Orwell – A Celebration: 1984, Thoughtcrime

  • Jo Glanville (editor of Index on Censorship)
  • Maajid Nawaz (co-director of Quilliam)
  • Hopi Sen (longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Blogs 2009, shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Blogs 2010)
  • Chaired by Patrick Marmion (journalist)

The third of four panel discussions celebrating the 60th anniversary of 1984 and 70th anniversary of Coming Up for Air in conjunction with Orwell: A Celebration.

Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed – would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper – the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

Thoughtcrime – crimethink in Newspeak – is one of the most terrifying of Orwell’s conceits in 1984, where even thinking in opposition to the regime is a treacherous offence. 60 years after the novel was written, and 25 years after the year in which it was set, is thoughtcrime a reality? Are there certain thoughts and beliefs which should be punished? How should society deal with those who thoughts go beyond accepted political and social norms? And what does it feel like to think the unthinkable, controversial and uncomfortable?

  • Hopi Sen: Thoughtcrime

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