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Literature Essay Sample – 1984

Which nation has most closely matched the dystopian future of George Orwell’s 1984?

Which nation is most similar to the dystopian future described in 1984? I think the low-hanging fruit would be to say North Korea. Instead of taking the low-hanging fruit, I am going to say the United States is most similar to Oceania. Why? Edward Snowden and his revelations about the National Security Agency’s  wiretapping.

First, the NSA’s  wiretapping is similar to that of the Party in 1984: They monitor citizens at all times, noting when they have committed a crime, even if that crime is an infraction, such as a “thought crime.” According to the an article “FBI head: terror fight requires open backdoors to encrypted user data” in The Guardian,

“FBI director James Comey called on tech companies to create backdoor access to their users’ data on Wednesday, arguing it was necessary to tackle everything from terrorism to child kidnapping.”

Second, Edward Snowden’s situation mirrors that of Winston’s in the novel. Both are rebels who are drawn to anti-government activities. Both risk everything fighting against a government they see crossing the line of ethical and appropriate action by interfering in citizens’ private lives. Regarding Edward Snowden’s exposure of U.S. government spying, The Washington Post writes:

“Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations.”

Minus the helicopters sweeping by apartment windows with spotlights to check for “criminal” activity, this does not seem that far of a reach from 1984’s descriptions of the Party’s activities. Unfortunately, in addition to the two described here,  there are many parallels that can be made between the United States and the dystopian world of 1984.

Works Cited

“FBI head: terror fight requires open backdoors to encrypted user data.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 9 December 2015. Web.

“Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 December 2013. Web. 

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