“From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Looking back on our middle school days, many Americans studied George Orwell’s classic novel ‘1984.’ At the time, the novel was nothing more than a work of fiction, transporting us to another world. It told of a dystopian world in which the political powers ruled by persecuting individual and independent thought. Through the use of the ‘thought police,’ those who try to hold onto their unique identities are silenced, allowing those who are in charge to create and share their own version of reality so that it is accepted by the masses.
Written in 1984, it’s hard to believe that a time would come that the message of this novel would ring clear, and yet as we took our first steps into 2018 the book graced Amazon’s bestseller list, with both softcover and hardcover versions marked as ‘temporarily out of stock.’ The publicity director at Penguin USA, Craig Burke, told the New York Times that the company has ordered 75,000 new copies of the book to be printed, and were debating another reprint to keep up with the demand. In fact, he stated that the book had reached a 9500% increase in sales in January!
The reason for the spike? Experts speculate that it’s a reflection of the current American population awakening to the state of the country. The first spike in sales came in 2013 when computer programmer Edward Snowden made the news for leaking top secret information from the National Security Agency (NSA). As the current political state raises red flags both about those in power, such as politicians, as well as about the mainstream media, the book has once again seen an increase in popularity.
Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump has triggered an important conversation in the United States today, as the mass population begins to seriously discuss the role of propaganda in our current society. Consider the allegations of election fraud, claims of connections and/or associations with Russia, and the rise of the phrase ‘fake news.’ Regardless of which side of the debate you stand on, the fact that this is such a hot debate is reflective of the distrust that exists for our government today.
As we find ourselves questioning the information that we are being fed from all levels and areas of political power, the American population is able to draw a direct parallel between the dystopian world of ‘1984’ and the United States today. As Prof. Stefan Collini, a professor of intellectual history and an expert on George Orwell at the University of Cambridge explained, “That kind of unreality that is propagated as reality is what people feel reminded of, and that’s why they keep coming back.”
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