Just ahead of Episode Eight of our current Tale for Our Time, a word from your humble host:
As I was saying months ago, in the event of a Biden victory things are going to get real bad real fast on the free-speech front. As it turned out, they did not wait for January 20th - the date of full merger between the Big State and Big Tech - but have been accelerating very fast through this Mostly Peaceful Transfer of Power. I would like to think we'll still be here in a year's time, but Parler's been dead for a week and its CEO and his family are now in hiding, so who knows where we're headed?
In such circumstances, I thank all of you who keep this l'il ol' website and its various activities part of your daily rounds. Ray Lawrence, a brand new Mark Steyn Club member from Illinois, writes:
Your masterful rendition of Nineteen Eighty-Four exceeds my high expectations. I finally enlisted in The Mark Steyn Club cause upon learning that Nineteen Eighty-Four was to be your Tales feature, and I'm glad I did.
Summer before last, before the schools closed, my granddaughter attended a local college's supplemental summer program for talented grade-schoolers. One of her sessions was titled 'Dystopian novels,' and they were invited to read Nineteen Eighty-Four. We've been reading and talking about it ever since. Now I'm looking forward to listening to it again and introducing her to you.
I was born in 1948. Nineteen Eighty-Four is as old as I am! Of course I read it in high school, but it seemed too science-fictiony to take seriously. The moral point of the story seemed so far-fetched, then. Surely, it could never be like that here; this is the 'land of the free.'
But now? When grandchildren are in the equation? The story no longer seems like fiction of any kind, and I'm too old to do much about about it, except perhaps introduce them to you. Your timing is perfect!
Thank you, Ray. It was easy to find it, as you say, "far-fetched" until fairly recently. And then, little more than a decade ago, Apple et al invented a portable telescreen, and discovered that the citizenry were more than happy to volunteer for 24/7 surveillance if in return they could get a slightly faster Justin Bieber download and the right to yell 140 characters' worth of obscenities at minor celebrities. That right there is the art of the deal.
In today's episode of George Orwell's too timely tale, Winston Smith wonders what it will take to make the masses - the "proles" - rise up:
If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflexion of the voice, at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it? And yet----!
He remembered how once he had been walking down a crowded street when a tremendous shout of hundreds of voices women's voices--had burst from a side-street a little way ahead. It was a great formidable cry of anger and despair, a deep, loud 'Oh-o-o-o-oh!' that went humming on like the reverberation of a bell. His heart had leapt. It's started! he had thought... The proles are breaking loose at last!
Ah, but no; it is only a mob of shoppers desperate to get hold of a market stall's last few saucepans:
Winston watched them disgustedly. And yet, just for a moment, what almost frightening power had sounded in that cry from only a few hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout like that about anything that mattered?
Earlier instalments of Nineteen Eighty-Four can be found here - and thank you again for all your comments, thumbs up or down, on this latest serialization. Very much appreciated. If you'd like to know more about The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
I'll see you back here tomorrow for Part Nine of Nineteen Eighty-Four - and throughout the coming week for more audio delights.