When comparing the dystopian universe described by George Orwell in his seminal novel 1984 to the world today, one can find a harrowing number of similarities. Though many thought that nothing could signify the world metamorphosing into Orwell’s fictional Oceania more than the NSA’s massive surveillance apparatus, lawmakers in Scotland may have just surpassed the United States government in terms of Orwellian mimicry.
The Children and Young People Act of Scotland effectively brings 1984 to life by appointing families government approved ‘shadow parents’ to watch over the country’s youth. Every child, from the time they are born to the time they turn 18 will be given a ‘state guardian’ or ‘named person’ by the Scottish government as of August 2016.
These government approved parents will be tasked with monitoring the ‘wellbeing’ of their allotted child. They will generate ‘reports’ about the child and will have access to all of their private records, including medical and other family information.
According to Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club, these shadow parents will also be given the authority to stage ‘interventions’ for the child. This means that if a child is found to have a ‘wellbeing need’ the government caregiver will be able to plan and stage interventions for the child.
“In substance, the role of the named person is not actually to supplant the family, to state-raised children, but rather to insert a surveying, coercive authority – a spy – in the midst of every family,” said Appleton.
Severing the parent-child relationships is a common theme throughout dystopian literature. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all children were genetically engineered by the state, and the notion of family was abolished. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, baby dogs were separated from their mother during childhood and then indoctrinated into serving as bodyguards for the farms’ leaders when they reached maturity.
Most strikingly however, the Children and Young People Act seems to come almost verbatim from the social policy fantasized in Orwell’s 1984.
“Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen– There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”
Follow the author on Facebook here or on Twitter @PatVKane