If Americans had been reading George Orwell, especially his masterpieces 1984 and Animal Farm, earlier then we might have avoided this mess.
I’m not sure what made me ask for 1984 by George Orwell as a Christmas present back in 2009. I probably read about it somewhere on the internet and decided that it was time to read this oft-touted, yet frequently misunderstood, and misrepresented book. It was right about the time that I was coming to the realization that I was a socialist.
I had outgrown the Democrats and the Republicans were just too anti-intellectual for me. Both parties have done their fair share of lying to the American people. Neither political party–in their present states–are working for our interests first (if they even are at all). So, I rebelled and picked up 1984.
In my honest opinion, the masterful crux of 1984 lies within the following quote:
All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossified or because they grew soft. Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown, or they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have used force and once again were overthrown.
You can always tell the people who didn’t understand the book because they tend to use it for their own partisan, political purposes. In reality, 1984 takes on any kind of fascism, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism, whether it comes from liberals or conservatives. If a reader is able to condense Orwell’s message into a pithy comment extolling the virtues of their own political party, they didn’t comprehend the material, and it went over their heads.
I’ve actually seen this happen and it’s always so maddening. I don’t reread books because it’s not my thing, but Animal Farm and 1984 are two books that I will reread after having lived close to a decade since reading them. A lot has changed, especially who holds the distinction of being President of the United States. My life has changed drastically since I read both books, so my experience will definitely change how I internalize the book.
If it’s been awhile, then I urge you to pick it up. 1984 is a timely and pertinent novel at all times, whether your president is liberal, conservative, or socialist. The ideas contained within the book don’t just come out of nowhere but were inspired by the war and suffering that Orwell saw first hand. It is something of a guidebook that serves to inform us all about what to be weary and cautious of. One must be objective, not subjective, shedding the rigidity of corrupting affiliations, while adopting an ethos that questions all authority and the actions taken by those who wield it.
If you’re the type of person that only questions authority when it doesn’t overtly benefit you, then you will struggle with 1984. If you had a lot to say about Barack Obama and not George W. Bush (or Donald Trump), and vice versa, you will also struggle. Check that bullshit at the door when reading this book. Any and all kind of insipid, banal authority is lampooned and brought to task. If you’re sensitive to that, you could go back to reading Twilight for the umpteenth time.
So, happy reading! You should have read the book a long, freaking time ago. It doesn’t matter anymore, though. You’re reading it now and that’s better than nothing… Or anything by Ayn Rand.