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The social theorist Michel Foucault held that a central feature of modern society is the soft control of surveillance.It informs our sensibility, disciplining us without overt force and compelling us to adhere to normative behavior.However, it is a mistake to see it as a confirmation of the politics of the United States. under Stalin, as the main pig, Comrade Napoleon, takes control, rewrites history and finally declares that some pigs “are more equal than others.” But remember that the farmers expelled at the beginning of the book were capitalists who had grossly exploited and abused the animals.
Orwell’s view of media followed World War II, a time of active propaganda, and Orwell knew the workings of propaganda firsthand.
He worked in the Eastern Service of the BBC during the war, parlaying British news to India.
It seems as if we have gone through the looking glass and entered a world where, in the words of captures some sense of living in the modern era, with extensive government, military, technology and media.
But in Orwell’s imagined Oceania, the state is monolithic, overseeing all activity with total control. It sees what you do, tells you what to do, monitors what you think and punishes any variance.
It was a time of total government, so in many ways reflects that moment.
Instead, it seems as if we now live in a time of the total market, when major political figures aim to use business as a model for government.
Now, with the National Security Agency perusing our phones (hi!
), Google combing through our search engines, and our high-tech TVs able to watch us, Orwell was all too prescient.
But more so than propaganda, we live in a time of ads -- accumulating thousands of hours by the time one is 10 years old.
One of the creepier details in is that the screens can also watch the inhabitants.