George Orwell’s 1984…How Close Are We

A Viewpoint from 1994


A 1994 look at how much the United States was looking like Orwell’s 1984 world.

In December of 1994, I wrote this piece in concern for where we were going as a nation. This look at how close we were to the Orwellian 1984 should have been a wake up call then. Today, it’s no surprise that unheeded, we have become much more close to 1984 than ever before:

Anyone who’s read George Orwell’s 1984 realizes that he was not on target with his date. However each week we find our society more and more like that of Orwell’s. The changes have been rapidly enveloping us, but so subtle and segmented that it’s nearly here, and hardly a notice has been given.

The security needs of military installations and financial institutions brought camera surveillance into the mainstream. First perimeter cameras and teller surveillance were for the protection and deterrence of would be robbers and saboteurs. As camera prices dropped their use became widespread.

You cannot hide from the camera today. Shopping malls, banks, department stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, and post offices all have video surveillance. Is there a camera where you shop?

Corporate espionage brought cameras into the workplace sometime ago. Used at entrances and externally the cameras help deter this and employee theft. Could this video footage be abused? Do you have cameras at work?

As you’re driving note all cameras that you can see, drive through banks, fast food drive throughs, external building cameras. How about the Department of Transportation cameras on the interstates and local roadways, what about ATM machines. Make a game of it and see just how much coverage there is.

Most news organizations have cameras in the air, on the ground, or have access to the DOT cameras. Police cars are being equipped with cameras.

Violence against and amongst children has prompted cameras to be used in school hallways and at parks and playgrounds. Is this conditioning the next generation to let themselves be watched without question?

Are these benign? Maybe, but is deliberate use of cameras to watch. Shows like America’s Most Wanted, Current Affair, Bloopers have prompted society to turn their personal cameras against their fellow citizen. If you make a mistake, criminally or just embarrassing, will you see yourself on television? Is your neighbor spying on you?

So if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about, right?
Do you know of some law that you disagree with? Maybe you speed, maybe abortions will become illegal, there’s bound to be something. What if laws were enacted and cameras were used to ensure compliance. Would you take the chance if you knew you’d be caught? Would you let government force it’s ideology upon you?

Paranoia? No simple facts. Even society in this country has shown irrationality and ignorance of rights promised under the constitution. Laws so ridiculous by today’s standards are still on the law books, ready to be enforced at someone’s whim. Laws are enveloped in large package deals like NAFTA and GATT, slipping by the American public, until someone enforces them.

With GATT mentioned lets digress back to Orwell’s 1984 society. All global newborns are to be numbered under GATT. Does this sound familiar? What are we doing to ourselves?

Every day the convenience of cash and checks are being replaced with the use of credit, charge, and debit cards. France developed a “smart card” years ago, ironically in 1984. Smart cards were touted as being able to track your financial and medical information. It also had a secure area inaccessible to the user. Bad credit information, gun owner, your religion, your political position, your race could be in the unknown area.

The same smart card is being projected as the replacement of cash by financial institutions. Soon cash will disappear completely. Many places refuse to take personal checks, another form of legal tender, but they’ll take credit. If you use direct deposit or pay bills electronically, you already deal with credits. Why would you need a piece of paper called money?

Now that we all have a number, use credits, and are under constant surveillance from cameras at work, in public, and possibly in our own yards what is so bad?

Well lets add video phones to the home and work place, add interactive televisions or add full video to your modem equipped computer, and find ourselves under the ever watchful and protective eye of the governments. Yes, that was government(s). Federal, state, local, and with GATT and the future “New World Order,” global government too.

Ever hear of a “Clipper Chip”? It’s the National Security Agencies chip to be embedded in all future electronic transmission medium, modems, cellular phones, video phones, and computers, are examples. They refuse to divulge the specifications on the chip. What does it do?

Does the chip allow listening into your conversations? Maybe it captures your faxes and files. Maybe it turns on the cameras.

Again we all are upstanding citizens with no intention of breaking the law, no matter what the law. We can conform to the regulations set forth by our governments, who never takes advantage of us. After all, this isn’t Nazi Germany, and the government is ever trustworthy. Aren’t they?……

“When they came for the Jews, I wasn’t Jewish, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Catholics, again I wasn’t Catholic, so I did nothing. They came for the blacks, I wasn’t black, why should I care. Now they come for me, I look for help, but no one’s there.”

One last concept. Are we set to accept the world of George Orwell? If not, we have legalized and assisted suicide becoming accepted. “Did he really sign the release form? He seemed so happy. Well he did seem angry at the protest last week. Oh well, lots of people are doing it these days.”