To kick things off, I was thinking...
1984 (George Orwell)
Since this has been brought up in the news a little lately, and John Hurt (played Winston in the 1984 version of 1984) recently passed away. Plus, I figure many other folks have read it, even if it might've been a long time ago.
A few requests before we begin though:
- Please let's avoid discussions of the type "man this [current thing happening] is just like in 1984 when they...". Not because the analogies aren't useful, but because that's been done so much since 1949 that it's become cliché now. (And there are more recent political theorists besides Orwell that can provide better explanation anyhow.)
- This isn't a test, so don't worry about getting some of the details wrong, or having the "wrong" interpretation. ...it is ok to disagree with someone else's interpretation of events though.
- No spoilers needed for 1984. Seriously, this came out 67 years ago. That ship sailed.
(1) The World Order
In the middle there's this entire explanation (in a book left for Winston by O'Brien) that describes how the world is organized into competing superpowers (Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia) all fighting one another over control of resources in another region of the world (the Equatorial Front). If you don't recall, this video goes into some detail on that:
Yeah, so, on the surface this is supposed to be an illustration for how easily the Party can switch off between getting people to one week hate Eurasia (as we were always at war with them and allied with Eastasia) and the next week hate Eastasia (as we were always at war with them and allied with Eurasia). That's what I figured when I read it back in high school, and that's the view the above video takes.
Buuuut..... more recently, my theory is that the above is completely bunk. For starters, O'Brien is one of the top elite and was intentionally setting Winston up (SPOILERS!). For another, there's no reason ever given why Oceania (and for that matter Eurasia and Eastasia) constantly switch allegiances, nor a reason to believe that they're fine with it. The more plausible explanation is that this was a deeper lie that O'Brien left behind for Winston to let him think that he stumbled upon some deeper secret or explanation; but it's just as much a lie as the one they tell the proles regarding who they're at war with this week. The only difference is that the level of sophistication in the lie is higher since it's designed for the party elite, rather than the proles.
To go beyond that, I think that the entire world outside of England / Airstrip One is likely just fine -- there is no Oceania, Eurasia, or Eastasia, no war, no global alliances, and no global war. It's only Airstrip One that believes the world is the way it is, because of how insular and closed off they are from the rest of the world (much like North Korean propaganda holding that they're the most advanced country on Earth). After all, why actually go into a world war when you can just tell everyone you're at war, when the purpose of the war is to control your own populace and not to do anything like gain territory or resources?
(2) The Language
Hm... I think I'll get into this one another day when it's not 1 in the morning.
...also I'd be curious if anyone else is up for this kind of discussion before going too far into it. KF