• The article discusses the emergence of ‘censorship’ in 1914 after the British declared war on Germany and deployed censors to intercept communication.
• The system of censorship was designed to prevent the communication of strategic intelligence between the enemy and their agents.
• George Orwell’s quote from “1984” is used to highlight how censorship has the potential to alter history and create an “endless present” in which the Party is always right.
In August 1914, the world was cast into a tumultuous state as Great Britain declared war on Germany. As the conflict escalated, the British government quickly sought to gain a strategic advantage by disabling Germany’s communication networks. To this end, they deployed a ship, the Alert, with a mission to sabotage German undersea cables, thus disabling their ability to communicate with the world.
In addition to this mission, the British also employed an army of 180 censors to intercept communication between the enemy and their agents. The censors were dispatched to stations across the empire, from Hong Kong to Malta to Singapore. This network was designed to prevent the communication of strategic intelligence between the enemy and their agents, with censors handling more than 50,000 messages per day.
The emergence of censorship in 1914 was one of the earliest examples of the power of information control. As George Orwell wrote in his famous novel “1984”, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” This quote serves to highlight how censorship has the potential to alter history and create an “endless present” in which the Party is always right.
The implications of censorship extend beyond the context of war. In today’s world, information control is used to censor or manipulate the narrative of events. These tactics can be used by governments to suppress dissent, or by corporations to manipulate public opinion. As such, it is important to be aware of the power of censorship and its ability to distort the truth.