George Orwell wrote 1984 as a story set in a dystopian society, where everything is controlled, including the way people speak, the necessary periodical changes to history, the perpetual war, and the surveillance by the government. I am going to examine whether we are currently living in this dystopia or not.
In the world, there are three super-states: Oceania, where the story is set, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Oceania is ruled by the Party which uses Ingsoc as their ideology. Ingsoc is Newspeak for English socialism and Newspeak itself is designed to make people more stupid and unable to express their ideas.
In this world, you are expected to listen to propaganda all the time, being unable to turn it off. You are given an apartment, rations of food, alcohol, cigarettes, and other necessities, though people often need to go to the black market to purchase simple things like rubber bands. It is also illegal to horde your rations.
Even criminals on death row are expected to worship and love their great leader, Big Brother. The orders and ideals of the Party are absolute, even when (or especially when) they are rewriting history to fit their new agenda, like repeatedly switching the places of Eurasia and Eastasia as their ally and nemesis, respectively.
The only people who are not controlled with great scrutiny are the so-called proles, from the word proletariat, low-wage workers and second-class citizens, but they are inconsequential to the Party.
North Korea has a few parallels with the novel. There are only several haircuts allowed for the population, their leader can do no wrong, and there is an abundance of myth surrounding him and his father in history books. Woe to the North Korean who is not absolutely patriotic. The internet is not allowed to the common people.
Another leader that cannot be touched is China’s President Xi Jin Ping. The party hunts down anyone complaining of the situation in China and all communication is carefully monitored. There have been threats of arrest to those that warned about COVID-19, for example, under the guise of disturbing the peace.
The USA has been on the warpath for centuries, which is impressive, given how old it is. The media tends to focus on their conflicts in the Middle East, though they have waged war with Mexico and Panama, some parts of Europe, Asia, and even Africa. The US is always at war and its elite is always profiting from it.
Another gem from the US is President Donald J. Trump, openly punishing those who are not loyal to him and contradicting himself whenever a new situation requires his attention. His followers do their best to justify his words and actions.
Furthermore, there are those in the GOP that believe the parties never switched sides on the major issues, proclaiming themselves to be the Party of Lincoln.
So, We Are In 1984?
Not quite yet. There certainly are parts of the world where 1984 is not a story but everyday reality. However, most governments, instead of closely monitoring its people, let the populace divide itself into many groups by presenting new issues and disagreements, like abortion, gun control, LGBTQ+, universal healthcare, separation of church and state, socialism, nationalism, globalism, tax breaks, climate change, and so on. Instead of reaching out and understanding each other, all these groups are pitted against each other through hate, self-righteousness, and denial of issues.