Trump Makes Dystopian 1984 Bestselling Book
Richard M. Hutchings | January 25, 2017
Slate reports Donald Trump’s first days in office has made George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four (aka 1984, published 1949) the bestselling book on Amazon, and Salon says the books publisher has already ordered a new printing. According to the Associated Press,
With “alternate facts” the latest catchphrase, George Orwell’s “1984” is No. 1 on Amazon.com and the publisher has ordered an additional 75,000 copies.
I take a visual approach to answering that question, examining book jacket covers through time. My survey, which utilizes Emily Temple’s 2011 George Orwell’s 1984: A Visual History, reveals three key aspects of Orwell’s future (today’s present):
- Anxiety and Fear (dystopia)
Scroll down to see the examples I have selected of each theme on book covers dating from 1954 to present.
Controlling heritage is a vital function of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, where the slogan is “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
It is this aspect that I think most people are connecting with Trump. From Wikipedia:
The Ministry of Truth is the propaganda ministry. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.
As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures “truth” in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.
However, as with dystopia, Donald Trump did not invent Newspeak; recall, for example, George W. Bush’s persistent problems with “truthiness.” This, I suggest, is more evidence that Trump is being scapegoated by a nation already in crisis. Nevertheless, Trump is, I believe, triggering anomie on a national scale.
2.2 State Control
For more on Trump and Orwell, see: