How will my grandchildren fare in a “1984” world? (By which I mean anybody’s grandchildren, really.) It’s not going to be easy for them. They’ve grown up in a world where human rights have been held up as a practical ideal, and individual rights have been respected above the collective rights of communities.
Now human and individual rights are fading away – dismissed as a faddish fancy whose time has come and gone. The very nations that rushed to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the aftermath of the Second World War have baulked at submitting themselves to the Nuremberg Principles. Britain is a prize example: signing international human-rights treaties galore, but waging wars of aggression and occupation for commercial gain.
“1984” (the book by Orwell) described what we call a totalitarian society. But “totalitarian” is not absolutely total; there are always loopholes. Despite comprehensive domestic spying programs – even with electronic chips implanted in every limb – there will still be groups of individuals beyond the reach of Big Brother’s servants. The powerless will be of little concern to the ruling classes. Who cares what they think?
During our grand adventure in the ‘60s, and rank amateurs as we were, Linda and I managed to by-pass restrictions of one sort or another in several supposedly totalitarian nations. My blog-post Russian Roulette in January 2012 told of safe-enough exchange-control dodges in the USSR, and Checkpoint Charlie the month before reported our quasi-authorised crossing of the Berlin Wall. Ross did similar things, in his turn. We were all foreigners, but even so…
There usually is a way, for those who fly beneath the radar. So what we have to do, when or before the time comes, is teach our girls how to do it. Their parents were both hippies, to whom it is a natural way to live. Maybe hippies will be the models for everybody, when the time comes.
The society outlined in “1984”comprised a three-tier system of the rulers, their civil-servants, and the proletarians. The servants were monitored closely, but the proles – drugged, peaceful, incorrigible – were largely unwatched. (They didn’t feature in the book’s plot, so readers are left to imagine their worthless lives. I imagine them as living carefree lives beneath the radar as long as they didn’t get ideas above their worthless station. They were also cannon-fodder in the perpetual wars, but I imagine plenty of draft-dodging occurred.)
If for a moment we can pretend that the fictional story is actual history, we can remind ourselves that although history of any kind repeats itself, it never repeats exactly. The Western World’s current rulers may indeed be using the book as a basic “how-to” guide, but they are adding new stuff of their own as they go along. It will be enough for our grandchildren to learn the broad principles, not the details.
The culmination may occur as many as ten years from today. Perpetual war is already in place. The security-state creeps forward with every anti-terrorist drill. The lockdown by 6,000 paramilitary police of a million residents in inner-city Boston following the 2013 explosions was a wake-up call that failed to wake many of us. A collapse of paper currencies following the mother of all false-flag attacks would usher in the real deal – the freezing and confiscation of savings, enforced by martial law.
Hmmm. Maybe. But probably not everywhere. The internet is full of “preppers” – people preparing to flee to isolated communities when the SHTF and when TEOTWAWKI arrives. (If you didn’t know already: those sets of letters stand for “Shit Hits The Fan” and “The End Of The World As We Know It.) I respect their diligent preparations, and they may have identified the best escape route. But I think they’re mistaken.
IMHO (that one you surely must know!) the most effective escape will come from the mind. Being mentally prepared will be a lot more important than being physically prepared. When chased by a bear in the woods, you don’t have to be able to out-run the bear. You just have to be able to run faster than the person you’re with.
I’ve always doubted that the meek would inherit the earth: but the stoners might do, in a SHTF situation.