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Book Confluence: 1984

In response to the recently passed Government Surveillance Act, aka FISA, for our next Book Confluence meeting, we will be discussing George Orwell’s, 1984.  The book:

is a 1949 English novel about life in a fictional, future authoritarian regime as lived by Winston Smith, an intellectual worker at the Ministry of Truth. Winston is degraded and psychologically tortured after he is arrested by the Thought Police under the instruction of the totalitarian government of Oceania, in the year 1984.

The book has major significance for its vision of an all-observing government which uses constant surveillance and propaganda, both insidious and blatant, to control its citizens. The book had a substantial impact both in literature and on the perception of public surveillance, inspiring such terms as ‘Big Brother‘ and ‘Orwellian‘.

It seems a perfectly appropriate way to round out the primary season of 2008, which began with this famous youtube sensation, created by Philip de Vellis, a consultant working for the Barack Obama campaign(the work was apparently unauthorized.  Heh.):

What a long, strange trip it’s been.  We’ve come full circle.  The candidate assigned the role of Big Brother voted to protect our civil liberties and hold the government to account.  The so-called Constitutional Law Expert(or what I call, adjunct professor) in support for whom the video was composed, who during the primary said:

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people – not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

voted with the Bush administration in support of the Government Surveillance Act.

But the recent act by Congress to codify in law Bush’s FISA expansion is not the first incident reminiscent of Orwell’s novel.  The primary season was replete with a new language, Barack Obama’s newspeakLirwin2 of the Democratic underground relates the following type of newspeak, to the Barack Obama campaign:

‘There is a word in Newspeak,’ said Syme, ‘I don’t know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck. It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.’ -1984

-When Barack Obama does it, it’s reaching out, when Hillary does it it’s pandering

-When Barack Obama does it, it’s mis-speaking when Hillary does it it’s lying

-When Barack Obama does it, it’s bringing race to the forefront, when Hillary does it it’s racist

-When Barack Obama does it, it’s changing Washington, when Hillary does it it’s throwing long-time Dems under the bus

-When Barack Obama does it, it’s because he’s willing to work across the aisle, when Hillary does it it’s because she’s a conservative

But there are other examples.  Big Brother himself for one.  According to wikipedia, “In the novel, it is unclear if Big Brother is a man or an image crafted by the Party.”  Hmmm, sound familiar?  Also according to wikipedia, “Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state taken to its utmost logical consequence- where the ruling ellite (‘the Party’) wield total power for its own sake over the inhabitants.”  A bit close to home? 

Lest the Obamacans decide I am slandering the One by comparing him to Orwell’s Big Brother, I don’t portend this is where the Obama revolution is leading us, I only suggest there are same eerie similarities between the fictional depiction of Orwell’s 1984 and today’s political climate, and they are worth exploring.

We will discuss the first half of the novel, a week from Sunday, July 27th.  Please join us for the discussion even if you do not plan to read the book.  It should be a lively one. 

*I am trying to alter the Book Confluence tab at the top of the website so that I may add links to our book discussions there.  Having a bit of trouble figuring out how to do that, so it will take a short while.  I apologize for the inconsistencies of the meetings thus far.  I’m working on it.

67 Responses

  1. I have actually never read this.

    I certainly will now.



    Can’t wait to re-read!

    I also think Animal Farm is appropriate for the post-primary, pre-convention climate too.

  3. Carol! After this Book Confluence Thread, we’ll do ours. That sound good?

  4. Oh great, Carol! I haven’t read it in 20 years(has it been that long?), but so much of this primary reminded me of it, as did the Bush regime. i think it will make for a good discussion.

  5. Yeah, Animal Farm too. If we have fun with this one, maybe we’ll do that one as well.

  6. OMG, I just had someone at work ask me if I had heard about “this PUMA stuff”. Totally independently of me. SInce RBC, I have been very quiet about my politics here. I am surrounded by Obama supporters. This is liberal elite central.

    Anyway, our message is getting out, and even the low information academics are starting to pick up on it.

    1984 is awesome, Orwell what such a visionary. He predicted so many things that are happening right now.

  7. Mawn, that’s so funny! What did you say?

  8. Once again, the Denver Group has a great new ad out today! It is all over the Hill! Please spread where you can..


  9. I recently re-read 1984….sounds pretty much like 2008 to me.

    1984 is a great book that is amazing in it’s predictions. The bush administration took doublespeak to new highs.

    Mountain Sage

  10. I told him it all started after the RBC meeting when a blogger said Party Unity My Ass (the immortal SM), and from there it took off like wild fire. He was looking at Murphy’s PUMAPac blog. He said he got there from http://www.memeorandum.com. Everyone knows I am a Clinton supporter, so I guess that is why He asked me about it. I added that we are over 2 million strong and growing.
    I really think the Obama worship has faded here.

  11. What’s really funny is the last line of that video: “You’ll see why 2008 won’t be like 1984”. Oh reallly?

  12. you know that the graffiti artist who designed that Obey symbol on the tv designed the similarly Orwellian Obama poster, right?…

  13. I started re-reading 1984 a couple months ago but got stalled due to the campaign…I bet fuzzybear will be pleased!!!

  14. dotcommodity, on July 17th, 2008 at 4:34 pm Said: Edit Comment
    you know that the graffiti artist who designed that Obey symbol on the tv designed the similarly Orwellian Obama poster, right?…

    No, I didn’t know that. Interesting.

  15. Read it a while back, don’t wanna discuss it. I agree with it in that the only victory we have left to us is to die hating them.

    Nothing to add beyond that.

  16. I barely finished it as a teenager as it was so dark and at that time reminded me of the Soviet Union. We were still in the Cold War back then.

  17. Ok, Janis. Sorry you don’t want to discuss it. I thought it would be interesting. Hopefully, you’ll like the next pick.

  18. Naah, that’s okay. Lots of other people are clearly hapyp to talk about it. I’m just getting to the point where I have to take a little vacation soon or else I’m going to go Lemuel Gulliver on yall and become a recluse stablemucker for the rest of my life.

  19. Mawm, on July 17th, 2008 at 4:24 pm Said:
    (the immortal SM),

    When did I drink virgin blood?

    (awwww, thanks!)

  20. OT, I just read BC says he’s ready to go for Obama. Yuck!

  21. Karolina NYC, yes back when I first read it – freshman English 40 years ago – everyone inferred that it was talking about the Soviet Union and the logical conclusion of Communism. And here we are, living so much of it. I started thinking about 1984 a few months ago when the doublespeak, thoughtpolice, Ministry of Truth became pretty glaring to me. So I ordered a copy from Amazon and it is in my stack of books to read. I’ll pull it out and read it again.

  22. This is a great read. Scarry as anything they could put on me in Room 101 is the Obama for America campaign! some one bring on the rats….


  23. I have two copies of that book somewhere in this house and now I have to do a search mission to find it. When will the discussion take place? I need to get up off my tush and track this one down. It is a great pick.

  24. BC meaning Bill Clinton?

  25. massib, BC used the word “whenever”…that puts the ball in O’s. court…I think Bill means “WHENEVER ! !”

  26. Excellent article, thank you! I was thinking more along the lines of the film “The Omen,” but “1984” really nails it!

    I still have my (ancient!) high school copy of 1984, and I am also going to re-read it.


  27. Obama Girl was a totally unauthorized project too.

  28. GARY fuzzybear is very pleased has pulled his dusty old copy out of the box- and remembering that there are so many parallels between the mythical?(but for how much longer) land of Oceania and the Ol’ USA of Obama.


  29. more like NEVER! And he is not going to speak at the convention.

    Oblah has other fish to fry…Iraq…for one….ignoring the progressives…eating arugula…

  30. For those who are interested, “1984” is available free online.

  31. myiq2xu: Where online?

  32. myiq2xu, on July 17th, 2008 at 5:45 pm Said: Edit Comment
    Obama Girl was a totally unauthorized project too.

    Oh yeah, that’s right. That totally spontanious video, which was in no way connected with the Obama camp, just part of the greater Obama movement. 😉

  33. Pat, the discussion will be on Sunday, July 27th. I suppose I should pick a time. Maybe 7pm EST.

  34. Sorry but several threads back RD dropped a hint that she and Murphy met in princeton with a 3rd party and discussed PUMA and our cause there was something good to be announced something big what was it? did she ever say? or are we still waiting Gary Mawn SM please let fuzzy know


  35. masslib: That sounds reasonable.

  36. Google it – here’s one site:


  37. I first read 1984 in the mid-nineties while I was in college (an economics class, believe it or not) and I thought Orwell was waaaaay off-base.

    Then I re-read it a couple years back and thought he was scary accurate.

  38. I found it. If I can’t find those two copies this will do. Thanks.

  39. Pat did RD ever spill about her Princeton meeting with Murphy?


  40. RD has been using lip glue on that

  41. CDissonance, the Soviet Union was not really created on the principles of Marxism & communism—it was a totalitarian police state w/ a dictator as its first “president” and really built as a fascist entity w/ the government as its only corporation. I was too young to realise this when I visited it as a teen (before reading 1984).

    I remember that when my Mom and sibs and I went to concerts there, there was always lots of nationalistic “pro-communism” propaganda that every performance was apparently required to include, and all of the bad stuff was blamed on the “fascists.” It was the first time I’d paid attention to the word.

    The Soviet Union was as much “communist” as Obama is a “democrat”, IMHO. Not that I think a state built on Marx’s ideas could, would or should actually work, Like I think don’t think Obama, even if truly a democrat, could, should or would actually work.

  42. Someone on the prior blog posted a link to “POLITICALLY DRUNK” & a sign-up for an e-mail to SD’s program.
    WOW !!
    Including Pelosi’s office.

  43. fuzzy, she wrote a post about it. We are going to be moviestars. Check it out.

  44. Michael: She wrote a diary called Wednesday – The Core
    Scrowl down on the homepage. It is all there.

  45. What do you think Pampers would do if you strapped a cage with rats to his face? He’d throw himself under the bus I wager.


    Feel free to use that.

  46. Dean bitterly says Hillary will be on the ballot and reveals Donna is GOP and a McCain suporter

  47. Is there anyone more insufferable lately than Jack Cafferty? Watched CNN because Wolf interviewed “Nancy” and then he turned to the panel about Bill campaigning for Obama. Have they entirely forgotten that this man is not some lackey and was twice elected to the WH?

    They seem to think he and Hillary need to be out there pumping fists for that Empty Suit after this bruising election. If so, then where are Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich? And by the way, whatever happened to that Poverty Tour?

  48. Shtuey: He may find he has some relatives among those rats.

  49. So Pat, remember when I said a couple weeks ago that something special would be happening that we could do to honor Hillary? That time has come!

    Everyone go to http://www.seneca160.us/index.html

    You’ll find out about some special events for Seneca Falls honoring Hillary, and a way that you can literally speak out on behalf of women’s rights and human rights with a new Declaration of Sentiments.

    On July 19th, put on your Hillary gear, gather with other supporters, read and sign this declaration, and honor your candidate.

  50. After reading some of these posts – I some of us are going to be more like TV stars –

    Political Activists Gone Wild.

    Some have become felons beating their neighbors. Others, misdemeanorers for disturbing the peace while screaming in pain at their now broken TV’s after Cafferty complains about the Clintons not helping BO while he is spending all of his time trying to pay down her debt.

    I am sure some of us older ones will just wind up in a body bag when someone comes looking for us after hearing cat (PUMA) sounds coming from a dark house after 3 days.

    I think this is high season for some Xanax.

    I have my doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning.

    PUMA$ Who Care Are At Risk!

  51. Shtuey: Sounds wonderful. Wish I could be there. Are you attending?

  52. Carol; Did you see that too? These people are utterly ridiculous. They owe Obama nothing. Yet they keep pushing the theme that they are not doing enough. Makes me ill.

  53. Dean capitulated on the ballot thing? Are her votes gonna be counted in base-10? Are the superdels going to have to run through a gasoline fire before they get to vote for Hillary? Will the votes for Hillary be tabulated by a program that shunts them into /dev/null? Will her superdels be voting THIS YEAR? Will their mouths be covered in duct tape when they do it?

    Glad the ads got their attention. Howard, I gave you $600 in 2003 for that fucking abortion of a campaign you ran. You owe me anyhow, you little shit. I hope that ad makes you choke in your sleep.

    Hm, I still don’t sound ready for unity, do I? O:-)

  54. Eddy called to say he would come looking for me after only 1 day.

  55. Though I helped organize the Seneca 160 breakfast, I sadly will not be attending. Travel is expensivo. Instead I will be reading the declaration at an event in NC.

    But gatherings are popping up all over. If you have a circle of Hillary supporters by all means gather them together for the occasion.

  56. Carol: He was only looking for his cuff links.

  57. Janis, you are in the first episode.

  58. Janis: Right after Ed and I offer our joint take on PUMA. Ed’s a hound you know!

  59. Janis, /dev/null? Are you an IT person?

    Do you ever,
    $cd pub
    $more beer


  60. $tail mawm


  61. Mawm which post?

  62. Suppose we send Obama and surrogates the Cliffs Notes for “1984.” They might get the gist of it without overtaxing their attention span.

  63. Michael: It about 5 or 6 down on the front page entitled: Wednesday.

  64. Jeralyn put up a post “Watch Netroots Nation From Your Computer”

    My response: “Why? Netroots nation isn’t.”

    They are the Village idiots of blogging.

  65. Another piece of the Bush legacy: The Village Idiot who spawned more.

  66. SopieL, you and I can ride the Unixy Pony.

  67. Great use of the ‘OBEY’ graphic. Big Brother may be watching, but the everlasting and ever-powerful Andre the Giant would kick his ass any day!

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