1984 All Over Again
It’s like 1984 all over again.
“Smith!” yelled a voice from the telescreen. “6079 Smith
W! Hands out of pockets in the cells!” -1984
In 1948 Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, wrote a book with chilling insights into the future, 1984. This book did quite a number on the literate world. People who have read this book have had mixed reactions, from fear to hatred of our governmental system. However, 1984 came and went, and no signs of the tales told in the book were realized by the mass- population. There is no Ingsoc, there are no helicopters looking into windows. Most people have written this book off as a good science fiction work. However, this book should NOT be written off, for it has been realized, and is far worse and more subtle than Orwell could ever have imagined.
Modern technology is great, however in the wrong hands it can be a dangerous weapon of mass destruction, and worse yet, mass control. In 1984 Orwell showed a world in which the people are under the control of the government through surveillance. Thought Police watch the people through telescreens, microphones and helicopters. Many people do not believe this will come true because they do not see it happening. However, if you look at the current state of technology you will easily see that it is being used, and that it is easier than ever. Many private companies are using these systems to watch both their property and their employees. Surveillance devices have become so small that it is now possible to make a camera and a microphone fit into a very small hole in the wall. Some companies are selling cameras disguised as smoke detectors. Police admittedly use small microphones as ‘wires’ to get confessions in undercover operations. It is entirely conceivable that the government could be watching us now. Perhaps, though only on a small scale.
The “Internet” is the newest buzz word running around, and with it comes new controversies over online surveillance. The people watching probably would not go directly into your account, that would be as illegal as entering your private room without a warrant. However, they could easily watch the packets of information running through their systems and rebuild the your private E-mail, or newsgroup transactions. This must be put to a stop. The telephone company is not allowed to listen in on your conversations just because the information travels through their systems. The United States Postal Service is not allowed to open your mail and read the contents because they deliver it. So what is the difference when you are using an Internet Service Provider, be it a direct monthly pay system or a school? This sort of destruction of privacy MUST be put to an end and quickly before we are all watched by Big Brother.
In order to change the future and the present you do not need to own a time machine. You simply have to control the past. In 1984 the government, or “The Party,” controlled the past. They were able to destroy all proof that something did or did not happen. If at the beginning of the year “The Party” published an estimate that 10 million shoes would be produced that year, and only 5 million were produced they would destroy all evidence of them ever having estimated 10 million. They would find all of the newspapers with this and destroy it. The Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue in NEWSPEAK) would have someone change the estimate to something like 3 million shoes. Then the next newspaper article would state that they actually over-filled their quota. This is a very scary thought. “The Party” in the book was able to destroy all of the references that something, even a person, ever existed. Although you KNEW he had, you could never find proof that it was true. The really scary part about this is that we could do this with even greater ease today. Since most information is now kept ondisk, and backed up onto even more magnetic media, one could simply destroy all areas where the data said that someone had existed. The only problem would be finding the newspapers and other references, which could be taken care of by agents of the government.
Our government is taking steps towards this type of Orwellian society all the time. It first started with the advent of the Social Security System. We now are required to receive serial numbers before a certain age so that we can be catalogued for this service, which I might add we will probably never receive. This seemingly innocent indexing of people has turned into a major privacy crisis. Our Social Security number is now used for everything. When one goes to college they use their number there. When you apply for a credit card or any service like this you use this number. We now have problems with people looking up our credit history using this one number. They do not even need our permission. This shows how our government can pull one over on us without us even realizing. At the time it seemed like a great idea. Which is probably how we will be duped in the future. Beware the mark of the beast. Another seemingly innocent attack on our privacy is the use of credit card like identification cards to keep track of us. President Clinton was thinking about making an American identification card to act as proof that we belong here. It is as if it has become so bad, that we must be contained by plastic. In colleges we are given an ID card which allows us to do all of our necessities, get into dorms, eat, and so on. It wouldn’t take very much for them to log when we eat, and when we go into our dorms. They must be doing some sort of communication to a main computer to show that we have eaten a certain amount of times that week. It would certainly take very little effort to log us entering in these transactions.
If it isn’t bad enough that they admit they want to catalogue their citizens, our government basically admits that they need to watch them as well. There was a bill sent through Congress which would force telecommunication companies to place a chip called the Clipper Chip into all of their products. This chip would allow the government, with two electronic keys, to watch our telecommunication transactions. We have many people to thank for this being stopped in its tracks. However, as if that isn’t bad enough, they passed an act called Digital Telephony. This bill states that the government will give a certain amount of money to large telecommunication providers (telephone mostly) to rework their networks so that the government’s men can attach themselves and listen to our private conversations. Let me repeat myself here, they are using OUR money to watch us. (I am unsure if this is finally law or if it was just passed through one of the houses.) One of the saddest commentaries to come from this disgusting use of tax dollars was that many of the groups which were set up to support privacy sold their souls and supported this retched bill. This just goes to show what a little money and power can do. Yet another attempt to censor us came with the idea of the V-Chip, a chip Clinton decided would be a great idea. To allow parents to decide what their children can and cannot watch. This seems innocent enough, however, if it is possible for the parents to decide, why not make it possible for the government to decide what we can and cannot see. It’s certainly possible.
There is a new type of warfare which has been shown to the U.S. citizenry. Apparently during the Haitian ordeal in order to get the citizens to be on the side we, the U.S., wanted them on, we flew a plain over the island and jammed their signals. We intercepted them, morphed them and sent them back down. We made their leaders say things which the people would surely disagree with. If this doesn’t scare you, I do not know what will. If our government can do this during wartime and make the citizenry revolt, I will leave it to your imagination what else they are capable of.
Finally, one of the major problems within America has to do with both class and racial differences. In the book 1984 there were three different social classes. The Inner Party, or the rich, The Outer Party, or the middle class, and the Proles, the poor. Throughout history there has always been this structure. The rich would get fat and out of touch. The middle class would resent the upper class and revolt becoming the upper class and leaving a new middle class. The poor would despise both of them and want to be rid of all such classifications. “The Party” simply channeled that property. They made all of the classes hate each other, keeping all of the classes apart and busy with this left “The Party” free to pull the wool over their eyes. This is how the surveillance was made possible. We in the U.S. are too busy arguing politics, and hating each other because of race that the government is pulling the wool over our eyes. They are working towards ways to keep us in line. I don’t know if there is a great conspiracy against us. All I know is that we are being taken as suckers, and pretty soon we will have no privacy to think of. We must work to stop the evolution of these and other destructions of privacy. We cannot allow ourselves to lose what little freedom we have left, and most of all we must always be able to say that 2+2=4.