I want to write a sequel to Orwell’s 1984. I’m going to call it 2013. Clever, huh? Basically, it’s set in a country where the citizens are under the influence of very subtle and sophisticated mind control techniques that, like a drug, lull them into believing they live in the greatest country in the world, when in fact the government is very evil and corrupt.
I’ve been jotting down some notes about this fictional country. It’s an updated version of Oceania, where the techniques used to control society are much more modern and sophisticated. Here are some thoughts:
- Although the government does not control the media outright, the major media channels—newspapers, magazines, television, radio—are all owned by a small group of companies that tightly monitor content. Despite the appearance of a free flow of information, messages are limited to those that support unfettered capitalism, corporate ideology and the status quo. Alternative views and dissenting voices are marginalized and ridiculed.
- A huge, bloated military establishment is sold to the people as necessary for the country’s defense. It is unpatriotic to criticize the defense industry or its budget. Small-scale wars are fought continuously around the world to justify the trillions of dollars spent on the military.
- Whistleblowers, those who speak out against government and corporate abuses and excesses, are punished.
- Groups opposing the status quo are treated as terrorist organizations.
- The richest 1% of the population, the true elites, control the vast majority of the country’s wealth.
- Elections are tightly controlled so that only candidates who support the status quo and the aims of the capitalist elites are considered serious contenders to be the country’s leader.
- Leaders of the country claim the right to kill suspected enemies anywhere in the world at anytime.
- Intelligence agencies routinely monitor citizens by tapping telephones, intercepting Internet communications and mail, and infiltrating organizations based on nothing more than hunches and guesses. Presumption of innocence no longer exists.
- The government operates behind a thick veil of secrecy, which people are told is necessary for the country’s defense.
So what do you think? Too outlandish? I realize it is a stretch to create a country like this where the citizens would allow such treatment and not rise up in revolt, but stranger things have happened.