1984: Orwell’s Dystopia has Arrived

For those that haven’t read this book in a while, here is a portion of the plot synopsis from Wikipedia. I have added emphasis to a portion; you will learn why in a moment.

The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party, who works for the Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue in Newspeak), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to rewrite past newspaper articles, so that the historical record always supports the party line. The instructions that the workers receive specify the corrections as fixing misquotations and never as what they really are: forgeries and falsifications. A large part of the ministry also actively destroys all documents that have been edited and do not contain the revisions; in this way, no proof exists that the government is lying.
Wikipedia 1984

In his novel 1984, Orwell envisioned that it would be an all present and all powerful government that would be running the Ministry of Truth ; however; in modern America, we prefer to let large corporations do the unpleasant lifting for government. This allows something Orwell overlooked in his dystopian world, plausible deniability.

Plausible deniability is the ability for persons to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions.”
Link: Definition of Plausible Deniability

The irony that this particular book—1984—is the victim of document destruction is all the more poignant.

The perpetrator of this action happens to be Amazon.com

Amazon Secretly Removes “1984” From the Kindle
Thousands of people last week discovered that Amazon had quietly removed electronic copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from their Kindle e-book readers. In the process, Amazon revealed how easy censorship will be in the Kindle age.

In this case, the mass e-book removals were motivated by copyright . A company called MobileReference, who did not own the copyrights to the books 1984 and Animal Farm, uploaded both books to the Kindle store and started selling them. When the rights owner heard about this, they contacted Amazon and asked that the e-books be removed. And Amazon decided to erase them not just from the store, but from all the Kindles where they’d been downloaded. Amazon operators used the Kindle wireless network, called WhisperNet, to quietly delete the books from people’s devices and refund them the money they’d paid.

An uproar followed, with outraged customers pointing out the irony that Amazon was deleting copies of a novel about a fascist media state that constantly alters history by changing digital records of what has happened. Amazon’s action flies in the face of what people expect when they purchase a book. Under the “right of first sale” in the U.S., people can do whatever they like with a book after purchasing it, including giving it to a friend or reselling it. There is no option for a bookseller to take that book back once it’s sold.
Joe Miller: Amazon Secretly Removes 1984

Gizmodo’s original story can be found here

This action by Amazon, which has happened before as the article in Gizmodo points out, is one of the reasons that I don’t purchase eBooks. It is also a reason I have grown adverse to buying downloadable music if I can get a physical CD instead.

The fine print in the Licensing Agreements is that you don’t really own the eCopy, the seller does. You just paid for permission to use it. Furthermore, after you give them money, they have the right to unilaterally change to the Terms of Use Agreement.

Ultimately, this is also true of your Windows or Apple Operating System. In fact, most of this stuff actually has an expiration date buried in the software —although it us usually two or three decades in the future.

This is what I dislike about anything proprietary. With the flick of a switch, someone can delete your entire library of eBooks, adobe PDF docs or anything else. Worse yet, they can secretly edit these same works and you would never know. As in 1984, there is no paper trail to follow because there is no paper.

Also, storing things on other people’s servers is problematic. It is common knowledge that Google reads everything you send or receive via Gmail or store on their servers.

Even without this ability, look what things have been purged from our culture.

I dare you to find a copy of Disney’s Song of the South. The plot is black folks on a plantation help to keep a white family together. Yeah, the blacks are the heroes in the movie but Disney has buried it.

Leslie Neilson did a live action Mr. Magoo movie in 1997 but again you can hardly find it.

If things run afoul of Political Correctness they get purged from popular culture.

Any references to Indians or Christians in our country are experiencing the same purge: Braves, Redskins, Warriors, Crusaders, etc. How did Star n’ Bars become a symbol of racism?

If you recall, following 9/11, Hollywood briefly wanted to digitally remove the Twin Towers from movies previously filmed in New York. Yeah, really! They wanted to purge any images that the Towers ever existed instead of getting mad at the folks that blew them up. As far as I know, the only Hollywood movie to purposely delete the Twin Towers was the first Spiderman movie. If you can find the first theatrical preview for the movie, it had a helicopter suspended between the Towers in a large web. Based on the preview, the men in it had just committed a bank robbery. Also, the final battle at the end of the movie was scrapped and re-shot because it had footage of the Towers.

In the computer age, with the flick of a switch, Amazon can delete a book from your library or update it to remove offensive content. Apple can drop music from your iTunes library; Netflix can edit offensive religious material from a movie. Need I go on?

Then there is social media. Express support for traditional marriage or call homosexuality a sin and you might have your account banned from Facebook. (I Know people this has happen too.)

Support traditional family values and the day is near when you will be denied government employment and student loans.

Doubt global warming and some politicians in California want you to be subject to criminal sanctions. (Yes this is a real bill in the state legislature.)

The brave new world is here. Failure of citizens to conform in thought and deed is slowly being criminalized. Freedom, Truth, Patriotism, and Faith are the enemies of the Liberal State.