Sometimes I have a persistent feeling that the gloomy worlds of dystopian novels, such as George Orwell’s 1984, have become our new reality. There are too many similarities, and some of them are striking. You can see it for yourself if you read through the list of 1984 quotes about control.
We live in truly remarkable times. Never before has the information been so abundant. And so easily manipulated.
We thought that today, when everyone carries a camera in their pocket, it would be almost impossible to hide the truth. And here we are.
Whole fake news industries are created to distort the facts. Corrupt politicians talk about morals and justice. Public figures claim that more weapons will bring peace. No alternative opinion is allowed in the mass media, and yet, we constantly hear about freedoms and rights.
Aren’t we living in the world of 1984 already? Maybe some people forgot that George Orwell’s novel was supposed to be a warning, not a manual.
I’ll leave this list of 1984 quotes here for you to think. Read through it and ask yourself if it reminds you of what’s going on in our society today.
1984 Quotes about Control, Mass Manipulation, and the Distortion of the Truth
1. War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
2. Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
3. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
4. The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness, and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.
5. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.
6. We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.
7. Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
8. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?
9. The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.
10. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.
11. The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.
12. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an aeroplane, they had to make four.
13. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.
14. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.
15. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.
16. Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.
17. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding, they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.
18. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.
19. If he were allowed contact with foreigners, he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies.
20. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.
21. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal.
22. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.
23. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
24. In the end, the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.
25. Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning to think as they thought.
26. “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
27. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
28. Nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record.
29. Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals that the party was trying to achieve.
30. But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
The Similarities Are Scary
So, what are your thoughts on this list of 1984 quotes about control and mass manipulation? I find things described in George Orwell’s masterpiece scarily relatable to today’s society.
But there is a way to confront mass manipulation, and it is to apply critical thinking to everything you learn. Don’t take anything at face value. Always ask yourself why.
- Why is it being said?
- Why is it being shown?
- Why is this idea/trend/movement being promoted?
The more people are able to think critically, the harder it becomes to fool the masses. That’s the only answer if we don’t want to find ourselves living on the pages of a dystopian novel such as 1984.
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