Predictions about Revolt? #JusJoJan

Just Jot it January badge

I’m participating in Just Jot It January, a fun word prompt exercise organized by blogger Linda G. Hill. It happens all month during January. And it’s not too late to join in the fun. Check the details out here. The word prompt for today is ‘Revolt.’

I was at a loss for today. Then I saw this meme, which I’d seen several times on Facebook and I loved it. It seemed to speak to the current state of our social situations. It’s so frustrating to meet up with friends for an evening out, or meal together, and they spend more times on their phones checking Facebook than visiting with us.


Fortunately I saw the Snopes link on this and went to check it out. It seems that the quote that goes with this photo, and a few other similar ones, cannot be attributed to the original 1984, written in 1949, but to the more recent theatrical adaptation. (It doesn’t really matter – I still don’t want to spend an evening visiting with someone that looks at their screen more than the people around them.)

Here’s what Snopes has to say about it:

What neither of these reviews make clear, and what the many memes get wrong, is that these words weren’t written by George Orwell in 1949, and do not appear in the novel 1984.

Despite a thorough search of the 2016 Enrich Spot e-book edition of 1984, we were unable to find these lines in the original novel. However, they resemble a speech from the book, made by O’Brien, a member of “the Party” who works at the Ministry of Truth:

The proletarians will never revolt, not in a thousand years or a million. They cannot. I do not have to tell you the reason: you know it already. If you have ever cherished any dreams of violent insurrection, you must abandon them. There is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.

At another point in the original novel, the protagonist Winston notes: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

The earliest iteration of the quotation on Twitter dates to July 2014, during the play’s second run at the Playhouse Theatre in London. (It was first staged in 2013). During the same run, a second tweetattributes the lines to the stage adaptation. However, soon afterwards, the quote began to be falsely attributed to the 1949 novel, rather than the 2014 theater adaptation.

The revival of the play in Australia and then New York during the summer of 2017 has led to a resurgence in social media posts and memes falsely attributing the line to George Orwell’s 68-year-old novel.

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January 2018

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