The Internet Meme – Heteronomous Low Culture

In his 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell introduced readers to the nightmare of a truly totalitarian state. In my view, the most interesting aspect of the novel is how the people of Airstrip One are kept subservient. Unlike the despotisms of old, where the simple brute force of the state would hold down the serfs, Orwell’s dystopia chose mass propaganda and culture creation to maintain order. Orwell understood that to maintain control in an industrial state where the masses had grown so much and the elite so little, absolute force would be of secondary importance to enforcing mental slavery.

In the novel, Orwell describes many different state departments that deal with the various aspects of order maintenance.  Of particular interest is Prolesec – the department committed to creating numerous kinds of practically worthless articles of entertainment in an attempt to soothe and pacify the numerous members of the…

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