1984 ///

George Orwell’s 1984 is, hands-down, my favourite book. Each time I read it, I find something new that I hadn’t noticed before. It feels as relevant today as it most likely did when first written in 1948, and I’m sure people will be saying the same thing fifty years from now. The thing I love the most about the book is that Orwell was able to capture all of the gears that start grinding away whenever a large enough group of people tries to live together — complex forces and motivations that become much clearer when set in a fictitious time and place. Kind of like a cautionary fable.

That was very true, he thought. There was a direct intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force?

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed.

Bonus points for the beautiful cover art by Shepard Fairey in a recent Penguin reprint of 1984 and Animal Farm.