individualism and eccentricity.
  • Party members were forced to believe what the Party told them simply because they didn't understand "the enormity of what was demanded of them." By lack of understanding, they remained sane.
  • The only purpose for marriage among Party members was to beget children for service of the Party. The Party tried to kill the sex instinct, to distort and dirty it for the purpose of suppressing sexual feelings among Party members.
  • Party members had no privacy. "Privacy…was a very valuable thing."
What was the nature of life for the Proles?

I have put in bold, items which seem rather relevant today!
  • "Nobody cares what the proles say."
  • The Party does not see them as human beings but rather as animals.
  • The "Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules."
  • They are expected to work and breed because their other activities were of no importance. As such, they were left to themselves.
  • They were only concerned with "heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer and, above all, gambling."
  • They were not difficult to keep under control because the Thought Police would move among them spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating people who were possible threats or becoming dangerous.
  • They lived with high crime, alcohol and drug use.
  • They often went to the pubs or "drinking-shops".
  • The younger proles were fooled into buying things that they thought were pornographic and illegal, but which were not and were, in fact, produced by the Party.
  • Songs were published for the benefit of the Proles by a subsection of the Music Department without any human intervention but instead by a machine called a versificator. Songs were simple, meaningless, repetitive, catchy and sung endlessly by the proles. Music was made by a ‘comupter’ rather than by a human, illustrating the absence of care from the Party toward the Proles.
They were, above all, expected to continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding and dying without any impulse to rebel.

Is Big Brother Already Here?
 
I hope you got the same unsettled feeling which I had when reading through that list. Although not all of these things are features of our society, many are. In particular notice how Big Brother controls the party members in 1984. The most important weapon is the destruction of the rational mind. George Orwell recognised that the rational mind is man’s tool of survival. Without it, he either becomes an automaton or perishes.

Big Brother knows that he must subvert a person's individuality. This is why ‘doublethink’ is one of the central pillars of party doctrine. Doublethink means thinking the opposite of what your senses and rational mind tells you is true. (The Party told its members to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears.)

In Orwell’s society, individualism is the biggest sin.

How do you destroy a man’s sense of self-worth? First you must undermine his rational mind - force him to stop thinking. Tell him that force is love, freedom is slavery, God is truth, poverty is wealth. Next you must systematically destroy all the things which give him pleasure. The joy of productive work must be corrupted into a meaningless life of tedium and drudgery in which you are never certain if your work has any meaning or value. Indeed, the results of your work are whisked away into a black hole and you are never allowed to know what happened to your labours, or even if they were used.

There is a parallel with taxation here – the enforced removal of your life’s labours and their redistribution in ways which you neither know or necessarily approve of.

Sex
 
What else gives a person pleasure?

Take sex. This is the ultimate selfish act in which two people engage for their own selfish pleasure. If you ever doubt this, imagine trying to enjoy sex out of ‘duty’ or purely for the pleasure of another. If you want to destroy a person’s sense of self-esteem and worth, you must attack sex. You cannot leave such an obviously joyful and selfish experience free from attack.

In Orwell’s novel, Big Brother knows he must subvert the feelings of joy and self-worth which people feel when making love, so sex is portrayed by the party as dirty and disgusting. Women are encouraged to wear the sash of the Anti Sex League. The only excuse for engaging in sex is out of duty to the party, to provide the next generation of party members. You should not enjoy sex. Indeed, the less you feel sexually attracted to your partner, the better and more moral you are in the eyes of the party.

Does this sound anything like any major world religion you know?

What is the intention of Big Brother? To eat away at a man’s self esteem. To turn him into cog in the party’s machinery, existing not for his own pleasure, but to serve others. You cannot force a man to bow his head as long as he can experience the selfish pleasure of sex. You now know the sick motive behind religious exhortations to ‘chastity’ and to describing ‘lust’ (= joy) as a major sin. One can only wonder at the pure evil and hatred for all mankind lurking behind such exhortation.

Privacy
 
How else do you attack a man’s mind and prevent him from thinking?

Do not allow him any time alone.

Make sure that as far as possible his every waking moment is filled with something otherwise he will have time to think. Thoughts are dangerous, hence the ‘Thought Police’. BB realises that any thinking man can see straight through the illusion, smoke and mirrors to the small man operating the levers and dials.

In Orwell’s world “Privacy…was a very valuable thing.” The plan was not to watch people all the time, for such a thing is technically difficult and very manpower intensive. You don't need to watch people all the time. It is enough that people know they could be watched at any time but will never know exactly when. Orwell handles this brilliantly. Just as in our society, there are spy cameras everywhere. Some hidden, some overt. Are they switched on? Is anybody watching? What percentage of the cameras are in use at any one time? Are there people behind the lenses or machines? Nobody knows, and this is Big Brother’s plan exactly. Because you never know whether you are being watched, you must always behave as though you are. This ensures BB’s total control over the party members.

What are the parallels today?
 
Obviously we do not have two-way telescreens in everyone’s home (yet!), but in Orwell’s day there was no such thing as CCTV. Now we live in a society with millions of surveillance cameras and similar number of ‘speed’ cameras. These cameras monitor and track our movements. In BB’s society, the cameras were there overtly to monitor party loyalty and catch ‘thought criminals’. In our society they are there to ‘catch criminals’ and to monitor us ‘just in case’ we get up to anything.

Is there any real difference?

How long will it be before out televisions really are two-way?

Already, millions are connected to the Internet and the distinction between your home PC and your television is becoming blurred. With a compulsory National Identity Card relying on iris scan, how long before your TV has an iris scanning device in it linked back to the central government Citizen Monitoring Database? There are many reasons why this might happen. You want to download the latest movie? Put your eye to the screen, get it scanned and it will be charged to your bill. You want to pay for on-line services or goods? Ditto.

Our surveillance is not yet total and we can still snatch some privacy in some public areas; but in a few short years, perhaps even already, we will ask many of the same questions as the Party members asked in 1984. Are we being watched all the time? Which cameras are switched on? Who, exactly, is watching?

What next?

Language
 
You deny a man pleasure and self-esteem, you take up every waking minute of his life in trivial endeavours (watching soaps, violent films etc.?), you deny him privacy and make him deny reality. What else do you need to destroy if you are to prevent a man from thinking?

Language.

Most importantly, sophisticated, subtle language to allow a person to untangle the complex lies which society passes off as truth. So Big Brother makes an all-out attack on language, rendering it crude and incapable of expressing complex thoughts.

“By removing meaning and nuance from the vocabulary, the government hopes to eradicate seditious and antisocial thinking before it even has the chance to enter a person's mind.”

Whilst our language is hugely sophisticated compared to Newspeak, consider the alarming trend towards “Eastenders” English and ‘text speak’ with its crudity, banal clichés and limited vocabulary. It’s just an observation.

The Law
 
Another frightening parallel is the law.

“There are no laws within Oceania but if certain actions are detected they could be punishable by death or by twenty-five years in a forced labour camp.”

What does this mean? There are no laws, but there are dire consequences for breaking...what?

This is a pure example of a non-objective legal system and a stroke of genius on Orwell’s part to realise that a society with no laws, but only punishments represents the ultimate legal evil. A weaker author would have gone for harsh, brutal laws, but Orwell realised that such a system would be preferable to the horror he selected for 1984’s legal system.

If you wanted to invoke fear in the population, certainly you should not have a rational set of objective rules with a corresponding set of punishments, no matter how harsh.

Why?

Because this would bring certainty and stability. The legal system would be fair and obvious. Every person would know what the law was, why it was there and what the sanction would be for breaking a law.

Thus people could go about their lawful business, secure in the knowledge that they would be safe from arbitrary government whim, but this is no good for controlling people.

There are two ways of inducing fear in people and controlling their behaviour through the law, apart from the obvious and crude example of draconian laws for minor infractions:
    1. Like in Oceana, you have NO laws. No written laws, that is. Every man now walks in stark terror of transgressing some arbitrary unwritten rule or regulation, He can be arrested and imprisoned on a whim. If he protests, his accuser can say: “You should have known that what you did was wrong. You don't need it spelling out for you. You’re an intelligent person. There is only one crime and that is doing anything which the government does not like. It is up to you to anticipate what that might be. You are here to serve the state, so do not protest at our treatment of you.”

    2. Like in our society, you have thousands upon thousands of laws, many of which are conflicting, arbitrary and plain wrong. There should be little or no consistency. The average man should have no chance of understanding the law. He should require a ‘high priest’ (lawyer) to mediate between him and the state. The laws should be written in a way to make them completely incomprehensible. They should be densely packed into dozens of volumes of small type making them absolutely unapproachable. No man should know exactly what is legal and exactly what is illegal. Laws should not be based on principle, but should be based on arbitrary ‘mood of the moment’ whim. Thus it should be illegal to murder your neighbour, but legal to murder some foreigners in their own country as long as you wear the right coloured clothes (uniform). It should be illegal for you to use force to take a person’s money, but legal for the government to do the same to you, and illegal for you to resist. It should be legal to take dangerous drugs like alcohol but highly illegal to smoke Pot or take Heroin. It should be legal for two consenting adults to have sex, but illegal to arrange this encounter for payment.
Finally
 
It has been many years since George Orwell wrote 1984. It is a great pity he chose that title. The year came and went, and now the title seems ‘old’ whereas it was, of course, highly futuristic when it was written (it’s like calling a book ‘2050’ now).

Since the year 1984, the book has decreased in popularity, yet the message is truer now than ever. I think we are slipping closer into Orwell’s vision of the future.

We are not given much history in the novel (history is not something Party members are encouraged to study, and in any case it has all been rewritten by the Ministry of Truth), but of course Big Brother did not seize power overnight and telescreens were not installed in a week.

It would have started with some telescreens, just to watch ‘the most dangerous enemies of Big Brother’. This would have been extended to all Party members on the grounds that: “What could any loyal party member possibly fear from such surveillance? Either you are true to Big Brother, or you are not. If you fear the screens then you have something to hide and are a threat to society.”

If I made this analogy with our society, even a few years ago, it would have seemed ludicrous. Yet this would not go amiss if heard, almost word for word, from the lips of a chief constable justifying the latest CCTV camera spying scheme. He would say something like this: “Only criminals need fear these cameras. Law-abiding citizens have nothing to be afraid of. If you are not up to anything, you will be left alone to get on with your business.”

Orwell has a frightening message for us all. It is a ‘wake up’ call. I urge you to read again this classic work.

Download entire George Orwell article in pdf format.
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Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
Penguin Books ISBN 0-141-18735-2
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