Why the Book 1984 Reads Like Modern Non-Fiction

"Freedom" is the Freedom to Know and Speak the Truth

I’m re-reading George Orwell’s book, 1984, and it feels like a completely new book today, with the perspective gained by living before and after the age of wokeism, thought policing, and Cultural Marxism. The Communist dystopia into which we’re brought in the book was once just the stuff of fantasy to us in the Western world—especially as an American. That’s not so true anymore. A lot of what I see in 1984 smacks of reality in 2024.

One example touches on a message I put forward a few weeks ago in a clip that—as usual—got almost zero attention on social media. I’ll embed it beneath this paragraph for you to review if you’d like.

My message or warning in that clip was that it’s important to teach children the truth and why it’s the truth. If they aren’t taught why a truth is what it is, they can be dislodged from it, reprogrammed, and made to believe a lie. Maybe Orwell can advance that warning better than I was able to. So, let’s take an intellectual stroll through a moment in Chapter 7 of the book as I share and intersperse my thoughts, analyzing how the chapter mirrors modern reality. As a man of many stories, I’ll set a foundation with yet another one.

The Dirty G-Word – Gender

A few years ago, I was speaking to a class of 8th graders preparing for Confirmation. Something I wanted to impress upon them was the importance of asking their teachers hard questions and being open to discussing difficult or touchy subjects that may not be acceptable subject matter out in the world or in their secular schools; subjects that are off-limits in the modern secular world, but, as they stand in contrast to Church teaching, need to be addressed maturely and thoughtfully in a Catholic setting. I invited them to tell me some things they see or hear out in the world that they know don’t seem right. Responses ticked every box on the Required Secular Talking Points list. They ranged from racism to gun violence to bullying and economic justice. 

“Really?” I said. “Is that the best you can do?” I was surprised and disappointed. So, I prodded them a bit further. “No one thinks gender theory doesn’t seem right?”

The crowd went wild! They became animated with surprise and relief that someone used the dirty G word—Gender—in the open. Everyone wanted to say it, but they were all hesitant. One of the students said, “I wanted to say that, but I was afraid I’d get canceled!” as others shouted, “Same!” and “Me too!” in agreement. These poor kids were literally afraid to speak Truth and even to ask about it. The conversation was substantial and lively once the floor was cleared of fear and doubt. They weren’t asking about racism or gun violence anymore but wanted to discuss the Church’s view of gender theory, gay marriage, and social justice. Fun fact: You’d be surprised and disturbed by how many of these kids did not know that the Church does not accept gender theory as Truth. Another fun fact: One of the students reported me to the thought police the next day. Still think 1984 is just fiction?

Back to the Present

Let’s go back to 1984—not in a DeLorean but in the book. We’ll peek into a moment in the day of the main character, Winston, as he’s writing in his journal—a very risky act and potential thought-crime. Winston is not on board with the Party line. For those unfamiliar with the book, you could think of “the Party” as the extreme Left, the “woke” or the militant secular culture. It’s all the same thing. Winston lives the Party line but isn’t at peace with it. Because the Party has been in power since his early childhood, he doesn’t remember what the world was like before. And so he doesn’t quite know why the Party is wrong; he just strongly senses that it is. In Chapter 7 we find him in his apartment, tucked away in a nook where a bookshelf would otherwise be set into the wall. He’s there because it’s the only spot in his apartment that’s outside of the view of the Telescreen, which is always watching and listening and would certainly spot him flirting with Thought Crime, writing in his journal. As he’s writing in his secret journal, he’s thinking deep thoughts about the state of things in the world he lives in. What he has to say will make it sound like he was gazing into a crystal ball, peering into our own time.

“[Winston] wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was a lunatic…” The face of Big Brother on the cover of a children’s history book peered at the reader “as though some huge force were pressing down upon you…frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you to deny the evidence of your senses.” 

It sounds eerily like the world we’re living in today. A world in which our children and many young adults have developed. The fear of the social “big brother” forces us to rethink and reformulate what we know to be true and to accept something that, deep down, we know to be false. After a period of time playing this game of make-believe in harmony with cultural brainwashing, many even convince themselves that the lie is the Truth. Their consciences will rebel for a time, but will gradually be subdued.

The ”face of Big Brother,” the huge force pressing down upon everyone sounds, to me, like the eyes and ears of any person who is part of the hive mind of the secular world. It may be the public school teacher or guidance counselor. It may be co-workers or peers. In whatever way “Big Brother” manifests in people’s lives, he very much tries to frighten people—especially the youth—out of their beliefs, and pressures them to deny not only the evidence of the senses but out of common sense.

If we don’t learn or teach others, how to love God, who is Truth itself, and how to count as worthless the opinions of the world, we will be complicit in the evils that result from a cultural rejection of Truth.

“In the end, the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.”

In the video I produced I coincidentally used the example of one plus one. Once the mind comprehends that one plus one equals two, it’s impossible to convince it that they equal anything else. If we teach our children why, in this case, two and two make four, it’ll be very difficult for the world to convince them that two and two equal five. We have to teach them why the truth is what it isIt’s not good enough anymore to simply teach them what the truth is because the world is increasingly pressuring them to alternative “truths” (lies). The world does this first by disqualifying the real Truth that they have already been given by their parents and the Church (Critical Theory is a hallmark of Cultural Marxism), then by replacing it with the lie, which they are told is the real truth.

“Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by [the Party’s] philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense… And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right.”

I have heard “What if they’re right?” many times from young people (Teens to mid-twenties). My response to that is Truth tells on itself, it can always be proven, and it always and in all ways stands up to logical challenge and examination. Indeed, the heresy of heresies today truly is common sense because we use sense/reason to arrive at Truth. 

“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works?…The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

We’ve all heard “follow the science.” but the sciences become inconvenient to “the Party” when they disprove gender claims, the indispensable nature of fathers (or even of men), or dual-parent and dual-gender households. Bob Dylan said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Some truths don’t need a scientist to be their voice. Human reason, logically analyzing the evidence of your eyes and ears, is often enough. But when common sense becomes the enemy, we’re told to look to the science. When the science doesn’t support the lies of “the Party,” we’re meant to shut up and accept the lie anyway, “…or else!”  As it is in 1984, so it is in 2024. The congruence almost sounds like a terrifying joke. One that isn’t funny.

Yet another sad reality is the disempowerment of persons through disabling their minds and conditioning them to overestimate the quality of the minds and arguments of those speaking the Party line. Orwell captures this masterfully in this powerful segment of the chapter.

“[Winston’s] heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong, and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall to the earth….Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” 

Winston’s feeling of powerlessness against the intellectual force and prowess of the Party mirrors what we see today throughout human culture. Pop culture and the institutions of the hive mind (the Party) dissuade people from thinking critically—or thinking at all. They’re told how to think, how to speak, what words to use and not to use. Worse, they’re pressured to use words that reflect emotion, not reality (Everything is “racist” even if it isn’t actually racism.) because they’re also conditioned to put feelings over facts, so it becomes necessary that language reflects that. It’s almost our own version of 1984’s “Newspeak.” Feelings are easy to manipulate, after all, while reality (Truth) is unchangeable. The best anyone can do in their diabolic desire to change Truth/reality is to build an illusion of an alternate reality, like in a play. This illusion is maintained by forcing others to support the illusion by playing their supporting roles in the production of this play. If anyone in the audience were to shout “Fake!” or “False!” they’d have to know what reality outside the theater looks like before they can make an argument for why what they see on stage is not true to life—is not reality. If they don’t have this perspective, or if it’s clouded, they’d sooner sit down and watch the show in silence than cause a stir and look foolish.

This charade has rendered many people incapable of arguing or debating anything based on Truth. They’re intimidated or even frightened by the idea of standing up for what they know is the truth because those in “the Party” sound like perfect intellectuals. In reality, they’re not. Their eloquence and high-minded words compose statements and arguments that are not only out of accord with Truth and reality but, in and of themselves, often don’t make sense at all. A person would have to have a reasonably disciplined mind and an informed perspective to see through the illusion. Two and Two do make five when you have first redefined “Two,” “Five,” and “equals,” then hope that no one else knows or remembers how those words are actually defined (in reality) and calls you out on it.

In my latest podcasts, I’ve been talking a lot about Truth. It’s a more important subject than I think people realize. The reality distortion field that is 1984/2024 is only possible when people are no longer capable of discerning Truth, distinguishing it from falsehoods and lies masked as “truth,” are no longer able to achieve and maintain balance in Truth and don’t know how to articulate (or wield!) Truth. When we and Truth are acquaintances but not best friends, we surrender civilization, humanity, and our souls, hearts, and minds to the enemy.

The Truth Train continues down the tracks of my podcast. It’s not entertainment, it’s boot camp. See you there. God be with you, and with those you love.

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