On this day sixty-two years ago, George Orwell passed away, soon after the publication of his final novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, an ugly glimpse at a dystopian future where the world is run by totalitarian regimes.
At the end of the novel, the torturer O’Brien tells Smith that, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” O’Brien goes on to argue that “the individual is only a cell, Winston, and the weariness of the cell is the vigor of the organism.”
“You’ll fail,” Winston responds. “Something will defeat you. . . . some spirit . . . the spirit of man.”
In Orwell’s book, the spirit of man is defeated, destroyed. Thankfully, in our lives, we can write our own ending.
“The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”
—George Orwell, Letter to Malcolm Muggeridge (4 December 1948), quoted in Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life (1980) by Ian Hunter