It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate.
The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.
As usual, the face of Sarah Palin, the Enemy of the Democratic Party and the Main Stream Media and especially leftist bloggers, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. A little red-haired woman journalist gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Palin was the renegade, one of the leading figures of the Republican Party, almost on a level with the near mythological figure “Reagan”, and had engaged in counter-liberal activities, had been condemned to irrelevancy, but had mysteriously escaped from liberal media attacks and gained a mass following. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Palin was not the principal figure. She was the primal enemy, the defiler of the Party’s plans including the Death Panels. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of her teaching. She was still active and hatching her conspiracies: perhaps under the protection of secret paymasters, perhaps even—so it was occasionally rumoured, the mysterious Koch brothers and the equally mysterious Fox Murdoch.
Jonah Goldberg argues that the hedonic consumerism nightmare of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) has proven more accurately prophetic of the dystopian direction of Modernity than the brutal collectivism of George Orwell’s 1984 (1949).
[P]olitics is increasingly a vehicle for delivering prepackaged joy. America’s political system used to be about the pursuit of happiness. Now more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered. And though it has been the subject of high school English essay questions for generations, we have not gotten much closer to answering the question, what exactly was so bad about the Brave New World?
Simply this: it is fool’s gold. The idea that we can create a heaven on earth through pharmacology and neuroscience is as utopian as the Marxist hope that we could create a perfect world by rearranging the means of production. The history of totalitarianism is the history of the quest to transcend the human condition and create a society where our deepest meaning and destiny are realized simply by virtue of the fact that we live in it. It cannot be done, and even if, as often in the case of liberal fascism, the effort is very careful to be humane and decent, it will still result in a kind of benign tyranny where some people get to impose their ideas of goodness and happiness on those who may not share them.
“Homer was wrong in saying: ‘Would that strife might perish from among gods and men!’ He did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the universe; for, if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away.”—Heraclitus of Ephesus
Maybe readers allowing you to purchase electronic copies of books from giant impersonal corporations are not such a good idea after all.
What happens when Amazon decides, for reasons of its own, that you should not be in possession of a particular book? Pop! It’s gone. Eliminated by your friendly corporation’s software update system.
Big Brother came calling on Amazon customers yesterday, as the New York Times reports.
In George Orwell’s “1984,” government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the “memory hole.”
On Friday, it was “1984” and another Orwell book, “Animal Farm,” that were dropped down the memory hole — by Amazon.com.
In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.
An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.
Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.