Re: Regardless of their hacktivist methods.
"Actually, he didn't. 1984, written as a hysterical anti-Communist screed, got almost all of the important bits wrong." - Actually, he may have, only we aren't there yet.
"Orwell saw governments as the problem, when as it turns out a great deal of the civil problems we face are likely more the responsibility of corporations than governments." - fast forward about a decade until the corporations are the government. Does it not concern you that British banking is in tatters and it is business as usual? Does it not concern you revelation after sick sad revelation (MPs, expenses, Murdoch, eurozone, it doesn't matter really, it's all the same) and it is business as usual? There will be a time when this spirals so far out of control it will be cival war or totalitarian regime. I give it ten years at the current rate.
"He saw ubiquitous surveillance as being only a tool of oppression and nothing more; as it turns out, surveillance works just as well in the hands of private citizens against the government" - while the government permits the citizens to make use of surveillance. In our dystopian future, Joe Average won't have access to such things as video cameras, and those preferred citizens that do have such things will know damn well to watch very carefully what they record and when. Cherish these days when every idiot with a smartphone has a portable video camera and every other idiot is happy to mug mindlessly at it for no purpose other than to look a pratt on YouTube.
Of course, it won't be a case of "we're banning video cameras". It will be to protect innocent young children from predatory adults, and how simple it is for any closet paedo to take endless hours of cute young girls frolicking in the daisies, or some Daily Fail pleasing cack like that.
"He believed that political powers would grow and grow until we were left with only two giant opposing nation-states;" - try America and Russia. Yeah, ho hum, that power play again. The current situation in Syria could have been dealt with a long time ago if those two hadn't started a pissing contest. Russia, by the way, will not be the USSR we know of old. It'll be Russia, China, and half the east of Europe.
"in reality, what we see is that nations, particularly totalitarian nations, often tend to fragment when their internal stress reaches a certain point. (Witness, for example, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent splintering of many countries in Eastern and Central Europe.)" - witness North Korea. Witness Iraq before the invasion. Witness maybe Russia devolving into the USSR. If you are a totalitarian leader, you must rule with an iron fist and be willing to smite down those who oppose you, even if they are family. You rule absolutely with absolute fear. The countries you mention? It's mostly because the Soviet leadership got soft and the little countries saw there was another way. This doesn't mean totalitarian nations self-destruct, it just means some leaders are better at mass slaughter than others.
"and can be used to exchange information in a grassroots way very rapidly, and is surprisingly difficult to contain" - for the moment. However some countries have toyed with unplugging the Internet. I would imagine if you pulled the plug on that and ordered mobile networks shut down (put a gun to the right person's head, you'd e surprised how quickly things could happen) that would curtail a lot of the grassroots communications. Telephony can be monitored and/or restricted. Few people have a CB these days, and we all know the state media will be transmitting what we are supposed to hear (try: temporary media shut-down as al qaeda is planning a massive attack on bull...bull...bull...bull...bulll).
"On the flip side, many of the most pressing problems we face, such as economic depression, currency and foreign debt woes, abuse of civil copyright and patent matters as blunt instruments of criminal policy, and so on, totally escaped him."
We worry about economic depression because we have the freedoms to enjoy or fear it. If we reverted to being mere pawns in somebody else's game, we wouldn't have an economy as such. Only that which we are deemed entitled to. In the dystopian future, there will be no civil copyright or patent nonsense. Everything you may create will belong to the government (corporation).
"has become a social metaphor to compare every governmental incursion or social ill with 1984, I don't think most of those comparisons stand up even to cursory inspection." - that's because you are trying to compare NOW with the utter dystopia of 1984. Where we are now is about the crapsack world of "Robocop". We have not yet reached 1984, we still have some freedoms and the ability to think for ourselves once in a while...
Give it a decade. Then ask these questions again.