If Orwell was still alive


There are at least two novels that almost everyone - no, come on, let's say many - have read, without clearly understanding so much. I'm talking about Animal Farm and 1984, both written by George Orwell, whose yesterday, January 21, was the seventy years since his death.

It is often said that the fate of a novelist is not to be understood unless he is dead. Bullshit! Often one is not understood even after seventy and more years have passed since one's death. The English writer is an evidence of this. He is studied at school, in universities, he is found in every bookshop and library.

Still, Orwell appears to have written one line but one in his entire life. Go and see what happens when it comes to censorship on Facebook and social media in general. You know all the various “But it is a private platform and they can do what they wants”? The average standard is that. Stuff that the author of 1984 would turn pale, only to opt for suicide.

The famous texts we are talking about, both tell, one in the form of a fairy tale, the other of a dystopian novel, just what we are experiencing today. Magically, despite this, no one seems to have noticed - even and especially among those who have read them.

Orwell was certainly not a fascist, but he was certainly an anti-communist, at least in what communism was in his contemporary declination, namely the Soviet Union. However, let's forget for a moment about Communists, Fascists and Liberals, and let us stick to certain disturbing parallels between those books and today's reality.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”, it is said in Animal Farm, yet no one, faced with the prevailing double standards that pretends to be democracy an epochal disparity in treatment, arises indignant, if not perhaps those who are victim of it. The difference of consideration between state and private; the economic refreshments granted to some and denied to others, the Islamic terrorists who make propaganda on Facebook, while Trump is silenced; the Chinese who can open businesses with tax breaks that are not granted [here in Italy] to Italians… Should I continue? I do not think it is the case, given the the landscape that has emerged is already extremely bleak.

What is most frightening, however, is that you do not see any affinity between the story of 1984 and the current contingency. In that remarkable work, there were bureaucrats assigned to the frightening task of impoverishing language, reducing the vocabulary and turning it into something that inhibited the ability to reason. Not to mention the censorship exercised on thought and arts. Does nobody see any similarity between Boldrini's battles for the X, the asterisk, or what the fuck was it, at the end of certain words, so as not to offend the “intermediate genders” and other minorities [1]? Does nobody thinks of the iconoclastic violence of the cancel culture which, from America to Italy, demolishes statues, censors works of art due to the presence of the word “black” or because they are marked by dated gender stereotypes?

Better not to mention the famous slogan that stood out in all the posters described by the narrator in his novel: “Big Brother is watching you”. Among all our own data that are sold - to be clear, Facebook does not perform any free service since Zuckerberg sells valuable information on our account – there are our screens, which, as we should well know, are used to see, but also allow to be seen: pay attention to the camera on your tablet or smartphone, the one for selfies.

Yeah, better not talk about it. But, if you listen to those on the Left, this is the best of all possible worlds and there is no affinity between those novels and the real – “You conspiracy theorist!”.

After all, what was Orwell inspired by to outline the future? Precisely to that regime they so praised.

[1] Mrs. Laura Boldrini is an Italian feminist and gender activist, former President of the Low Chamber in Italian parliament. For example, she agrees with “Parent 1” “Parent 2” instead of “Father” “Mother” and so on.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Boldrini

[Translator’s note: Matteo Fais is the back once again and he will be, until silenced by some “committee”. Italy is living its own dystopic future and Italian people, tired and suffering by the pandemic and the economic crisis, struggle to realize it]


Original column by Matteo Fais:


Translation by Costantino Ceoldo