Talking the other day about Orwell’s portrait of the future, I should have mentioned that it’s not only hatred and fear which serve as the twin engines of misrule. It’s also love and worship.
As Orwell’s doomed hero Winston Smith learns to his everlasting degradation, it is so important in the scheme of things to love, worship and adore Big Brother, the all-powerful, all-seeing ruler of Oceania, that those who don’t are not just arrested; they are brainwashed — must be brainwashed — to love him even if they’re to be executed immediately afterward.
Here’s the sad last paragraph of 1984:
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustrache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
If the day ever comes when I’ve learned to love Little Brother I’ll take it as a sign that I, too, have lost my mind. Did you see his press conference this morning? What self-serving baloney!