Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Anyone for dystopia?


‘Forget Nineteen Eighty-Four. These five dystopias better reflect Trump’s US:
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has shot up the bestseller charts. The book’s chilling account of a couple’s struggle against a dystopian society has many elements that will strike a contemporary reader as disturbingly prescient. Orwell’s description of “doublespeak” – the ability, and requirement, to utterly believe two contradictory thoughts at the same time – feels tailor-made for a president who simultaneously believes that three to five million “illegals” voted in the election, and that his victory in that election was completely fair and valid.

Similarly, the Party’s slogan that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” seems to chime with the White House’s incorrect claim that Trump won the general election with “the most [electoral votes] since any Republican since Reagan” (he didn’t) or that the crowd on 20 January was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration” (it wasn’t).

But Nineteen Eighty-Four is also a book about a particular kind of dystopian state: an authoritarian Stalinist future-Britain, based on the fears Orwell felt most pressing in 1948. Maybe it’s time to find better dystopias? . . ‘

Readers are invited to contribute their own preferred dystopia at the end.


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