ANALYSIS – Be afraid, Be very afraid. 1984 is almost here. A recent poll by the Libertarian CATO Institute showed that a big chunk of our latest and brightest Generation Z (Gen Z or Zoomers) actually favors having the government watch them 24/7.
Including surveillance in their homes and bedrooms.
Zoomers are officially those under the age of 26. And come right after Millennials.
After the horrors of World War Two showcased the brutal dangers of modern totalitarian dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union, George Orwell penned his classic dystopian tale titled ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (1984).
In the novel, written in 1949, the pervasive government of the fictional nation Oceania was known as ‘Big Brother,’ and it watched its citizens incessantly via two-way video devices called ‘telescreens.’
This was of course before the advent of television or modern surveillance.
Government agents known as the ‘Thought Police’ were able to monitor everyone at home, at work, on public streets, in shops, even in bathrooms. It was a terrifying existence.
The book and term ‘Big Brother’ have since been widely referenced when warning about government overreach and expanding state control.
Sadly, it seems that almost 30 percent of Gen Z (and some Millennials) haven’t read the book or understand the danger.
CATO’s Blog notes that:
In a newly released Cato Institute 2023 Central Bank Digital Currency National Survey of 2,000 Americans, we asked respondents whether they “favor or oppose the government installing surveillance cameras in every household to reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity.”
Fortunately, the poll shows that 75 percent of Americans oppose or are strongly opposed to this insane idea.
However, CATO also notes that the younger you get, the less concerned Americans are about state surveillance and control:
…Americans under the age of 30 stand out when it comes to 1984‐style in‐home government surveillance cameras. 3 in 10 (29 percent) Americans under 30 favor “the government installing surveillance cameras in every household” in order to “reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity.” Support declines with age, dropping to 20 percent among 30–44-year-olds and dropping considerably to 6 percent among those over the age of 45.
Support for 24/7 surveillance was especially high among those younger than 30. Almost a third of those born after 1993 said they would welcome round-the-clock monitoring by the government.
Those respondents in their 40s, 50s, and 60s were almost totally opposed. That is a terribly disturbing trend that bodes ill for liberty in America in the next decades.
In his Boston Globe Email Newsletter, Jeff Jacoby provides his explanation for this sad state among Zoomers:
…perhaps, [it] is that Generation Z has been indoctrinated to regard safety, not freedom, as the highest good — so much so that many would rather be under the nonstop watch of the state than face the possibility of being abused or endangered.”
If so, they are in for a fearful awakening. What little protection they might gain from being under the authorities’ constant watch is nothing compared with the peril they would face. Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition is as relevant as ever: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Inviting Big Brother into your home will not keep Gen Z-ers safe. And by the time they realize what they have given up, it will be too late to get it back.
Jacoby adds that the protagonist of Orwell’s novel, Winston Smith, is a weak man who resents the regime — and is ultimately broken for it. And the must-read book’s final words are haunting: “He loved Big Brother.”
Yet, after all we have seen and know about tyranny, almost a third of Generation Z is still prepared to love Big Brother too. Yes, we must be afraid. Very afraid.
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.