1984 & Donald Trump: An Analysis of the Apparant Similarities

Two days ago, I came across this news article:

‘1984’ to be screened by cinemas worldwide in anti-Trump protests

This news caught my eye, and I was thrown back into the summers of last year, when I was slowly being absorbed into the Airstrip One and Winston’s vain struggle to break an unbreakable system.

There’s no doubt that Donald Trump is one of the most talked about president of United States of America. Check out this Google search trend comparison between Trump and Obama:

Comparative search density of Donald Trump and Barrack Obama

As you can see, Trump is on a whole new level, and rightly so. His antics are, amusing to say the least, and his constant presence on Twitter helps as well. This popularity, no doubt brings controversies as well. But this particular comparison of Trump with Big Brother is quite striking, at least to me as a bibliophile.

So I thought, why not try and piss off the feds once?

What is going on in the year 1984

A photograph of a page from Orwell's 1984. The quote reads,
Blatantly contradicting statements? Welcome to 1984.

1984 is a novel written by George Orwell in the year 1949, and is about a dystopian society of an alternate version of the year 1984. By dystopian, I mean the type of world where everything at surface seems fine and functional, but in reality is hollow from the inside. The England, I mean Airstrip One, ruled by the enigmatic Big Brother depicted in 1984 is just that. Some of the popular terms this book introduced were thoughtcrime, doublethink & unperson. thoughtcrime refers to the ideas and thoughts which were not in favour of the ruling party. doublesthink is accepting two contradicting ideas simultaneously (comparable to hypocrisy, but not quite so). unperson is complete erasing of any person’s existence who has done any wrong to the state.

The most distinct feature of the book, and most paralleled to Trump however, is the erasure of truths. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, works at the Ministry of Truth as an editor. His work there is to erase and modify everything which does not conform to the ruling party’s ever-changing ideology and facts. The world around Wisnton is completely devastated with continuously waged wars under the pretext of freedom, and the lack and actual acceptance of every kind of repression including lack of basic amenities of food and sex.

How does all of this fit in with the President? In January, Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer stated that the press has been “deliberately false reporting” about Trump’s inauguration ceremony, following up his claim with some statistics about how people have taken Metros to reach the inauguration grounds.

Read the news article here:

The truth about the crowd at Trump’s inauguration in one photo
Later, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide backed Spice by saying that he was just providing “alternative facts”.
Too much fun. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But hey, I’m not a professional reporter, I can have my fun (without any alternative facts) while writing, right?

Things got quite hairy

After the statement about “alternative facts”, the Trump administration was slammed for what appeared to be a blatant disregard for truth. Many people compared this to the totalitarian regime from 1984, where truth was outright erased in favour of “alternative facts”. Funnily, Conway decided to defend her statement, despite all the controversies.

A quote from Orwell's 1984. It reads, "How do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?". Image source: http://www.hypable.com/george-orwell-1984-quotes-facts-reality-trump/
The important question, they have been asked.

All this shenanigans lead to 4th April, when movie theatres of USA decided to screen 1984 to “take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as ‘alternative facts.”

Endthoughts

My head hurts. Ahem.

It has been said that literature is the mirror of society, but in all honesty, we think them to be reflectors of their contemporary societies. I realize that 1984 is over-the-top with its dystopia, and Trump administration is nowhere near the level of dictatorship as Big Brother was. He was elected the 43rd president of USA for crying out loud. Still, I can’t help the echoing of Oshima’s words in my head:

Everything’s a metaphor.

-Haruki Murakami, from Kafka on the Shore

Sometimes, metaphors speak louder than realities, and can be much more accurate.

I’ll end this one with one of my most favourite lines from a song by System of a Down:

I’m just sitting in my car and, waiting for my girl.

Well dayum, this is the second time in a row when I made reference to SoaD.

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Anurag Yadav

Move along now, nothing to see here.