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Eric Blair, born in 1903 in India, was the son of a middle-class English diplomat.
Upon his return to England as a child, Eric witnessed class warfare directed at him from upper-class students at the prep school which he attended. Nonetheless, the teasing and snobbery he experienced during his school years did not deter him in his pursuit of a quality education. Blair would later be accepted at the esteemed Eton in England, but would attend only for a short period of time.
Blair chose instead to join the Indian Imperial Police and was assigned to enforce control over a native population in Burma. Blair was revolted by his role and the police action taken against the Burmese people. He returned to England, resigned his position and made a decision to become a writer.
Blairâ€™s observation of the cruelty and control by people against others would shape most of his adult life. Much of his work was biographical experiences, but the subject matter â€” tyranny v. democracy â€” would make him famous.
Past Burma experiences tortured Blairâ€™s soul and he made a decision to live among the poor. Fearing his parents would read articles and books detailing the squalid living conditions he was undergoing, Eric Arthur Blair would adopt a pen name. George Orwell was born.
Orwell struggled to get his work published. However, following World War II, Orwell found a publisher that agreed to release a caricature of evolutionary tyranny following the Russian revolution. Animal Farm was an enormous success.
But it would be Orwellâ€™s next and last work which tells the story of Winston Smith, a paranoid, lower-level government employee who cannot accept oppression and tyranny. Winston begins keeping a diary of rebellious thoughts. Every inclusion of the diary is done in secrecy, because if discovered, he could be executed.
Winston falls in love with Julia â€” a government employee â€” and the two have a love affair which is prohibited by law. The affair escalates and clandestine attempts are continually under way to conceal the affair away from surveillance.
Winston recognizes other evils such as the rewriting of history, the deception and manipulation of the population, and espionage as a means of controlling behavior. The two become bolder and are drawn to the revolutionary â€śBrotherhood,â€ť an organization supposedly in opposition to â€śBig Brother,â€ť but in reality, an organization infiltrated by thought police designed to trap citizens who have rebellious thoughts.
It turns out that â€śThought Policeâ€ť are everywhere and Winstonâ€™s secret hiding places were not so secret. The two are arrested, tortured, interrogated, re-educated and released back into society to profess their love for â€śBig Brotherâ€ť and await their execution. Winston dies a broken man.
Orwellâ€™s classic 1984 is a warning of the nightmarish tyranny which can develop from a government with designs of absolute power and control over a citizenry unwilling to reject the socialist propaganda of collectivism.
Did we listen?
Today, secretive government agencies â€” with approval of a President, Congress and Court â€” are data mining and storing phone records, emails, medical and bank records of citizens â€” without warrants â€” at an alarming rate. Drones, video cameras and cell phones can record our every move. Bill of Rights freedoms are being curtailed. The FBI and IRS are being used against citizens to silence dissenting voices. Media have become a propaganda tool and politicians have developed their own double- speak to parse and hide their actions and intent.
Translation: Our government knows more about you than you know about yourself. There are â€śTruth Policeâ€ť everywhere, there is no place to hide and your voice is being silenced. â€śBig Brotherâ€ť is watching and listening.
This is not a new development, rather an escalation â€” using new technology and government personnel â€” to annul many of the freedoms and privileges we Americans hold dear. The unalienable rights of a free people can slip away if the right to privacy and right to express oneself is taken for granted by an indifferent citizenry.
â€śI do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe that something resembling it could arrive. Totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere.â€ť
â€” George Orwell
Pray hard America.
Dewey Harrison of Poteau is retired educator from the Pocola School system. He is also a tea party supporter, occasional fisherman and perpetual pessimist about the current state of affairs. To contact Harrison email him at firstname.lastname@example.org