Reflection: Orwell & the trajectory of “isms”

By Johann Strauss

George Orwell’s writings have experienced a spike in popularity during the past decade and for a simple reason. Modern societies are becoming ever more like the dystopia depicted in Orwell’s most famous book, 1984. Whether it be mass surveillance, the incessant use of propaganda, perpetual wars or the cult of personalities surrounding political leaders, it’s not surprising that many see Orwell’s novel as prescient in many ways. 

Orwell believed that totalitarianism of the type he satirized in his novel was a distinct possibility for the West and at times he went so far as to suggest that it may, in fact, be inevitable. 

Being critical of capitalism, Orwell believed that because of its instability it would eventually die and be replaced by some form of collectivism. The issue is what form of collectivism was envisaged: Would it be democratic socialism or the rise of hedonism in Western societies? 

In an increasing urban and consumeristic West, Orwell believed that many people were structuring their lives in a rather hedonistic manner and this did not bode well for the freedom of Western Civilization. A hedonistic lifestyle, according to Orwell, weakens people. It makes them feeble and incapable of mounting any resistance to fanatical ideologies who desire to rule over society. 

So, has hedonism (one of the “isms” rarely if ever used) become an effective tool to oppress a society because people will willingly forgo freedom in exchange for sensory pleasure and endless consumption? If a society could be structured so that people could devote much of their time  to pursuing pleasures, gratifying material wants and/or even drugging themselves to escape from reality, then persuasion and conditioning, rather than physical coercion, will be sufficient to assert extreme control over a society.

Past and current events suggests this is the case now, so to which “ism” are we then heading to next?

I’m betting on buffoonism, but time will tell.

Johann Strauss lives in the Pocono region of northeast Pennsylvania.

Brigid and Baile

These two female kittens are half of the Celtic Pride that we featured on this post last month. They are now old enough and heavy enough to be spayed and may soon find themselves on the Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab website.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother

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