Speaker Roy Tate on George Orwell

Wed, Jul 19th 2023 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Speaker Finder Roy Tate gave us a background on Orwell and how his prophecies seem to be coming true. Visitors Host, Grace & Banners Alan Arthur, Cash Desk & Sergeant at Arms Mike Clewes

George Orwell was born 120 years ago in June 1903 in Bengal India. His father ran a British Government office in India which was responsible for obtaining opium for China to keep the Chinese repressed. His background was a rich one in that his great, great grandad had 3 plantations in Jamaica where he had many slaves. But by the time of his birth the family were best described as impoverished – he himself described it as landless gentry.

In 1922 he joined the Indian police and went to Indian Burma where his maternal grandfather had been an unsuccessful teak merchant. He realised that the Burmese objected to being ruled by the British and in 1927 he decided to return to England where he had been educated initially at a south coast preparatory school and later at Wellington and Eton. It was after his return that he wrote the book Burmese Days in 1934.

Because he was ashamed of his life as an Imperialist in both India and Burma he decided to become a down and out living in both the East End of London and the slums of Paris. These experiences gave him the background to write Down And Out In Paris And London. He declared himself a socialist and wrote his political treatise The Road To Wigan Pier.

At the start of the Spanish Civil War he went there as a journalist but quickly decided to join in on the side of the Republicans. He was wounded during the fighting and later had to flee fearing for his life after fighting against the communists.

During World War II he was  working for BBC and wrote essays and later became the literary editor for the Tribune. One of his later essays was The Moon Under Water.

After the war he wrote Animal Farm his seminal work criticising communism. This was the first novel to make him famous and wealthy.

After worrying about the twin dangers of Fascism and Communism he decided to write his famous book 1984. This futuristic book brought in many new ideas such as Big Brother, Newspeak and Doublethink. He also envisaged Room 101 where Winston Smith is put and has to face his worst fears. In the 1940s television was just coming in and he wrote that it was watching you. Basically this was forecasting how the government would watch all it’s citizens through means of technology which we now have with CCTV.

Roy then led a discussion on how technology is tracking us all the time through CCTV, facial recognition, mobile phones and all the information that is gathered when we use the internet or our credit cards. He gave an example of how he bought 3 bottles of wine at a supermarket but when he got home he realised that he had been charged for 4 bottles. He went back and they agreed from their CCTV that he'd only had three.

He said that it is quite frightening that there are at least 5.2 million public cameras in the UK plus all the private ones in supermarkets, on houses, in doorbells and dashcams. In the UK we have. 1 percent of the world population but 20% of the world’s cameras. The Chinese have 50 percent.

In summary he thought that Orwell’s concept of Big Brother was now common place. It is frightening how we are now being forced into how we should think and speak. The woke rules are allowing banks to close accounts because of how you think and now how we think can become a crime. As such he concluded we were now living in an Orwellian world.

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