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Orwell’s Big Brother: Merely Fiction?

•, by Murray N. Rothbard
 As collectivism sprouted following World War I, many keen observers felt that there was a big difference between the idyllic Edens pictured by Bellamy and Wells and the actual conditions of the various “waves of the future.”

Notable among these revised forecasts of the world of the future were Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Both of their future worlds, evil as they were, had saving graces. Huxley’s future was spiritually dead, but at least the masses were happy; Ayn Rand’s dictators were timid, stupid men who permitted a renascent individualist to escape from the strangling collectivist world and begin life anew.

George Orwell’s plugged all the loopholes. There is no hope at all for the individual or for humanity, and so the effect on the reader is devastating. Orwell’s future is run by a Party whose job is the total exercise of Power, and it goes about its job with diabolic efficiency and ingenuity. The Party represents itself as the embodiment of the principles of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. These principles turn out to be: blind, unquestioning obedience to the Party, and equally blind hatred of any person or group the Party proclaims as its enemy. These emotions are the only ones permitted to anybody; all others, such as personal and family love, are systematically stamped out.

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