OPINION: 1984's Big Brother Or 2020's Big Tech?
"Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you," - George Orwell, 1984
When George Orwell published his best-selling novel, 1984, no one reading it at the time believed that we would ever see the totalitarian and oppressive government personified as Ingsoc in the novel. While none of the governments of today are at that level just yet, the question is are we seeing the beginnings of a world like in 1984?
To start with, what is the state of the world in 1984? Well, as described by Orwell, all of history until 1949 is the same history as our own. The difference comes into play after that, nuclear war breaks out in 1954, instead of the Cold War happening like in our timeline. Then, after many of the world's democracies form into one country, Oceania, a civil war breaks out between the capitalists and the revolutionaries, or the socialists. The socialists then win that civil war and form Ingsoc, the socialist government of Oceania.
But it's only just begun, the Party, as they call the ruling class, then took all individual freedom from the citizens. They required them to have telescreens, a device like our televisions but they record and monitor everything that can be seen or heard by the camera and microphone in the telescreen. They created the thought police and thoughtcrime which calls for the arrest and re-education of those who speak out or even think against the Party. They took education away from those who not in the Party, known as the Proles so that the younger generations would know no different from the Party's agenda. And they created propaganda such as the iconic, Big Brother is always watching, to instill fear into the people.
Does any of that sound familiar to today? I contend that we certainly are heading in the direction of a world like that in 1984.
To hammer into the topic, an example of this accusation just happened with the live stream the news company, Breitbart News, put onto social media with the group, America's Frontline Doctors (AFD). In the video, the doctors speaking were expressing their opinions on the current treatments we are using for COVID-19, which is their First Amendment right to speak their opinion. Big Tech (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) had that live stream deleted from their platforms then they subsequently silenced those who shared the live stream or copies of the video.
In one such case, Instagram recently ruled that the video of AFD's opinion was removed for harmful false information, as said by Instagram when the online resource, PragerU, put a clip of that live stream on their Instagram page.
PragerU also had their Twitter page locked for a similar posting of the live stream for the same reasoning:
The question that comes to mind then is what was harmful in the speech? The video clip that PragerU posted was of Dr. Stella Immanuel stating her experience in Texas with treating her COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Zinc, and Zithromax. Dr. Immanuel stated that she has treated over 350 high-risk COVID-19 patients with that combination of prescriptions. Nothing in that video clip was harmful.
Another example of this censorship to the extreme was enacted upon President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. when he posted a version of that live stream on Twitter. Twitter then limited Don Jr's Twitter account for twelve hours and deleted his tweet with the video. A spokesperson from Twitter came out to say that Don Jr's tweet:
"was in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy here"
The problem here is that Don Jr. was just sharing the video and saying that it was different from the common narrative, which is not a bad thing. Listening to differences in opinion is how we grow and understand other people. It is good to listen to those who have a different opinions than yourself.
Don Jr. and PragerU have not been the only ones effected by this censorship. Sidney Powell, who's the attorney for Michael Flynn, was also censored, as well as conservative talk show hosts Mark Levin and Joe Pagliarulo.
But, back to 1984, Orwell describes the use of the thought police to control the thoughts of the citizens by arresting them for thoughtcrime, having them tortured until the admission of the thoughtcrime, then re-educated until they believe everything the Party and Big Brother says. Orwell also explains to the reader through the main character, Winston, that the role of the Ministry of Truth is to erase, falsify, or forge any document that goes against the Party.
In a sense, today's leftist "woke" mob is like the thought police and the social media platforms are like the Ministry of Truth. The mob calls out those who express an opinion different from them, typically being conservative, then demands the social media platforms and the place of employment for those individuals shut down and fire them or else those platforms are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. In the case of this live stream, the mob called for this video to be taken down because it promotes HCQ to be used to treat COVID-19 patents.
But why would that be such an issue? Because President Trump promoted the use of HCQ and announced that he used HCQ himself to prevent himself from getting COVID-19. And President Trump could not possibly be right in the eyes of the mob. So the mob wants anyone who promotes HCQ to be shut down and silenced. The mob is, in essence, the Party from 1984, and if you have an opinion against the Party, you will be shut down and silenced.
Then Big Tech comes into play, once they see what the mob is upset about, they bend over backwards to please the mob by limiting and suspending accounts, as well as deleting posts made by those who the mob sees as offensive. Again, in this case, Big Tech stepped in and deleted the posts of the live stream and limited the accounts of some of those who posted about it because the mob claimed the information in the live stream was false. Those doctors still had their First Amendment right to freedom of speech, to express their research and first-hand experience so that people could be informed.
The main issue though is Big Tech is typically censoring more conservatives than they do liberals. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called out Big Tech in this case by sharing a tweet CNN made on July 3rd. The tweet in question was when CNN, a liberal leaning news source, included the following as well as an article promoting the use of HCQ:
Senator Cruz was asking for CNN to be banned like how other conservatives such as Don Jr., PragerU, and many others who have recently been censored, limited or locked for similar posts. But that did not happen and CNN's tweet can still be found.
After the censorship of AFD went virial, AFD put together another speech in front of the Supreme Court building to say the same message they said in the earlier video. AFD also called out Big Tech for the wrongful censorship of their speech. The difference this time this time was that hecklers joined in the background to yell, scream, and interrupt the statement. One man can be heard several times calling the doctors propogandists, traitors, and liars. A picture of him debating with Dr. Immanuel after the statement can be found below:
While we are not as oppressed as the citizens in 1984, we are on track to that oppression if something is not done soon. The main difference is that in 1984, the government controls censorship. In our world, corporations control censorship for now. We must make sure that transition does not happen and we must demand that the social media platforms quit censoring the freedom of speech that we all share. I also suggest that you go and watch the live stream for yourself while you still can here.
Nicholas Farrow is an Opinion Contributor for The National Times