Listened Prescient Predictions: 1984; Brave New World; and Network from Radio National

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to todayโ€™s politico-cultural environment?

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to todayโ€™s politico-cultural environment? Broadcaster Scott Stephens believes Aldous Huxleyโ€™s Brave New World is a closer match.

Also, author and New York Times journalist David Itzoff talks us through another prescient piece of fiction, Paddy Chayefskyโ€™s 1976 original screenplay Network.

Antony Funnell leads a discussion into three dystopian predictions. The argument made is that although 1984 captures the challenges to truth and the surveillance state, The Brace New World captures the attention economy.
Bookmarked I live-tweeted the raids on the ABC โ€” and it was a first for the AFP (ABC News)

John Lyons spent nine hours in a room with six AFP officers โ€” who were unfailingly polite and respectful โ€” but who were doing something he believed attacked the very essence of journalism.

John Lyons reports on his use of Twitter to broadcast the AFP’s raid on ABC. He explains that each day journalists receive tips, often anonymous. The choice to publish the two pieces which instigated the raid did not put anybody in danger. The raid signifies a particular challenge on journalism and truth.

In almost 40 years in journalism โ€” and having myself been on an AFP warrant after I received and wrote stories based on leaked defence intelligence documents โ€” I had never seen a warrant this all-encompassing.

The power to delete official documents reminded me of George Orwell’s book 1984.

Remember Winston Smith, who worked in the records department of the Ministry of Truth?

Part of his job was to delete documents or newspaper reports of wars which his government wanted to pretend never happened.

But this was Australia in 2019 โ€” not George Orwell’s Oceania in 1984.

As Cory Doctorow argues in a separate piece:

The Australian authorities insist that the raids were not coordinated and that it’s all a coincidence. As Caitlin Johnson points out, that’s a hell of a coincidence, and if it’s true, it’s even scarier than the idea that the raids were coordinated — instead, it means that Australia’s cops and prosecutors have gotten the message that it’s open season on public interest journalism and are acting accordingly, with lots more to come.

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh argues that the raids are a threat to democracy:

One of the most disturbing outcomes is not prosecutions or even the raids themselves, but the chilling of public interest journalism. Sources are less likely to come forward, facing risk to themselves and a high likelihood of identification by government agencies. And journalists are less likely to run stories, knowing the risks posed to their sources and perhaps even to themselves.

In regards to 1984, Dorian Lynskey argues that we have gone beyond the vision painted by Orwell.

Bookmarked Would an AFL ‘Boo Ban’ stop punters jeering the likes of Gary Ablett and Scott Pendlebury? (ABC News)

The AFL is considering implementing a Boo Ban which, given the game’s recent history, comes across as absurd, writes Richard Hinds.

I find this interesting. Although I do not boo and never have, I think that it is a part of who we are. It reminds me of the Two Minutes of Hate in Orwell’s 1984:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

If it is not sport, then it will be something else. Banning misses the bigger picture in my opinion.