Orwell In Relief
Poor old Winston Smith: hiding in his apartment, keeping his secret diary. If only he had had access to the internet, his assertion that 2+2=4 could have inspired a nation to revolution. All the while Winston worried that his thoughtcrime would be discovered – which indeed it was. As he said (in the movie, at least) “If there is hope, it lies with the proles. If they could become conscious of their own strength there would be no need to conspire.”
It seems that the social networking, that Winston Smith lacked, has worked. The proletariat have become conscious of their own strength. And the domino effect is happening. The Big Brothers are falling. And just as well – Gaddafi thinks Libya will become a laughing stock? Irony… Astounding to see megalomania broadcast live. Unbelievable horror and atrocity. I wonder how it will end.
The irony is this: we have been warned about sharing too much online. I am all in favour of keeping information where it should be and being cautious – but it was by sharing thoughts that people felt sufficiently confident to act. Before recent days, people would have worried that the government was watching and listening to the micro-blogosphere – perhaps they were – but this scrutiny and surveillance seems no longer to be feared.
I am fascinated by this internet-revolution. In the future I imagine the Middle-Eastern Internet Revolution being taught in school alongside the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. Alongside the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. History is in the making. I just hope that the countries involved can learn from history and avoid power vacuums.
As for Winston Smith, political power was like a “boot stamping on a human face forever”. Not so now, it would seem. Thoughtcrime is perhaps no longer the death it once was.