Curfew and mass surveillance… What George Orwell did not foresee

After the announcement of a curfew in several French cities, several political figures have once again summoned the novel “ 1984 » by the British writer. Sometimes with error.

It is an understatement to say that Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the president of the Debout la France party, did not appreciate the new state measures, announced by Emmanuel Macron, THURSDAY 14 october, to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including the establishment, in several large cities and in Ile-de-France, from a curfew to 21 hours. To signal his disagreement with these measures which he considers repressive, M. Dupont-Aignan used a safe cultural reference : " "Out of the work, everything will be prohibited… Walking in the streets, to distract oneself, chanter, to dance…", George Orwell, 1984 », he posted, the 15 october, on Twitter (a message since deleted).

George Orwell (1903-1950) never wrote this sentence. The quote, which has been running for years on the Internet in discussion spaces, cannot be taken from the novel 1984. Supreme irony : in this 20th century classice century, which describes a Western world delivered to a totalitarian dictatorship inspired by Stalinism and Nazism, his hero, Winston Smith, works in the ministry responsible for… rewriting history to make it conform to the vision of the « Party ».

An author regularly summoned

We would be curious to know what Orwell might have thought of a politician broadcasting, more than seventy years after the release of his book, untruths or false quotes on his personal publication spaces, but instantly readable by everyone. Or the distortion of its intentions and its analyzes in the media or public discourse of democratic societies.

Since the start of the pandemic, and even more so with confinement, mi-mars, Orwell was regularly summoned to denounce a “health dictatorship” or more generally a totalitarian drift of Emmanuel Macron. The entrance, the 8 october, of his best-known novel in the prestigious catalog of La Pléiade only strengthened interest in a regularly rediscovered author, in the whole world, when the news is particularly dark.

After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, 1984 is silent ranked among Amazon's best sellers in the United States, alongside other dystopias like This can't happen here, de Sinclair Lewis, which recounted America's fall into fascism. In France, Google searches for the novel have increased significantly in mid-March, then in mid-April, during the implementation of the strictest containment measures.


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