Learn anything from 1984?I think it was my junior year high school English teacher who pointed this out to me (and the rest of her class).
Now, whether Orwell was "right" or "wrong" is the wrong question. Whether our society is becoming "more" or "less" Orwellian is a red herring.
There is a part of our world which functions like this. It has always been this way, since Adam and Eve in the Garden, since Cain, since the Pharaohs, all the way down to the present. (Consider the nomer, "the father of lies".)
Now the lesson which we need to learn is that the Orwellian world mimics the real part of our world.
But we need to be careful how we understand this lesson, or we end up thinking the universe is out to get us.
Or we end up thinking that it's all right to lie, or that there is an establishment that preaches that it is all right to lie for some "greater good". (There are many such establishments, but that is also a red herring.)
The surrealism of youth is not evil. But we do leave it behind.
(There is no choice, even if we try to hang on to the glories of the past, time drags us with it.)
The conclusion of the novel does condemn those who use the instability of "facts" as an excuse to use factoids and factisms to their own gain. (To clarify, it is not the facts that change, it is our understanding of them.
Skipping a lot of literary analysis, pretty much, we will each one of us find ourselves having to face our own worst fears sometime in life. At least once, maybe more than once. (See Abraham, for instance.)
There is a reason that the world is surreal when we are young. Our lack of experience gives an edge to all our senses. But that edge is false.
No, it is not really false. It is just not perfectly true.
When we are young, the best understanding we can have is always going to more or less miss the true mark of reality. We do not have the experience to interpret our experiences properly.
This is a reverse vicious cycle, because we cannot understand without experience, and the only way to gain understanding is to get some experience, and, with the experience of things that are new to us, there must be some incompleteness in our understanding. Therefore, we shall make mistakes.
Which requires more experience, and more incomplete understanding, if we really want to understand things properly, a serious conundrum, but not evil. Incomplete understanding can lead us to complete understanding, if we will let it.
The mistakes leave us open to being judged by the society around us, both the outer societies and the hidden societies.
Because of the judgments of the hidden societies, we will be put on trial. We will be tested, whether we will be true to ourselves or not. And we will find that the real test is not in the events of the trial, but in what we do afterwards.
Winston and Julia find that their affair was an illusion. Of course it was. They also, in the immediate aftermath, find themselves thinking that they have betrayed each other. This is not unusual. When we betray ourselves, we necessarily betray those around us.
Self-betrayal is a common tool of terror politics and tyranny. Reinforcing the impression of self-betrayal by making the betrayal of others explicit is another tool of totalitarian society, as is pretense of rescue.
I would have preferred a preferred a stronger affirmation of the value of reality over surreality in the plot, but it would have been out of character for both Winston and Julia, also for Orwell, himself. It would also have made the novel less accessible, as literature.
But we see in the end that both Winston and Julia have grown up a little. They both understand that life is inherently insecure. And the novel leaves them contemplating whether to give in to the illusion of security provided by the self-deluded Big Brother organization, or to take the next step to real freedom.
They could consider continuing in clandestine activities precisely because they know that everything will be taken away, sooner or later.
Freedom is just another word for being able to behave as if one has nothing (left) to lose.
Real security is in having nothing to lose.
(From here, I'll have to sometime bridge from one linguistic context to another and pick up information systems security, but that will be in a different blog.)