Dickens and totalitarianism
The best book ever written about totalitarianism isn’t actually 1984. It’s A Tale of Two Cities. And in that book, the most commonly repeated image, the central symbol, is of a giant eye. What Charles Dickens understood, and what the book argues, is that there is no such thing as freedom without privacy, that being truly free means being free to do things that you don’t want other people to know about. And what I insist is that all the people who are busily denying that these revelations really mean anything recognize: if we give up these rights, we are choosing to do it. Every aspect of this is a product of human choice. We might be trapped in systems. But those systems are made up of human beings, and they are choosing to erode our basic freedom. Nothing can be chalked up to slogans or “the arc of history” or technology or Just the Way Things Are Going to Be. If our rights are getting eroded, it’s because we’re choosing to let them. Tell that to the defeatists and the apathetic alike.