Monday, July 9, 2007

a frightful future

I just finished George Orwell's classic 1984. The book is a drastic "negative Utopia" which narrates the journey of Winston Smith from a drone at the Ministry of Truth, an institution dedicated to fabricating lies, to an adulterous rebel trying to join "the brotherhood." The journey documents the subversive ways in which our society dictates even our subconscious and rebellious notions and thereby inoculates them against the Establishment.

It was also an interesting story to read after finishing Herbert Marcuse's An Essay on Liberation. Marcuse convincingly argues that before a society changes a person must have a transformation of needs and desires. He writes, “The so-called consumer economy and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling, and constantly renewing the gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one’s own destruction, has become a ‘biological’ need" (11). Winston has a need that is created in him by his society conflicting with his human desire for true freedom. Unfortunately the society has so warped that desire that Winston is deceived into becoming a force of domination and oppression for freedom. The book is fascinating and has an important message for the world today. In fact, his words read almost prophetically. Orwell's work speaks profoundly to the society of global and institutionalized terror that the United States and other governments around the world practice.

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