Our Eldest Brother
George Orwell’s infamous “Big Brother” has infected the minds of every one of the millions of readers of 1984. But this horrific view of the future, one in which the government knows everything, keeps the low class down as an economic necessity, and wages a constant war with another of the world’s powers, was only in Orwell’s imagination. . . wasn’t it?
In today’s world of hi-tech computers, video cameras, and television, the government, along with any other agency with the right amount of money, can look through anyone’s personal records without much difficulty. Grocery stores that give out “savings” cards to their customers compile databases of addresses, social security numbers, and shopping habits. By giving out one’s telephone number, the person is also giving out his or her address and neighborhood, which leads to information on annual income and who the person lives with. With this information, put together in the right way, criminals can seek out from our community, the elderly, the single, and the sick as possible victims. Technology is making every person’s life open to the public.
The idea that a country would carry on a war only to keep their economy moving is almost inconcievable. Orwell’s fantasy world included constant warfare to control over production and end unemployment. This philosophy worked in Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. This type of economic policy has been put into practice on a number of occasions.
Russia was overtaken by a Communist regime at the end of World War I. The Soviet Union was already involved in a war economy, and this revolution kept them there. They faced internal and external attacks, and withstood them. When they had no enemies strong enough to attack them, the Soviets had to make enemies to keep its economic system afloat. As F.J.P. Veale puts it in his essay “Orwellian Warfare,” “An admission that no enemy existed would have entailed a reconstruction of the system so fundamental as to be equivalent to its destruction.”
The same type of situation occurred in Nazi Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I was, in the opinion of most Germans, unfair. Germany was already a traitor to Europe and the rest of the world, so finding an enemy to jump-start a war-induced economy was easy to Hitler and the leaders of the Third Reich. Hitler used this war economy to spur on his efforts at world dominion, which let him keep all of Germany’s workers employed. If this type of government can be put into place once, it can, and will, happen again.
With new technology available to the world today, poverty should have been eliminated by this point. But the higher class (wealthier) of society desires to stay in their position. For this reason, the upper class does not let the lower class know the possibillities that are open to them. “in short, a hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance” (Veale). Most of the actual work done by the upper class is to assure their standing by pushing the poverty-stricken down even further. Politicians of certain parties know they can count on votes from specific poor ethnic minorities. They pass lows to keep others out of wealth. For example, taxes are kept high, even though it is not necessary in this time of a balanced budget. As stated by Robert Samuelson in his January 5, 1999 column for the Washington Post, Washington (”What I mean by Washington is the political community — the ‘inside the Beltway crowd’ or ‘ governing class.’”) has lost its connection with the rest of the nation. The politicians are focused more on personal and partisan gains than what is needed for the country. They are raising themselves and do not notice the fingertips of the American public they are stepping on, an America that is slowly losing its grip.