The year 1984 was three and a half decades in the future When George Orwell published his famous dystopian novel. When 1984 arrived, I was a brand new father and recently unemployed—an early victim of Ronald Regan’s “trickle-down” economics. George Orwell and Ronald Regan both understood that the critical feature of social engineering was language. The story is everything.
Orwell’s “Newspeak” was a way of reframing the storyline to fit reality. If the story tells you that peace is a valued “good” but you have a culture that requires perpetual war in order to function, the simplest thing to do is redefine your terms: war is really peace, and since peace is good, all is right with the world despite perpetual war—simple transitive logic.
The idea of trickle-down economics works similarly by redefining exploitation: corporate-capitalist culture requires the maintenance of a sharp disparity in wealth in which the poor are given just enough to keep them productive—and the more productive they are, the more money they make for the wealthy, who are then motivated to continue to keep the poor productive by sharing a microscopic portion of their wealth.
The denizens of 21st century global civilization are far too intelligent to fall prey to Newspeak, of course. We know the difference between black and white. We understand that war is war and peace is peace, and most of us (with the notable exception of a few toothless tea-bagging morons from Alabama) know when we are being jerked around by corporate-political double-speak.
We would never fall prey to the thinly veiled propaganda of corporate marketing, for example. We are far too sophisticated to think that true happiness is somehow tied to smartphone functionality or that the hive-mind banter on twitter is about building community.
We realize that bowing to economic coercion is not really the path to personal freedom. We understand that ubiquitous surveillance is not really for our own safety and convenience.
We know that siphoning the bitumen dregs out of tar sand is not really the key to energy independence and we would never think to call fracking an environmentally-friendly alternative: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/08/shale-gas-fracking-good-for-environment