1984 presents a vivid, scary, dystopian view of the present.The Party sees, hears and knows everything people do through a system of screens, cameras and paid informers. People willingly submit to this invasion of privacy because of Project Fear:
the country is at war
the collapse of civilisation is imminent
'There is no alternative'
Michael Billington's review
The illusion is maintained through constant repetition and sinks into the world view of everyone. Though I found the play melodramatic and the scenes of torture unbearable, it did make me think about the narrative that national governments like to foster.
There is the narrative of Great Britain: the 'golden years' of a benevolent empire founded on profits from slavery and naval aggression. A transient lead in technology has endowed Brits with the illusion of supremacy, hints of which were heard in the run-up to the Brexit vote.
It's convenient to forget that Britain is sinking into a morass of corruption and inequality; taking its place as a small nation on the edge of Europe.
In a way, our present state resembles the book group who debate Winston Smith's diary: the myths and illusions of our present day Zeitgeist are invisible to us because we all want to believe a cosy narrative.
The British Empire gave a lift-up to nations that hadn't experienced bureaucracy or prejudice on the grounds of sexual orientation. Missionaries civilised primitive peoples and their illegitimate children, rebellions, torture and starvation are not a part of this story.