"1984" As 1940's Anglo Civilization, and Today's"

«How to read English non-fiction: skip the text, but scan it for jokes. For a man shackled by the most rigid system of politesse in the Western world, a joke is the only way an Englishman has to express what he really believes.» An advice from some Tatar.

In that sense, 1984 is a very non-English book. It's painfully sincere, but maximally unfunny. It's so non-English that some people actually believe its vision has much more to do with Russian Communists or with German National Socialists; at most, with Trump, but not with the "Cathedral" as a whole. Certainly it's this shallow level that people like Freedland would rather constrain the discourse to. That makes for quite the parable: not one dystopia or the other, but a controlled debate by tedious «public intellectuals», making use of both as sources of examples for advancing a hot-button hare-brained doctrine, tiling the whole space of allowable free marketplace with their cheap wares. After checking out the first few minutes of the video, I decided against watching the rest.

As for me, I believe that 1984 was not a grim prophesy at all, but instead a caricature of the seamy side of life in Anglo civilization as of the late 1940's already. It describes the world of Orwell's contemporary, a lower-middle class white collar worker who is dimly aware of the existence of «the Inner Party», aristocratic members of elite fraternities and secret societies, intellectual trailblazers, NGO apparatchiks, «Deep State», but has no real insight into their designs... But maybe that's reaching too far, let the master speak himself:

The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists, and professional politicians. These people, whose origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralized government. As compared with their opposite numbers in past ages, they were less avaricious, less tempted by luxury, hungrier for pure power, and, above all, more conscious of what they were doing and more intent on crushing opposition.

It is, in fact, explicitly noted that IngSoc came to be in its almost complete form, while overshadowed by authoritarian ideologies of that era. Which was convenient.

In 2021, Winston Smith posts on Reddit from his work PC, in between shadow-editing 2020 articles on COVID leak from Eastasian lab (as he was commanded to do by his immediate superior in a curt email). He's not supposed to think deeply about the power play underpinning this sudden change, only to wait for another section of the system to produce an expedient explanation. Nor is he interested. After all, Reddit doesn't take kindly to conspiracy theorists like those Trump-loving Q people.

Doublethink is what we do here, too. All the time. It's about turning lip service into orthodoxy enforced by circular firing squad; establishing a narrative so thoroughly, everyone is committed to defend it to the point that even providing an example of doublethink is unthinkable. So people have to maintain two models of the world - one for objectively deciding their actions and one for explaining them; and to believe in both, because lies are easily snuffed out and punished. Still, some sort of human awareness can slip through, once in a decade or more, in the form of a joke. Like that 1996 bit courtesy of Norm Macdonald. Eventually it'll be scrubbed by our Winstons too.

That's about the Corona of social haves, the Outer Party, though - lawyers, mid-career academics, software engineers... Actual proles, for now, still get to enjoy frankness and crude beliefs; as a rule they do not get canceled. They are also ignorant, powerless and their opinions are avoided like plague by the Party members so as to not catch loser germs.

Once more, Galkovsky's hot take on, ahem, the esoteric meaning of Orwell's book... is once again causing the post to be banned. Telegraph is not welcome here. Oh well, the irony is worth it and it's more objectionable than what I wrote.

As for Huxley's BNW, it's just science fiction preoccupied with some extrapolations of technical and parascientific topics which were historically discussed in the Huxley/Darwin family and their social circle. It's even less of a prophecy: more like a draft of a blueprint, or an ironic grant proposal (thus, about as truthful as you can have it with normal Anglos).

One important detail is that BNW didn't involve genetic manipulation, instead they dealt with pre- and perinatal conditioning of future members of the Society. It's telling that /r/SneerClub is aware of this (because they actually, like, read books), but the author of that blurb for «Intelligence Squared» is not. However, he didn't miss the chance to kick the (largely imaginary) Silicon Valley eugenicists, reminding the public to keep watching them warily (as if the Silicon Valley's own Big Brother is not enough).

This is what public intellectuals are about, after all.