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White House's 'Alternative facts' boosts sales of Orwell's 1984


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White House's 'Alternative facts' boosts sales of Orwell's 1984

George Orwell’s dystopian, 1949 novel, 1984 has rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list after Donald Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway described apparent lies told by Whitehouse Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “alternative facts”.

1984 is set in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and a language invented by the state to destroy independent thought or ‘thoughtcrime’. Since it was written almost seventy years ago, the novel has been credited with predicting, with uncomfortable accuracy, numerous political mechanisms particularly pertaining to propaganda.

When pressed by NBC’s Chuck Todd to explain why “the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium, for the first time, and utter a falsehood”, Conway said that what the Press Secretary was offering were “alternative facts”.

Todd then had to clarify that “alternative facts are not facts, they are falsehoods”.

The parallel between Conway’s term and what Orwell called ‘newspeak’ and ‘doublethink’ was apparently not lost on viewers and reporters alike.

Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty first made the comparison on CNN’s Reliable Sources prompting a surge in sales of the novel on Amazon. The novel’s publisher is reportedly increasing production to meet demand. On the morning of Wednesday 25th January 1984 was at the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list along with Huxley’s A Brave New World .

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA leak, 1984 also enjoyed a boost in popularity. Political analysts say we have entered the ‘post-truth era’ and it seems that a bewildered public are searching for answers in fiction. Whether Orwellian fictions have predicted elements of our current political reality or whether they have actually inspired policy is hard to say but the boundary between fact and fiction is certainly blurring when it comes to Trump’s administration.

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