Saturday, 6 September 2008

Orwell's 1984: Supposed to be a warning, not a policy document for New Labour

An early 20th century poster for the Conservative party

The Telegraph reports that children as young as eight are being recruited to snoop on their neighbours for councils around the country.

The Telegraph's comment on this made me laugh

It has become a cliché to describe many of the developments in modern Britain as ''Orwellian": the CCTV cameras, the databases, the cloying bureaucracy. Yet the news that children as young as eight are being recruited as local authority snoopers really does come straight from the pages of 1984. In Orwell's dystopian nightmare, the children are encouraged to denounce their parents. When Winston Smith, the book's anti-hero, is being interrogated in prison, his work colleague Parsons is brought in for shouting ''Down with Big Brother".

''Of course I'm guilty!" cried Parsons with a servile glance at the telescreen. ''You don't think the Party would arrest

''Who denounced you?" asked Winston. ''It was my little daughter," said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. ''She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don't bear her any grudge for it. In fact, I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway." Using children to shop adults to local bureaucrats is the hallmark of totalitarian despotisms down the ages. In East Germany - as in 1984 - it was considered a sign of ideological purity rewarded with elevation in the ranks of the party. Here, children are being offered £500. It is grotesque. Orwell's novel was meant to be a warning, not a policy document for a future Labour government.

Heh. Counting the days to a Conservative government...

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