Somehow I made it to the ripe old age of 31 before reading 1984. Clearly this is a failing of my high school education. (Let’s blame my AP English teacher who had us reading Othello, Lear, and The Inferno instead.)

While I would have enjoyed the book when I was sixteen, I don’t think I would have appreciated it in the same way if I had read it before I spent long, LONG hours with Karl Marx. In particular, it seems that Ingsoc came about in much the same way that Soviet communism did (that is, imposed by elites) rather than arising naturally as the proletariat (the “proles”). And what does Winston say? That if Big Brother is going to be overthrown, it’s going to be in a revolution that comes from below… from the proles.

Probably the best part of the book for me was the completely dashed hope… the ray of hope in O’Brien, in the relationship between Winston and Julia, the old man who rents them the room. But it’s all wrong… O’Brien and the old man are tools of Big Brother, and Juila was right that any systemic opposition of Big Brother is futile – the most you can do is break the rules and avoid getting caught as long as possible.

And in the end, Big Brother will win. And Big Brother will break you.

As a side note, reading 1984 at the same time that you’re reading academic work about surveillance is enough to make a person downright paranoid.

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