It’s Nineteen Eighty-Four All Over Again, by Frank W. Hermann

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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

By Frank W. Hermann, Crisis Magazine, August 10, 2020

Frank W. Hermann, PhD, is associate professor of English at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.


Frank W. HermannIt was a good year for many of us. An economy that had sustained a heavy blow under President Jimmy Carter was recovering under Ronald Reagan. Aside from the skirmishes in Lebanon, the nation was at peace. And as a college freshman away from my mother’s scrupulous gaze, I was at last free to leave my dirty socks on the floor with impunity.

It was not the best year, however, for Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Winston and his inamorata, Julia, spent that year living under the unscrupulous gaze of a totalitarian regime that monitored their every move, tolerating no dissent in word, deed, or even thought. The regime’s architects knew that it was not enough for its people to pay lip service to the party line. They actually had to believe it. To that end, the English Socialist Party devised numerous strategies to brainwash its citizens into swallowing the steady diet of propaganda fed to them. One of the most effective strategies was the development of its infamous political language, Newspeak.  

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