George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 has surged to the top of Amazon's bestseller list in the U.S., beginning over the presidential inauguration weekend. Sales saw an even more noticeable uptick after President Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway used the term "alternative facts" while defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's false assertion that Trump had the "largest audience ever to witness an inauguration."
Published in June of 1949, Orwell's 1984 was an anti-Communist novel written in reaction to English liberals who unthinkingly accepted Stalin's Russia and refused to see it as a tyrannical, oppressive totalitarian regime. 1984 is considered one of the most persuasive pieces of literature that illustrates the pervasive control a small group of power-hungry leaders can have over its citizens when they become lazy and apathetic to critical thinking.
Orwell's ideas of: "Big Brother" (a figurehead with total power over its people); "Newspeak" (a language created by the government to limit thought and expression and subdue the desire for personal freedom); and "doublethink" (accepting two contradictory ideas as true) are hallmarks of his most famous work. Some readers argue that these concepts are proving all too real and prescient, referring to the proliferation of CCTVs, the invasive monitoring of our daily habits through our computers and smartphones, the subjugation of political correctness, and the militarization of the police. Just like in Orwell's book, governments today continue to engage in proxy wars and conflicts, while society numbs itself with feel-good distractions like drugs, sports, and pornography.
Regardless of whether you believe the oppressive world of 1984 is creeping its way back in to today's politics, the novel's almost ten thousand percent increase in sales suggests there are those who are drawing parallels to these turbulent times. 1984's resurgence hopefully offers the silver lining that not everyone is numb to the dangers of the potential abuse of power at the hands of a few.