Thursday, June 11, 2009

60th Anniversary of George Orwell's "1984"

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's masterpiece, 1984. It has gone strangely unnoticed, considering the monumental importance ofthe work. But some people have taken the opportunity to write on the book's significance for our time. Take a look at this column by commentator Cathy Young, which examines the lessons Orwell's book has for us in the early 21st Century.

Soviet communism, the real target of Orwell's attack, has been cast into the ash heap of history, hopefully never to return. But one of Orwell's messages most pertinent to the modern age, and which Cathy Young comments on quite effectively, is the political usage of hate to maintain political loyality and to avoid the need to discuss actual questions.

As she puts it:

Looking at much of our political discourse today, from right-wing talk radio to left-wing blogs, it's hard not to think of such rituals as "Two-Minute Hate" and "Hate Week." On too many political websites, every week is Hate Week - whether the object of hate is liberals, Muslims, neocons, or Christian bigots. Partisan propagandists and professional hate-mongers bear a large share of the blame, but so do "regular" people who need little encouragement to demonize political opponents.

People on all sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this, and it was something Jefferson would have understood very well. Indeed his Federalist opponents were very good at whipping the American people into a fearful fury by evoking the specter of a French invasion, despite the fact that such an event could not possibly have happened.

1984 remains a boom with important lessons to teach, and all 21st Century Jeffersonians should have it on their bookshelf.

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