Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 22, 2009 / 30 Sivan 5769

‘1984’ + 60

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | 1984 opens with one of the most famous first lines in modern English literature — the vaguely unnerving "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." The line it ends with is even more famous, and considerably more sinister: "He loved Big Brother."


George Orwell's brilliant, bitter novel turns 60 this month, but after all these years it has lost none of its nightmarish chill. Its hero is the decidedly unheroic Winston Smith, a weak and wistful man who lives in the totalitarian police state of Oceania, which is ruled by the Party — personified in Big Brother, whose intimidating image is everywhere — and in which the Thought Police ruthlessly suppress any hint of dissent. The Party enforces its will through constant surveillance, relentless propaganda, and the annihilation of anyone who rebels against its authority, even if only in private thoughts or conversation. Winston engages in such thought-crimes, first by secretly recording his hatred of Big Brother in a diary, then through a love-affair with a young woman called Julia. Eventually he is arrested, interrogated, tortured, broken.


Nineteen Eighty-Four was Orwell's warning of what unchecked state power can become — a warning informed by the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with their contempt for human life and conscience, their cult of personality, their unremitting cruelty and deceit. "I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe . . . that something resembling it could arrive," Orwell wrote shortly after the book was published. "I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences."


Orwell himself was a committed socialist, and he insisted that 1984should not be taken as an attack on socialism or parties of the left. And, in truth, though the ruling ideology in the book is named Ingsoc ("English Socialism" in Oceania's fictional language of Newspeak), the Party's aims have nothing to do with collectivizing wealth, or creating a workers' paradise, or any other socialist prescription.


"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake," Winston is told by O'Brien, the Party official who interrogates him. "We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. . . . We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?"


Whether or not poor Winston understood, the totalitarians (and would-be totalitarians) of 1949 certainly did. Stalin's Pravda blasted 1984for its supposed "contempt for the people," while the American Communist journal Masses and Mainstream, in a review titled "Maggot-of-the-Month," trashed it as a "diatribe against the human race" and "cynical rot." But in most of the free world it was acclaimed as an instant classic. "No other work of this generation," declared The New York Times in its review, "has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness."


Even now, it is hard to think of any novel that can match 1984 in its insight into the totalitarian mindset. Orwell captured so much of it: The insatiable lust for power. The lies incessantly broadcast as truth. The assault on free thought as both sickness and crime. The corruption of language. The brazen rewriting of history. The use of technology to make privacy impossible. The repression of sexuality. Above all, the zealous crushing of individual identity and liberty. "If you want a picture of the future," O'Brien tells Winston during his interrogation and torture, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever."


From "Big Brother" to "Thought Police" to "unperson" to "doublethink," it is no coincidence that so many of the terms Orwell coined for 1984— to say nothing of the word "Orwellian" itself — have become part of our lexicon for life without freedom. Tragically, Orwell died at 46, just seven months after Nineteen Eighty-Four appeared, but 60 years later his great work survives, its power undiminished, its warning more urgent than ever.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2006, Boston Globe

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles