Sometimes when reading classics, it begins to feel like the characters are a world away, completely unrelatable. Then, there are some books that you read that you wish were completely unrelatable, recently, 1984 by George Orwell, has become one such book.
With the rise in legislation permitting government surveillance, phone tapping etc, it has begun to feel increasing like we are living in a surveillance State. There was a whole host of new laws passed in one almost unopposed bundle, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, supposedly in the name of ‘national security’. One of the big issues with this, is that people feel unable to vocally oppose the new laws, for fear of being labelled unpatriotic, or against national security. The moment words like terrorist and security come into play, people begin acting with their emotions, not their rational minds. The thought of the threat of a terrorist attack is sufficiently scary to motivate the majority of people to agree with measures that the government claims will protect them. I find this rather unnerving, because it grants the government the ability to pass extreme measures, such as permitting blanket surveillance, and do so without a comprehensive and public debate.
Giving governments and security services powers to snoop into all corners of your life, and increase these powers as and when they wish, sounds eerily like an Orwellian novel. Although democratic Europe is a far cry from Orwell’s totalitarian State, the general ideas about surveillance and privacy remain pertinent. The question is, how far would you sacrifice your privacy in the name of security, and in doing so, what do we as a society lose?
Thus, I think 1984 remains as relevant today as when it was written, proving that although we feel times have changed, the overriding issues remain essentially the same.