Orwell’s works serve as a good reminder today

Published 8:30 pm Thursday, May 2, 2019

By Jimmy Terrell

George Orwell warned us in 1945 and again in 1984.

His 1945 novel, Animal Farm, drew a lot of attention at the time it was published. 

Using animals as his main characters, Orwell wrote allegorically of the Russian Revolution and how the Soviet Communist government had taken ownership of the Russian society and the Russian people.

His animal characters lived on a farm, but decided they would revolt and set up their own government.

In his story, Orwell demonstrated how the government used its power for corruption and oppression of the remaining members of the community.

A number of publishers at the time reportedly rejected Animal Farm for publication because they felt it was too controversial. The Soviet Union, China and Cuba banned the book.

Orwell returned to these Animal Farm themes in a second book, entitled ‘1984’ that was published in 1949.

In this book, the Party (the government) scrutinizes all human actions with an ever-watchful Big Brother. Individuality is not allowed to exist in the world.

Orwell’s observed and was concerned with the ease that Nazi Germany had in rising to power and what it accomplished both prior to and after its swift climb. Simultaneously, he had continued to watch the growth of Communism in Russia prior to and after World War II.

The author expressed fear that governments around the world might start destroying individual rights and freedoms. He had a deep fear that the world might lose the “individual thinker.”

Orwell wanted people to understand the danger and negative power of government and in his view the world was susceptible to governments that pursued a totalitarian style of governing.

The British writer’s books greatly impacted Western culture. He was not hesitant in writing about ideas and conditions that he felt would be destructive to a free society.

Looking back in recent months, it’s quite possible America teetered on the brink of Orwell’s fears.

Perhaps it’s time to provide every elected official in Congress with a copy of Animal Farm and 1984. It should be required reading. There are members of Congress and their constituents who want to change, even erase our history rather than learn from it.

We won’t be a better society by hiding from our past or failing to teach it to current and future generations. Our history is what it is.

That doesn’t restrict or say that we can’t become a better society or a better people.

We need to remind ourselves of two Orwell quotes.

In 1984 Orwell said, “Every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered.And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Orwell’s other gift to our future said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

Critical thoughts to our own future, to be sure!