Thomas Pynchon remarks on the significance of George Orwell and 1984, noting that while the novel “has brought aid and comfort to generations of anticommunist ideologues with Pavlovian-response issues of their own, Orwell’s politics were not only of the left, but to the left of left.”
Pynchon takes issue with critics “who make lists of what Orwell did and didn’t ‘get right.'” And, in response to those who believe Orwell’s portrayal of “doublethink” is perverse or farfetched, Pynchon notes:
in the present-day United States, few have any problem with a war-making apparatus named “the department of defence,” any more than we have saying “department of justice” with a straight face, despite well-documented abuses of human and constitutional rights by its most formidable arm, the FBI. Our nominally free news media are required to present “balanced” coverage, in which every “truth” is immediately neutered by an equal and opposite one. Every day public opinion is the target of rewritten history, official amnesia and outright lying, all of which is benevolently termed “spin,” as if it were no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round. We know better than what they tell us, yet hope otherwise. We believe and doubt at the same time – it seems a condition of political thought in a modern superstate to be permanently of at least two minds on most issues. Needless to say, this is of inestimable use to those in power who wish to remain there, preferably forever.
Despite these grim words, Pynchon observes that Orwell himself was impatient with predictions of the inevitable, that to the end he believed “in the ability of ordinary people to change anything, if they would.”
(Thanks to Max for the link.)