The last George Orwell book I read was Animal Farm, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Animal farm was not very distant from this one in concept — though I definitely preferred the former.

It speaks of a time in the future (the book was written in the 40’s) where society is ruled by Big Brother. It’s a bleak story about the erosion of privacy and thought, as well as a life of continuous war.

It’s obvious to me that Orwell’s spent a lot of time thinking about war, and what the ramifications of war are on society as a whole. One quote that really stood out was this one:

It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.

They achieved scarcity by keeping the wheels of war turning, continually feeding it (in favor of feeding their own people to excess):

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 in 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.

If your needs are never fully attained, you won’t be found wandering up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Nice book, though it was overall very bleak — and lacking real innovation over it’s successor, Animal Farm.

Notable quotes

The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.

A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This—although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense—is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: War is Peace.

it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.