If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever.

When I was younger, I found the world to be a hostile environment. This was in part a result of the Cold War, in part because I was of Polish ancestry (my surname is very distinctly Polish) and experienced the prejudice and discrimination of being 'suspect' (just as Muslims are today).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world climate seemed to change, to improve and become less hostile. There were some growing pains, but they did not seem to be ideologically driven as they were in the past. However, I find today's climate no better, and perhaps worse, than it was when I was growing up. I offer for you this passage from George Orwell's 1984:

Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy -- everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. ... There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always -- do not forget this, Winston -- always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever.'

Image taken from here.


Barbara said…
The sad truth is it depends on who you are and where you are as to how you are treated. Jews in Iran, Muslims in many parts of the US, African Americans in the Deep South, and on and on and on still know the feeling of discrimination. Maybe the boot is not actually on the face, but it is constantly hovering.
b said…
Wow...such a powerful post and quote...it gave me chills. It also reminded me that 1984 is due for a re-read very soon. I so agree with your perception about the way things are now. My thesis examines ideology as both a sociological force (and certainly psychological) and how language is a powerful vehicle for disseminating ideology and gaining consent.

The boot on the face is a powerfully metaphorical image. So many are held down by forces of power and regardless of whether they are fully cognizant of that force or to what degree they are capable of perceiving that force...it exists and it truly does dehumanize and limit potential.

Thanks for yet another wonderful post. It really is important to be reminded of this reality, as even I, with my degree focusing on ideology, lose sight of its true weight upon the world from time to time.
Good thing all of this did not come to pass and we all managed to survive 1984...which seems as long ago already looking back as it was in the future when this was written. Perish the thought that our world would ever become that de-humanized.
Cavalock said…
hey, u just described life in Singapore! haha...it's true, it's true!
ghee said…
a boot stamping on human face...

yes,this is the world we live in,the more we become aware of our surroundings,the more we realize the danger of the powerful people,the discriminations that cannot be healed,the crime and the ugliness of politics..so on and so forth.

sigh...things i can contibute to this world is not letting myself be one of them.
tin-tin said…
sad truth. it's like here in the philippines, we claim that we are a democratic country and a Catholic country at that.. but are we exercising the right freedom? and are we really trying to live as Catholics?
Richard said…
barbara: That is true. I was watching Cecil B DeMille's fantastic The Ten Commandments with my daughter (Age 7) and at night in her prayers she said, "God please don't let me be a Hebrew." I had to explain to her, that while the story revolved about the Jewish captivity by the Egyptians, this was true of many people throughout history and even today.

breal: I ev er actually enjoyed the book, but I do have a good memory for thinks I think are interesting. Ideology is interesting. I strongly urge you to read Richard C. Lewontin's: Biology as Ideology. Ideology is not bad - I certainly am an ideologue, however, the problem comes when we abandon reason for pat answers, when we see ourselves as authorized to enforce our ideology upon others.

MOI: didn't it come to pass? I think it has never left us - human history is filled, past and present, with this type of ideology.

cavalock: this type of society exists everywhere - some subtle, some brutal.

ghee: we must all do our individual parts to ensure we are not directly or indirectly complicit in denying dignity to persons.

tin-tin: I find that people to label themselves and believe that they are right and belong to the truth. People resist being labelled, but they are certainly keen on identifying themselves with something (right or wrong). I am both scared and dismayed by people who say, "My country, right or wrong."

As an individual, it is your responsibility to live according to the truth. Convince people by the example of your life, not by your words or actions.

Not sure if I have ever convinced anyone, but I hope to make people think - which is why my blog is tends to be so dry and deadly serious ;-)

Popular Posts