Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Publication.png Nineteen Eighty-Four 
(dystopia,  book,  sci-fiAmazon WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Nineteen Eighty-Four.jpg
Publication date1949
Author(s)George Orwell
Subjectsnew world order,  totalitarianism,  newspeak,  doublespeak
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A critically acclaimed and some have said all too prophetic warning about totalitarian government.

Not to be confused with the eponymous year in which it was set, 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel about a totalitarian future of perpetual war managed by a tiny elite.


Published amid a mood of post war optimism, the novel describes a futuristic techno-totalitarian system of governance, in which three superpowers are engaged in perpetual war. It is futuristic, but is not primarily a science fiction novel — the emphasis is more psycho-social than technological, exploring for example patterns of social control and the psychology of dissidence.


Full article: Orwellian Language

Orwell coins many new words in the novel, which he describes as 'Newspeak'. His focus on deceptive language, particularly in this book, has lead to the word "Orwellian" being used to describe semantically inverted language - i.e. language which actually means the opposite of what it appears to mean.

Perpetual War

Full article: Perpetual War

The nation states are engaged in permanent war with each other.

Permanent war 1984.jpg

Universal surveillance

Full article: Universal surveillance

Orwell predicts the 21st century Mass surveillance by populating the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four with hidden monitoring equipment such as television cameras.

Big brother.jpg

"Steve Jobs included a clip of the movie when Apple launched the Mac, in 1983. 1984 and the internet age coincide and determine the possibility of life imitating art."[1]

Elite rule

Anticipating the Supranational Deep State, the novel depicts a large majority of uninformed and materially deprived citizens ("the proles") who are routinely deceived and swindled by a small minority of party members.

Party members' lives are more disciplined, so for example they are expected to attend the daily "2 minutes of hate" session during which they focus on enemy images.



Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four has given a rich lexicon of images, words and ideas to assist in discourse about totalitarianism. Some modern discourse is replete with references to the book, which coined many phrases and explored concepts of use when grappling with a totalitarian superstate. The disease COVID-19 was quickly re-labelled "COVID-1984" as a shorthand way of describing its possible uses and/or sinister origins.

A reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four about COVID-19 laws

In popular culture

In the storyline of the 2018 Hollywood remake of Fahrenheit 451,[2] the Ministry (in the sense of the Ministry of Truth in 1984) that dictates most facets of life, is the successor to the Big tech companies of our time.[3]

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  3. "During the second civil war, the old tech companies developed systems to predict our thoughts. Then they became the ministry, or the Ministry joined them."