Which Country Has Most Closely Matched the Dystopian Future of George Orwell’s 1984?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the command of Korean People’s Army Unit 534.

Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Todd Gardiner:

North Korea is a great example:

  • Perpetual state of war (perpetuated solely to constrain society)
  • Charismatic great leader (who has created a false cult of personality)
  • Media blackout and nonstop propaganda
  • Voicing any criticism of the government is a “thought crime.”
  • The ministries may lack the names of 1984 (e.g., Ministry of Plenty), but the results are the same: war, propaganda, torture, starvation.
  • Members of the “Inner Party” have a very high standard of living.
  • A large proletariat class who are more politically free than the middle class but brutally oppressed economically

What is missing?

Universal surveillance. The technology and infrastructure to do this are lacking in North Korea, as are the funds to install it.

Three superstates of near-identical ideologies—although propaganda would conceal similarities—that can never defeat one another.

Newspeak or the creation of language-based societal limits.

But those last three are (in order) increasingly difficult to actually employ. Language, especially, is known to be impossible to control. (France has been trying this for centuries.)

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