6 Must-Read books to understand Censorship and Totalitarianism

Social Media companies have undertaken an unprecedented purge of conservatives and ideological dissidents from their platforms. Here are 6 must-read books to understand what is going on.

138636762_1777179879108441_5057510426153117992_n
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

6- Brave New World – by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley: 9780060850524: Amazon.com: Books

“Brave New World is set in 2540 CE, which the novel identifies as the year AF 632. AF stands for “after Ford,” as Henry Ford’s assembly line is revered as god-like; this era began when Ford introduced his Model T. The novel examines a futuristic society, called the World State, that revolves around science and efficiency. In this society, emotions and individuality are conditioned out of children at a young age, and there are no lasting relationships because “every one belongs to every one else” (a common World State dictum).”, From Britannica

“Set far in the future, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a world where “Controllers” have achieved what they believe to be the ideal society. Through scientific and genetic breakthroughs the human race has been brought to perfection: humans have pre-assigned roles in society, and everyone happily fulfills their purpose. Bernard Marx, however, is different. He is disgusted by the predestined behaviour of his peers and has a strong desire to break free from social pressures, leading him to set off on a journey to visit one of the few remaining Savage Reservations—places where the old, flawed, and imperfect life still continues”, from Harpers Collins

Quote from Brave New World:

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

5- Fahrenheit 451 – by Ray Bradbury (1953) 

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury: 9781451673319: Amazon.com: Books

“Fahrenheit 451, dystopian novel, first published in 1953, that is regarded as perhaps the greatest work by American author Ray Bradbury and has been praised for its stance against censorship and its defense of literature as necessary both to the humanity of individuals and to civilization”, from Britannica

“Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known”, from Simon & Schuster 

Quote from Fahrenheit 451:

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

4- The Origins of Totalitarianism – by Hannah Arendt (1951)

The Origins of Totalitarianism: Arendt, Hannah: 9780156701532: Books -  Amazon.ca

“Arendt’s reputation as a major political thinker was established by her Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), which also treated 19th-century anti-Semitism, imperialism, and racism. Arendt viewed the growth of totalitarianism as the outcome of the disintegration of the traditional nation-state. She argued that totalitarian regimes, through their pursuit of raw political power and their neglect of material or utilitarian considerations, had revolutionized the social structure and made contemporary politics nearly impossible to predict”, from Britannica

“The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination”, from HMH Books

Quotes from The Origins of Totalitarianism:

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)

“[…] In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)

3- Animal Farm – by George Orwell (1945)

Animal Farm: Orwell, George: 8601417743553: Books - Amazon.ca

“Animal Farm, anti-utopian satire by George Orwell, published in 1945. One of Orwell’s finest works, it is a political fable based on the events of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution and the betrayal of the cause by Joseph Stalin. The book concerns a group of barnyard animals who overthrow and chase off their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals’ intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the revolution. Concluding that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (with its addendum to the animals’ seventh commandment: “All animals are equal”), the pigs form a dictatorship even more oppressive and heartless than that of their former human masters”, from Britannica

“Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges. . .

Animal Farm – the history of a revolution that went wrong – is George Orwell’s brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power”, from Penguin Random House publishing

Quote from Animal Farm:

“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

2- The Gulag Archipelago – by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973-75)

The Gulag Archipelago: Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr: 9781843430858: Amazon.com:  Books

The Gulag Archipelago, history and memoir of life in the Soviet Union’s prison camp system by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in Paris as Arkhipelag GULag in three volumes (1973–75). The word Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of labour camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending “from the Bering Strait almost to the Bosporus.”

The Gulag Archipelago is an exhaustive and compelling account based on Solzhenitsyn’s own eight years in Soviet prison camps, on other prisoners’ stories committed to his photographic memory while in detention, and on letters and historical sources. The work represents the author’s attempt to compile a literary and historical record of the Soviet regime’s comprehensive but deeply irrational use of terror against its own population. A testimonial to Stalinist atrocities, The Gulag Archipelago devastated readers outside the Soviet Union with its descriptions of the brutality of the Soviet regime. The book gave new impetus to critics of the Soviet system and caused many sympathizers to question their position”, from Britannica

“A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday heroism, The Gulag Archipelago is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s grand masterwork. Based on the testimony of some 200 survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn’s own eleven years in labour camps and exile, it chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair”, from Penguin Books.

Quote from The Gulag Archipelago:

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 

1- 1984 – by George Orwell (1949)

Nineteen Eighty Four (Version may vary): Amazon.ca: Orwell, George: Books

“The book is set in 1984 in Oceania, one of three perpetually warring totalitarian states (the other two are Eurasia and Eastasia). Oceania is governed by the all-controlling Party, which has brainwashed the population into unthinking obedience to its leader, Big Brother. The Party has created a propagandistic language known as Newspeak, which is designed to limit free thought and promote the Party’s doctrines. Its words include doublethink (belief in contradictory ideas simultaneously), which is reflected in the Party’s slogans: “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.” The Party maintains control through the Thought Police and continual surveillance”, from Britannica

“Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .

1984 is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime”, from Penguin Books

Quotes from 1984: 

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

George Orwell, 1984

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

George Orwell, 1984

Support Quality Journalism.

Independent journalism is important now more than ever. The role of journalists in our society is one of watchdogs. One cannot be a watchdog when they are on the government’s payroll. 

Make a donation today and support quality,  independent journalism. 

Share this story:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email