10 George Orwell Quotes That Predicted Life In 2014 America

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Justin King (of The Anti-Media) via The Burning Platform blog,

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George Orwell ranks among the most profound social critics of the modern era. Some of his quotations, more than a half a century old, show the depth of understanding an enlightened mind can have about the future.

 

1)  “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”

Though many in the modern age have the will to bury their head in the sand when it comes to political matters, nobody can only concern themselves with the proverbial pebble in their shoe. If one is successful in avoiding politics, at some point the effects of the political decisions they abstained from participating in will reach their front door. More often than not, by that time the person has already whatever whisper of a voice the government has allowed them.

 

2)  “All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”

Examining the nightly news in the run up to almost any military intervention will find scores of talking heads crying for blood to flow in the streets of some city the name of which they just learned to pronounce. Once the bullets start flying, those that clamored for war will still be safely on set bringing you up-to-the-minute coverage of the carnage while their stock in Raytheon climbs.

toldyouso

 

3)  “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”

It’s pretty self-explanatory and while it may be hard to swallow, it’s certainly true. All it takes is a quick look at who benefited from the recent wars waged by the United States to see Orwell’s quip take life.

 

4)  “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

My most prized books are a collection of history books from around the world. I have an Iraqi book that recounts the glory of Saddam Hussein’s victory over the United States in 1991. I have books from three different nations claiming that one of their citizens was the first to fly. As some of the most powerful nations in the world agree to let certain facts be “forgotten,” the trend will only get worse. History is written by the victor, and the victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

Huffington Post journalist detained by military police in Ferguson, Missouri

 

5)  “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Even without commentary, the reader is probably picturing Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning. The revolutions of the future will not be fought with bullets and explosives, but with little bits of data traveling around the world destroying the false narratives with which governments shackle their citizens.

 

6)  “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.

Make no mistake about it; if an article does not anger someone, it is nothing more than a piece. Most of what passes for news today is little more than an official sounding advertisement for a product, service, or belief.

ryangrim

 

7)  “In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer…

In every conflict, it is not the side that can inflict the most damage, but the side that can sustain the most damage that ultimately prevails. History is full of situations in which a military “won the battles but lost the war.

 

8)  “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Haditha. Panjwai. Maywand District. Mahmudiyah. These names probably don’t ring a bell, but it is almost a certainty that the reader is aware of the brutality that occurred in Benghazi. The main difference is that in the first four incidents, those committing the acts of brutality were wearing an American flag on their shoulder.

(Answer: D)

 

9)  “Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

Everyday there is a new form of censorship or a new method of forcing people into self-censorship, and the people shrug it off because it only relates to a small minority. By the time the people realize their ability to express disapproval has been completely restricted, it may be too late. That brings us to Orwell’s most haunting quote.

bootface

 

10)  “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Once the people are indoctrinated with nationalistic beliefs, and the infrastructure to protect them from some constantly-changing and ever-expanding definition of an enemy is in place, there is no ability for the people to regain liberty. By the time all of the pieces are in place, not only is opportunity to regain freedom, but the will to achieve freedom has also evaporated. The reader will truly love Big Brother.

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Jack Burton's picture

I read "1984" in High School. Since then I have seen it come to pass in America. Not in a literal sense, but the foundations have been layed, and a simple order could put it into full effect. Also, in other senses, we are already worse than "1984", the NSA has advanced into higher levels of spying than "1984". The war on terror has launced perpetual war. The US support of Al-Qaeda and Radical Islamic Jihad where and when it fits us foreign policy goals is typical of shifting enemies that are created and changed using media liars.

It will only get worse form here on in.

Bioscale's picture

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

I agree with the camp we are more in the "Brave New World" dystopia. Everyone is stoned and unlimited amount of porn/orgies to go around. 1984 is the future though on our current track.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Orgies are for the wealthy, beautiful and banksters. For the rest of us, 1984 and celibacy is here. Ohh, I forgot Barry and his man-love.

JRobby's picture

Eloi girls very accomodating

AldousHuxley's picture

then to achieve nirvana, you have to become a retarded monkey or a pebble?

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Actually, ZH did an article some time ago, comparing 1984 and BNW ("Brave New World) with real America, and determined that both are present.

Rather than heeding the warnings from each book, they've used them for Inspiration.

John Wilmot's picture

Well...

Unlike Orwell, Huxley wasn't really opposed to the world he was describing. He was part of the set bringing it about. He was merely describing what he thought would happen; what he knew that his set were working to bring about. So, in a way, it was a kind of instruction manual.

cape_royds's picture

I'm not sure about that, JW.

I think Huxley was indeed horrified by the prospect of what he was satirizing.

Perhaps it tells us how far gone we are, and indeed why we are where we are, that what horrified Huxley is something we consider too ordinary to find more than mildly disquieting.

Orwell himself also criticized the modern vision of consumerist hedonism, in his essay, "Pleasure Spots." Fulltext is available online:

http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/spots/english/e_spots

Read that article and then think of Las Vegas...

It is also interesting that Orwell satirized a consumerist suburbia, before such things had become common. It's in one of the later chapters of his 1938 novel, "Coming Up for Air."

John Wilmot's picture

Orwell was himself a socialist (though of the naive sort who didn't understand that socialism is essentally "a boot stomping on a human face forever" - like John Lennon, nice fellow, naive), so it's not surprising that he attacks "consumerism." As for Huxley, I don't have anything to throw out off-hand, but I'd challenge you to find any quote of Huxley where he actually denounces the society he wrote about in BNW.

Memedada's picture

And you’re an enlighten right-wing realist? And the track record of right-wing ideologies are ‘freedom-loving democracies’?

Orwell was not naïve – in any of the definitions of the term. He knew exactly what the threats of (any) ideologies were. He went to Spain and participated in the civil war on the side of the extreme left-wing AOUM and CNT. They fought the communists just a fiercely as the fascist. Many of his works were about the threat of totalitarianism from communist and fascist alike.

He believed in democratic socialism. Not naïve at all. Actually the only fair (and most effective) way to organize a society’s economy. In a capitalist society needs are equated with purchasing power. That means, that you produce more to those who have more and less to those who have less – a stupid way to distribute the resources of a society. In democratic socialism the people of a society collectively owns the means of production. This has been tried multiple times – and there are many current examples. All much more effective than the capitalist production form. Syndicalism is perhaps a better term to describe the economic system in a democratic socialist society.

Democratic socialism is not naïve – it’s a viable solution.

Global Observer's picture

Democratic socialism is not naïve – it’s a viable solution.

Viability or not of any system depends on the society. Any kind of a collectivist solution is viable only when there is a collective that the members feel part of and are willing to give up something for including willingness to defer to someone else's ideas in the event of a disagreement. No such solution exists where most are not willing to give anything to the collective and believe the collective exists for individual benefit, as most Americans do.

Memedada's picture


That is very true. Democratic socialism can only happen as a part of a cultural shift – a shift of paradigm.

Actually it would demand a new enlightenment.

But such major changes in human consciousness, political structures and etymological paradigm have happened many times in our history.


 

 

Clarabell's picture

Good observation! I think that Democratic Socialism always works best in countries with homogeneous populations such as the Scandinavian countries. There has to be a common sense of culture, kinship and probable race for it to work.

ebear's picture

"In democratic socialism the people of a society collectively owns the means of production."

Fine, but who decides what gets produced? Do we vote to decide how much steel we make this year?  How do we come to that determination, and what happens if we're wrong and produce more than we can use?  Does everyone then vote themselves a pay cut to make up the difference?  Good luck with that.

I really don't think you've thought this through.


Memedada's picture


Production in a democratic socialist system is of course a part of the democratic decision making process. The fact that decisions regarding production in a capitalist society is left for a small handful of people (and no: it’s NOT the market that decides – another illusion sustained by many right-wingers) is part of the problem solved by democratic socialism.

In capitalism there’s an incentive to overproduce (make-up false demands/advertising) and underproduce (cartels seeking to jack up prices or to ignore real demands – not the fake ‘market demands’). And at the same time production in a capitalistic society is – by intent – of lower quality. There’s a huge incentive to make products go obsolete and to break apart (planned obsolescence).

So in short: yes, you vote. If you work on a production plant you have a say in what (and how) is produced. Most syndicates vote for a group of people to make the day-to-day decisions (a democratic elected steering committee or something like it). But I would see it as a strength to let all the workers/parts of an organization decide on the ambitions and goals of the organization (including how much should be produced and to what quality).

The democratic decisions regarding production is only necessary in regard to necessities (food/drink, shelter, heat, power, health, infrastructure etc.). Production of lesser importance (that makes up the majority of the production in capitalist societies) doesn´t have to be democratically controlled because it doesn’t (per se) have to have ‘democratic results’ (=some people starving and others becoming too fat).


 

 

gwiss's picture

Oh for God's sake, man.  It's like you have no conception of how human nature works.  The system you describe sounds great -- except you forgot to apply the aspects of human nature that encourages the overproduction and underproduction in capitalism.  Are you under the impression that "Democratic Socialism" somehow eliminates human nature?  You appear to be.  It's like you think Democracy is the magical unobtainium that you add to human nature to forge a much better alloy.

 

Truth is, human nature is messy.  All networked systems of self organizing complexity are.  The trick is, you have to understand that they have moving parts, and those parts are controlled by feedback loops.  What you are suggesting is that we lop off the feedback loops, and that the system will work much better once you do that.  That's bullshit.

 

Know what controls the urge to overproduce in capitalism?  The awareness on the part of the masses that they have limited resources.  But you screw with that when you make fake money available.  And you know who introduces the fake money into the market?  Why, your wonderful Democratic Socialist leaders do.  Know why?  So that they can get re-elected and buy their way into power -- there's that human nature, gumming up the works when you thought you have eliminated it.  Essentially, they do a LBO of the country using fake money, which is how all LBO's work.  So, you want to stop that process?  Then don't give government a monopoly on money.  Open it up to the free market.  Removing it's control from the free market is what caused the problem in the first place.

 

Same thing with underproduction.  You can only underproduce when there are barriers to entry that allow you to hold the market hostage, which come from licensing and regulatory requirements, and the licensing and regulatory requirements are sponsored by those businesses who don't want competition, so they forge a partnership with those in government responsible for imposing licensing requirements and regulations on the masses.  Once again -- human nature, doing what it does.

 

Want to stop cartels, or want to supercharge the ability of the market to create paths around natural monopolies?  End licensing requirments and regulations.  Essentially, remove government from the process.

 

You are barking up the wrong tree entirely.  You are suggesting more of the same thing that caused the problem in the first place, and that's never going to work.

Memedada's picture

Hard to reply to so much nonsense. Don’t know where to start. But here’s an attempt to structure a response to some of it:

1.       Human Nature: I agree with one thing you wrote: human nature is messy (=complex). It’s not me who thinks one-dimensional about human nature, but you. Human nature is both the aspects nurtured and cultivated in the capitalistic economic systems = greed, selfishness, egoism, fear/anxiety, competition and dominance. A society – including of course it’s economic system – could as easily nourish and reward other aspects of human nature: empathy, love, charity, collaboration, grace and so on…

Human Nature is not only how humans have become in USA – there’re many other possibilities to how human nature can be expressed. And yes, you have to acknowledge, that there are tendencies in human nature that can be harm-full to humanity at large and our common resources (our planet). But that should only stress the importance of striving for an economic system that doesn’t use the worst aspects of human nature as its fuel.

 

2.       Socialist leaders? Where? Obama? You must be joking. There’s NO DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST LEADERS IN ANY POWERFUL COMTEMPORARY INSTITUTIONS – not in the West, East, South or North. Name me one?

I live in Denmark and many see Denmark as a ‘socialist’ society. That’s a joke too. It’s capitalistic in the most basic definition of the word: who owns the means of production? Obama and his cohorts (the Wall St. Bankers) are best described as oligarchs (or servants of oligarchs) in a fascist state (fascism being the merging of state and corporate power – exactly how USA have turned out).

3.       The thing about “Feedback loops” is pure nonsense. First, I’ve never said anything about not respond to input from those receiving and/or needing the products – that’s a given, that there need to be communication. Lucky that communication have been made so easy.

One thing is on the other hand certain: ‘the feedback loops’ in a capitalistic society is on of the systems major problems. ‘Feedback’ is in the form of ‘demand’ and ‘demand’ is created from applied purchasing power. And purchasing power is (as you correctly stated) distributed very unfair (free fiat to corporate cronies/banks and falling wages (both nominal and real) for real work for the rest) = it is not a feedback of ‘real needs’ and more importantly there’s no feedback from the ecological systems being exploited. Well, yes, there is – but the feedback is not (necessary) to those gaining from the exploitation (in the first place at least), but from those dependent on the depleted ecological systems.

John Wilmot's picture

"And you’re an enlighten right-wing realist?"

I'm a libertarian.

"And the track record of right-wing ideologies are ‘freedom-loving democracies’?"

I refer you to Gouverneur Morris: "I am against your democracy, Monsieur de Lafayette, because I am for freedom."

"He believed in democratic socialism. Not naïve at all. Actually the only fair (and most effective) way to organize a society’s economy."

I see that you are ignorant of economics. I recommend "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt as an introduction to the subject.

 

 

Memedada's picture

I can see that you cannot see what I am or am not an ignorant of.

 

Economics is not one of my blind spots. I’ve spend 10 years working professionally with economics (within the paradigm of neoliberalism – there’re currently no other). I’ve studied the subject and gained a master degree in national economics (I know, that’s not a merit, but I’ve later unlearned most of the garbage I was thought).

 

I don’t need to read your suggestion of an ‘introduction’, but maybe you should try and broaden your perspective of economics? Try and read a book that doesn’t have ‘introduction’ in its title…

 

Libertarianism is a left-wing ideology in most parts of the world. It is only in USA, that libertarianism have been turned into a right-wing ideology. Try and study the origin of libertarianism (and don’t just use USA-sources – that’s a good advice regarding all attempts to educate yourself).

ImGumbydmmt's picture

1958 interview of Huxley by Mike Wallace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alasBxZsb40

28 minutes

Huxley was not a fan of his own predictions.

illyia's picture

Same thing happened with "Wall Street". The kids were taking notes on "how to do it", not on "what not to do".

Ears to hear and all that...

AldousHuxley's picture

you mean Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis?

 

Well today's kids know ibanking won't make them billionares with the regulations, but still see the potential in combining hedge funds with flash trading tech.

 

FCC License No. 1215095 is Converge Towers LLC, Converge Towers has a listed address in Carteret, NJ, the same address as the NASDAQ exchange. It is a shell company affiliated with Epsilon Networks,  which is a partnership between BCG Partners and Thesys Technologies. Thesys is a technology infrastructure provider partnered with Bank of America Merrilll Lynch, an offshoot of HFT firm Tradeworx. Tradeworx won the contract to develop data analysis tools for the SEC (MIDAS, or Market Information Data Analytics System). Tradeworks was involved in “building towers that can beam trading data to Chicago via microwave, a faster method of transmission than fiber optic cables.” 


ebear's picture

The same logic applies to capital markets as it does to currencies.  When participants tire of being ripped off, they'll find a way to bypass the stock market, just as foreign nations are starting to bypass the dollar.

 

August's picture

War and Freedom come and go.

Ignorance endureth forever.

AldousHuxley's picture

humans have covered up their ignorance with sophistry of technology when in fact wild monkeys have more freedom than the richest, powerful, famous men in history.

 

Are you really free?

jughead's picture

Now let's get out there and fight for peace and fuck for virginity!

crazzziecanuck's picture

It wasn't even required reading when I went to school back in the 1980s and 1990s.

As for this idea that Orwell had uncanny predictive nature, I disagree.  He put in words what he saw, and what he saw back then hasn't really changed much since.  What he says rings truer today than when he wrote them though.

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture

I don't think even Orwell could have imagined something as cold and calculating as a staged beheading used to whip the sheep into a nationalistic frenzy

Nick Jihad's picture

Orwell didn't need to imagine - Orwell alludes to Stalin's Terror. Stalin made ISIS look like a bunch of dilletantes.

malek's picture

 As for this idea that Orwell had uncanny predictive nature, I disagree. He put in words what he saw

Yep.
Which by the way I believe is true for Atlas Shrugged too.

exomike's picture

You compared an author to a book so I'll assume you are writing about Ayn Rand being comparable to George Orwell. Having seriously studied English Literature, the only comparison I would make is that I would rather have a cage of ravenous rabid rats over my head, eating my face than read Ayn Rand.

malek's picture

I care not too much about the literature quality, if the views or ideas presented are intriguing.

It sounds a little like you're nitpicking to find a reason to dump the baby with the bathwater.
Do you have anything to say on her seemingly prescient insights?

PoliticalRefugeefromCalif.'s picture

A diamond is still a diamond no matter where it's found.

Tall Tom's picture

Yes. But there are differences in the quality of the crystaline Carbon.

 

Just remember that.

Memedada's picture

And a piece of shit is still a piece of shit no matter where it’s found…

Memedada's picture

What insights?

That the ‘strong’ (= the ones with the privileges – one being access to free money/fiat) don’t care about the weak? That they are ready to ‘don’t give a shit’ and let the ‘weak’ die off? As if they gave a shit to begin with. That society must be designed to favor the already powerful/’have-it-all’ (otherwise they’ll be offended and leave/shrug)?

exomike's picture

"Do you have anything to say on her seemingly prescient insights?

They weren't. They were neither prescient nor insights although her writing might "seem" so to ungrounded adolescents. They do however represent what passes for the currnt wisdom in our soon to be doomed society. Rand's books were so long because she was an amphetimine freak. The speed also gave her a massive sexual appetite and like most of her fans..., delusions of grandure. She made one of the seven deadly sins, greed, a virtue. Thus we are living in a Randian Utopia populated by Randian Sociopaths.

Memedada's picture

100% agreement from me. However, one little correction: I think the right term should be Randian Dystopia.

Nick Jihad's picture

"seriously studied English Literature"?  Does this mean that you pronounce "Literature" with only three syllables?  Whata douche.

Oath_Keeper's picture

Nothing changes, history repeats itself. Read the Federalist Papers and the arguments against a democracy were the same in the 1700s that they are today. Nothing changes, maybe this is why the IQ has dropped per Tyler's earlier post.

John Wilmot's picture

The article was about dropping SAT scores, not IQ.

But, despite the irony, I quite agree with the thesis of your post.

Churchill was half right, Democracy is the worst form of government....

Memedada's picture

...but the alternative is worse.

margaris's picture

The alternative to having a government?

That would be paradise, not worse.

True anarchy would bring freedom and prosperity the world has never seen before.

We don't need other people running our lifes, that's medieval.

Memedada's picture

That's true. I only completed the quote. And I did a bad job, here’s the full quote: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947.

I’m an anarchist myself. But in an anarchistic society there also needs to be some form of coordination and decision-making. The only valid/legitimate decisions made in an anarchistic society is democratic – and even those decision doesn’t need to be followed (unless you harm others/infringe on their freedom by not).

Anarchism is not necessary the lack of institutions, organizations or other social structures – it’s the transmission of power from the top to the bottom (or in better terms: the abolition of all forms of centralized power). And none of the institutions, in an anarchist society, would have any power over the individuals constituting the institutions (or benefitting from them). Freedom of association.

Or actually, anarchism is just what we’ve all been thought was a reality: one (wo)man one vote (obviously one big lie in contemporary society). The difference is as an anarchist you vote all the time.

 

margaris's picture

...but since governments are the main creator of all unnatural problems humanity faces, that's like saying democracy is the worst amongst the worse.

There is no good form of government, that's the secret nobody's talking about.

A good form of government can't exist, it's like searching for a definition of good rape... not gonna happen.