George Orwell’s dystopian vision of an authoritarian society, in his novel 1984, was not as far-fetched as those during his time once believed. There are numerous parallels between 1984 and present-day governments around the world, including the United States government. The connections are sometimes minute, and while within the society hardly noticeable, however, they are just under the surface. The parallels range from the government’s surveillance and distinction in class treatment to the idea of doublethink and the manipulation of ideas of the government.
To control and monitor the citizens of Oceania during wartime, the government of Oceania installed devices such as telescreens to listen and censor conversations that were unsatisfactory to those in power. Similarly, after nine-eleven surveillance by the United States government also increased dramatically. To combat the widespread fear of future terrorist attacks and citizens’ feelings of vulnerability, the United States Government passed the Patriots Act. This act granted the United States government the ability to legally tap telephone lines and the ability to intercept any internet data including emails and private messages that they wanted. According to Babu-Kura, the United States government has often taken advantage of the Patriots Act, in one case, “FBI agents used fake emergency requests to gather data on Washington Post and New York Times reporters, and that AT&T and Verizon were paid to open offices inside the FBI, where employees for the telecoms let FBI agents search phone records without doing any paperwork – in blatant violation of federal law” (par. 20). Unlike the government of Oceania, with the Patriot Act, the United States now had the power to listen to the conversations of common citizens without their knowledge and at almost any moment, where the people in Oceania knew they were being listened to and learned to censor what they said themselves. Every society has class distinctions whether or not they are inherently obvious depends on where you are. Orwell’s dystopian novel reveals a clear struggle against oppression between; the Proles, the Inner Party, and the Outer Party. In the United States, there are similar, but not identical, class distinctions to those in Orwell’s 1984. The United States has a similar setup: the senators, Inner party members, and other high-ranking members of the government at the top, Outer party members, and lower class of people, Proles, the working people. Although the United States often claims to be of noble means, “ you cannot have an exploiting capitalist class without a working class that is being exploited” (Peterson, par. 14). With the election of the present-day president, Donald Trump, class distinction has become more obvious than ever. Working immigrants have brought up many of the same issues as the Prole citizens of Oceania.
The similarities in manipulation by high government officials between Orwell’s 1984 and the contemporary society of the United States are astounding. With the election of President Donald Trump came his ability to “send all of us direct text messages with the assistance of FEMA”(Gregor par. 13). Trump has also revived the idea of fake news and in many ways, similar to Big Brother, Oceanias leader, brainwashed his followers. The main component of 1984 was the difference in the way citizens lived, however they believed their standards of living were the best. Similar to all of this Trump has manipulated his followers into believing almost anything he says, whether it is logical or not. For example; US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced, ‘that the DOJ has discussed prosecuting climate change deniers!’ (Oscar 15). Donald Trump has gotten millions to believe that climate change, a scientifically proven event, isn’t happening and doesn’t exist. Just like in 1984 Trump falls under the ideology that those. ‘Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past,’ an Oceanian slogan used by higher powers of government. America is filled with alternative facts coming from the inside of the White House and spread through newspapers and online blogs, however many of the presidents are so blinded by their admiration of him to see it.
Not only are the similarities between 1984 and the present day frightening but Orwell’s fantasy could and is slowly becoming a reality. Despite the lack of technological advancement similar to telescreens, the United States has slowly enveloped many of the ideas introduced in 1984. If a powerful government was able to access devices like those presented in 1984, there is a definite possibility that they could be used for dominance over society as it is.