“1984″ is one of the most important books ever written. In literature class, you may have been told about the profound influence of Shakespeare, the long-lasting history of the Iliad, the astounding Thunderbolt Casino Bonuses, or maybe even the cultural significance of Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe. In my opinion, their works pale in comparison to the magnitude of the genius that went into George Orwell’s ninth and final work, “1984”.
If you’re not familiar with it, “1984” is about an alternate history where the world is divided into four nation-states, and the main character Winston lives in the state of Oceania. The book describes a horrific future where the government controls every facet of the citizens’ lives, creates new dictionaries that are missing words to prevent “wrongthink,” and are always watched over by “Big Brother,” leader of the ruling party, who may not actually exist.
The book shows what a world of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and the complete subjugation of the populace may look like, and how impossible it would be to come back from such a sorry state. It’s a fantastic and horrific read, and truly ahead of its time. As a result of this book, the term “Orwellian” is now part of the modern dictionary.
However, like the boy who cried wolf, the term has been vastly overused these days, and it’s meaning has worn off. Political activists throw this word around as easily as they throw around “Racist” these days. The problem is, no matter where you are living right now, whoever may currently be in charge, you are not living in an Orwellian state.
An Orwellian state has no point of return. It is the end of the road, and there’s only one country on earth that has come even close to this point: China.
Ironically, Chinese censorship is probably the easiest Orwellian tactic to identify, especially from an outsider looking in. There’s the infamous Chinese firewall that blocks all unapproved internet traffic. They have their own search engines (larger than Google!), social media sites, and government-controlled news agencies.
The government will take down any posts that go against what the leadership likes, and I mean any. Whether it’s as serious as coverage of the Tienanmen Square Massacre to memes about how President Xi Jinping looks like Winnie the Poo, if the government doesn’t like it, it goes away.
Their reach doesn’t end at the Chinese borders, of course. China has a vested interest in its external PR image and spends huge amounts of money on buying up shares in social media sites and news agencies, such as Reddit.
Even Google had planned to participate in the censorship by building a version of the search engine that would accommodate the Chinese censorship restrictions until Project Dragonfly got leaked to the public, and Google supposedly backed off the deal.
Hollywood has infamously bent over backward to get in on the Chinese market, with multiple Marvel movies, Bond films, and even Titantic getting scenes cut or edited to grant them access to that Chinese cash.
Social Credit System
In all likelihood, China’s Social Credit system is probably the most “Big-Brother” any government has ever openly been in history. China’s government has an automated system up and running that gives everyone points for their character.
Do something good, and you gain points. Do something bad, and you lose points. What doing “good” or “bad” means can be anything from being a parent (good), jaywalking (bad), not paying a fine (bad), donating to charity (good), or holding up a taxi (bad). Lose too many points, and a Chinese citizen can lose access to the little rights they had.
Liu Hu, a Chinese journalist who reported on Chinese censorship and government corruption, was arrested, fined, and found to be “not qualified” to buy plane tickets, take out loans, purchase property, or even ride certain train lines.
Whether or not you can go to the mall may depend on how well you tipped your last Uber driver (Actually, do people tip Uber drivers?). While there technically is a path to appeal through the court system, it’s doubtful whether or not any Chinese court would protect your rights.
The most sinister of all the actions the Chinese government has taken are the actions the government has actively attempted to hide. The Tienanmen Square massacre is one of the most famous examples. There’s evidence of the Chinese government using concentration camps and massacring the Muslim Uighur population.
In 2019, regarding the massive protests and crackdowns in Hong Kong where the citizens have literally fought in the streets against Chinese soldiers, China had attempted to subdue any news of the situation as much as it can.
Most recently, China has tried to cover up just how bad the Coronavirus outbreak has been and how unprepared they were to handle the situation, with reports of citizens waiting ten hours at hospitals to be examined.
Darkest of all, there is even strong evidence to suggest that China is harvesting organs from prisoners for profit.
How’s that for dystopic?