It might sound hyperbolic to say we're living in an Orwellian time, but it's more accurate than you might think
If you are reading this then you did not drink yourself into a suicidal stupor after watching the first Trump/Biden debate last night. Congratulations: America has officially gone full 1984 (the Orwell remix).
I know it sounds like hyperbole to say that we are living in a purely Orwellian time. It is a comparison that has been batted around ever since Trump took office. I need to make it very clear that we are fast-tracking our way right into the world of 1984 proper, and those of us a little further down the political power ladder are already there.Get the Other Columbus delivered to your inbox every Wednesday: Sign up for our daily newsletter
With Trump’s recent announcement that he plans to institute “Patriotic Education,” as well as framing diversity training as racist, our government is actively attempting to rewrite history, the most recent exhibit in a years-long campaign of doublethink. The president makes up random, unimaginative branches of government (Space Force) and initiatives whose missions don’t seem very far from the agenda of the sardonically named Ministry of Love, whose dance card included daily indoctrination and torture. The current administration’s foreign policy largely consists of cryptic nationalism, attempting to disconnect America from other countries financially but also denying popular communication through the bully sale of companies such as TikTok. Trump’s deep and rampant anti-intellectualism seeks to make Thought Police out of the most rabid sectors of his base, punishing any criticism of him as a thoughtcrime.
Trump is Big Brother in the purest sense. He isn’t a leader so much as a mouthpiece. You’re not sure if he actually exists as a human being, such is the grotesque pall he casts over everything he touches. No one more unfit has ever assumed the mantle of president, and I’m comparing him to slave-owners. At least Washington was a monster who could read a book.
I am not sketching out an analogy. I am saying this is how Orwell’s story begins in real time. Other countries recognize what this administration is doing. They’ve seen it in their former dictators and coups. It is Americans, opiated as we are on a freedom that isn’t actually free and is plenty dumb, that don’t get what we’re letting slide into the roux of our citizenship.
A couple of predictions: If Trump wins, the game is over, welcome to 1984; please burn your copy of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism at the fire pit in the back. If he loses, we go down some other dystopian course (my money’s on Fight Club, but you have options). They won’t be as on the nose as 1984. It may even seem like a relief, the way — to paraphrase Malcolm X — pulling a knife halfway out of a wound is a relief.