What did Orwell really do?
Brother's cameras, listening devices, search engines, tweets, legal cover, and public complacency are all over the place. The penetration is more than what we think. In a given work day, for example, the image of a law abiding person is recorded dozens of times and possibly kept in some digital archive in perpetuity. Carry a cell phone then our whereabouts can be traced rather easily. Does privacy have much meaning?
We are familiar with Animal Farm and 1984, insightful stories of human vulnerabilities and manias. The question though comes down to this (ok, too dramatic): do good ideas really matter as active forces that direct and reset courses of life and that expose unexamined presumptions? What recent narrative can we recall that really changed things beyond integument? Civil Rights perhaps? Not sure really.
Orwell did not waste his time. I'm not saying that. His non-fiction work (his essays and personal experience narratives) remain quite moving ... but only for a few people, elitist as this may sound. Beck and Limbaugh have broadcast pulses because they are supported by millions of viewers and listeners. If Orwell had a radio show today, he would be unplugged in a week. He couldn't compete with these guys. In the same vein, I don't really think the Tea Party movement will really last long (if it does, well the Mayans maybe on to something after all), but look at how the movement is changing the political game. Listen to their "ideas" and notice their racist bearing (Civil Rights really change the essence of things?), the dribble of their inspiration sources (Sarah Palin, for example), their unfocused and highly generalized aims (details disable things in a heartbeat), and the political fear they provoke.
What good idea out there today really matters as a challenge to our disabling paradigms?