George Orwell’s 1984 imagines a near-future dystopia in which all human activity is surveilled and most of it is controlled. Last week, the American government came under sudden, sustained scrutiny after several of its top-secret surveillance programs were revealed to the public. Today, 1984‘s sales are up 127 percent on Amazon while a two-fer of 1984 and Animal Farm is up 314 percent.
As The Washington Examiner noted, 1984 did mark its 60th anniversary last week, which may have contributed to the sudden spike. But the timing invites a kind of dark speculation: Is this the near-future Orwell feared for us? Do We, America think stockpiling copies of alarmist, not-better-than-Huxley British allegories from the middle of the last century will help us grapple with the questions raised by the government’s assertion that safety trumps privacy — and that our increasingly socio-digital society assumes an abridgment of rights?
And have you heard that Obama is checking your email?
I’ve reached out to Amazon for their theories and will update if they think anything good. Have you been buying up Orwells — and if so, why?