The future? “A boot stamping on a human face- for ever”


It was a cold day in November, and the clocks were striking eight; Donald Trump was announced as the leader of the free world.

For many of us, it felt surreal. The world around us had changed so suddenly and so massively. We felt as though we were the only sane ones alive, protagonists of a twisted and sickening narrative. We are all the Winston Smiths of this world.

Some might argue that the comparison is a little tenuous; yet, undoubtedly, we have a cult of the personality in the “land of the free”. The comparison prior to his nomination as president-elect is frightening as the evidence demonstrating his demagogic status mounts.

Let me give you an example. One of Trump’s major pledges in his campaign was the need for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. It caused uproar and jubilation and was made the tenet of his campaign for the people. Yet, days after the election, it disappeared from his website. His contained rhetoric and changes in attitude towards Obamacare have been applauded. Have people just forgotten?

It is life imitating art.

I say this because in 1984, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth, altering stories to fit the narrative of The Party. The process and logic is the exact same – information is altered, individuals disappear and the people willingly follow the party line. Has there been any uproar about the removal of this pledge?

One of the principles of The Party in 1984, as stated by O’Brien is “The command of the old despotisms was “Thou shalt not”. The command of the totalitarians was “Thou shalt”. Our command is “Thou art”. Donald Trump is not a totalitarian; his narcissism transcends politics.

Politics is no longer politics; Trump’s supporters inhabit what is needed of them to fuel the personality.

People look through the disappearance of this pledge and inhabit what is needed in this cult of personality. It is no longer about beliefs in the American system and indeed globally; it is about how we serve the personality.

Trump’s funding by Russian oligarchs will have undoubted geopolitical repercussions. In the novel, Winston muses over the way in which the enemies of The Party change over the years, yet this remains almost unnoticed by the people; when a trade war erupts with China and there is a thaw in relations with Russia, will people question this or celebrate the gloriousness of President Trump?

I apologise for not offering anything more optimistic yet I am not optimistic; “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” In this surrealist post-truth age, we no longer serve ideologies, morals or values; we serve the principles of people.

If you have not read the book, then do; but not only for the reason that it is the most compelling novel of our time. But for the reason that it is frighteningly real right now.

Photograph by Thomas Hawk via flickr and creative commons

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