Although it was published in 1949 at the end of World War II, I believe George Orwell’s fictional novel, 1984is still as relevant today as it was then.
The book is set in the fictional state of Oceania, where a dystopian future has taken over the reins of society. The nation’s leader, Big Brother, keeps a constant eye on the citizens, ensuring that they think, act, and say precisely how they should promote the leaders’ goals.
Governed by the Party, the people of Oceania do not enjoy any form of freedom, neither in the way they think, nor in the way they speak, nor in what they do.
I believe (and I am not alone) that in the current state of our society, with the collection of data and the monitoring of all online activities, we are not very far from the problems faced by those involved in The fiction. However, there may be hope in the power of Bitcoin as a means to create our version of freedom.
The power of totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political regime governed entirely by the state, with no input from citizens other than to keep quiet and obey. According to the Party, the system of government in place in the novel, individuals must be controlled and constantly monitored in order to ensure that they fulfill their role in the hands of the Party.
In other words, every decision, no matter how small or inconsequential, made by members of the working class, must be made based on what the Party wishes to achieve. In the novel, one of these ideals is to create a world in which individualism has no role, and anyone who transgresses or disobeys this ideal is subject to elimination – literally.
The main character, Winston Smith, fulfills his duty at the Ministry of Truth by erasing rebellious individuals from the history books and rendering them non-existent in the past, present and future.
Another feature of the totalitarian government of Oceania is its omnipresent surveillance of everyone’s lives, thanks to the intrusive telescreen, which monitors every movement of individuals, the masterminds behind the system of government can control and manipulate how citizens are supposed to behave.
I think it’s obvious that this constant surveillance and loss of privacy described in the novel echoes current concerns about data collection by governments and corporations.
Everything we do online, whether we give consent or not, is tracked and analyzed under the guise of data collection. Our personal information is also collected for market research purposes and apparently used to help us by providing more targeted advertising.
But how useful is all this data collection to the average person? Some might say it’s not beneficial, like Edward Snowden, who publicly expressed concerns about our privacy.
Manipulation and distortion of information
In 1984, the Ministry of Truth has used information manipulation as a powerful weapon of control. History is rewritten daily and propaganda is disseminated in an attempt to influence citizens’ decisions.
Smith, as an employee of the Ministry of Truth, is at the forefront of this distortion of information at the beginning of the book.
As the novel progresses, we see the detrimental effects of manipulating Big Data. Not only in his work but also in his personal life, when he seriously questions his life and work.
Does this manipulation of information remind you of anything? This should be because the spread of fake news and disinformation on social media is a major cause of concern in political, economic and social spaces.
Social media platforms, accessed by 60.49% of people worldwide, are used to spread conspiracy theories and misleading information through the use of various techniques, including deep fakes.
This in turn influences public opinion and contributes to the creation of an alternative, often distorted, reality.
Repression of dissident thought
Dissident thinking is a fundamental characteristic of the totalitarian regime of Orwell’s era. 1984. It highlights the repression of independent thought and mindless consumption of information without questioning its validity.
An example of this repression is found in doublethink, a process by which the Party controls the ideas and thoughts of individuals.
Doublethink, as described by Orwell, presents two opposing ideas as truth. For example, the Party’s slogan is War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
In modern debates over free speech, we increasingly see the repression of opposing patterns of thought. Hate speech and extremist ideas are ignored or even censored in some countries.
This goes directly against what free speech means. Do you see how two different things are sold as one?
To avoid this doublethink mentality, we must preserve freedom of thought and maintain a safe space where ideas can be expressed and debated, whether or not they fit into government narratives.
The power of resistance
As Smith goes through his internal struggles over the freedom to think and do as he wants, we see a more concerted effort on his part to deny the Party what it wants: obedience to the rule of law .
Even though he never truly achieved the freedom he desires due to the suppression of his rebellion, there is a lesson to be learned from his actions. This demonstrates the power of individual resistance and the ripple effects it can have on your immediate community.
In this day and age, we need to be reminded that every individual has the power to make a difference – in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.
Social movements and widespread protests, which are gaining even more momentum through social media platforms, are examples of how citizens can come together to defend their rights and fight against injustices. As Orwell said: “In an age of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. »
Julian Assange and Wikileaks realized the power they had to change the status quo. Additionally, they recognized the role of independent thinkers when it comes to funding the distribution of materials encouraging dissident thought.
It was during this time that the Assange-supporting community used Bitcoin to raise the money needed to keep Wikileaks going, as institution after institution censored Wikileaks and everyone associated with it.
What about Bitcoin?
When I reached the end of 1984it was always thought that Orwell could not have written this fiction if Bitcoin had existed in the late 1940s.
People who are able to exchange money and carry out transactions without the need for a central bank have no obligation to obey or be totally submissive to the party that controls the money.
This causes the government to lose much of its power as the need to print or create more money disappears.
Orwell’s themes and warnings in 1984 are still relevant today – perhaps even more so. From the dangers of totalitarianism and the distortion of information to the repression of free speech and thought, the novel still has many lessons to teach us in today’s society.
The government doesn’t want us to know that we have the right to fight for financial freedom. The proof is the continued social and legal persecution of Assange, Snowden and Ross Ulbricht, all of whom are committed to the ideals of freedom of movement and expression.
Orwell’s novel reminds us of the importance of freedom, privacy and resistance in the face of oppression. It also helps us understand the challenges our society faces and how we can work together to co-create a fairer and more enlightened future.
And maybe, just maybe, Bitcoin can help us achieve the free and fair world we all deserve.
This is a guest post from Nesrine Aïssani. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.