In George Orwell’s final masterpiece, 1984, Big Brother is always there. Whether in his flat or rogering his bird in the woods, Big Brother is always there. There is a similar omnipresence in today’s world. No, it isn’t Graham Norton on TV. It isn’t Americans in St Andrews. It isn’t even glory holes in public toilets. The only omnipresence in the world is mention of 1984 in political articles.
The use of the terms Orwell invented in his work is appropriate in describing the modern attack on liberty, yes. There is no question Orwell possessed superb vision in his description of a potential omnipotent fascist state. 1984 remains the critique of authoritarian power.
However there comes a point where opposition to increased government power needs some form of originality. 1984 was published in 1949, over 60 years ago now, and yet it is still the first point every liberal makes in defence of liberty. You a bit of a libertarian? You getting a bit of a kicking in a debate? You want a way out? Use the “Orwellian” card. BAM. Debate won. It’s like the anti-Semitic card being pulled by defenders of Israeli aggression. Get out of jail free, every time baby.
But more than that, it is the staple diet of every lazy journalist looking to write an article on, well, anything really. John Pilger is very fond of this tactic. Pull a few of Orwell’s terms out, apply it to modern day politics, job done. A very quick search on liberal websites such as the Guardian pulls up this. The New Statesman pulls up this. The Independent has a really shit search function. Huffington Post this. Hysterically it was also used by the far right in America to oppose health care reform. You get the picture.
As masterful as the work is, do we really need it trotted out every time we want to make a point about liberty? It has almost moved beyond cliché that Orwell is used. 1984 is more overused than Jordan’s fanny Perhaps it’s time to move on.