Recent terrorist threats and armed conflicts that have taken place round the globe have prompted a general feeling of vulnerability among the international community. Now most citizens are not likely to complain, or even ask questions, when they are deprived of their individual freedoms and privacy, they assume that this reduction Of individual freedoms is meant to increase the security of the population, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. These sets of measures are part of a plan to satisfy the aim of those in power.
They want to achieve total control of the masses and, for that purpose; they threaten the equality under the law, the individual freedom of hooch, and the dignity of every individual. As David Bring mentions in “The self-preventing prophecy; or how a dose of nightmare can help tame tomorrows peril” (1 999), George O’Neill, in 1 984, describes a form of government which is akin to the tyrannies of today, a nation in which the masses are ill-educated and free speech is punishable. The elites do this to preserve their short-term status, dooming society to disaster in the long term. 984 is a book that in many ways represented the fears of the time, in which the “threats” of socialism were omnipresent on the headlines of western Edie. But, where Orwell thought to be portraying the dangers of communism, he ended up describing today’s unilateralism, a perfect portrait of a government that has used war as a tool to justify cutting the freedoms of the people; that has used speech codes to limit our range of thought and to kill human individuality; that uses media to create consensus and rewrite history; and that has used technology to demonic its opposition.
Orwell did a great job in representing the tendencies and motivations of an oligarchic form of government, and the terrible, hopeless result of such government: unanimity denied its freedom to think, to be individual, and to disagree. Humanity denied its freedom to be human. This essay deals with the parallelisms between Rowel’s 1 984 and today’s forms of government. Focusing on the consequences such form of government has in the society of the book and the impact it has on the characters and people of Oceania, and addressing the variety of conflicts that Winston faces throughout the story in his struggle against Big Brother.
There’s great similarities between George Rowel’s 1984 and today’s governments. Especially in the way our freedoms re reduced for the sake of, what the system likes to call, “global security’. 1984 was written in 1949, but today it still remains one of the most powerful warnings ever issued against the dangers of a totalitarian society. Orwell illustrated the peril he’d witnessed in totalitarian regimes, such as those in Spain, Germany and the Soviet Union, in which absolutist leaders had taken control over the population and made use of advanced technology to perpetuate their totalitarianism.
In the down of the nuclear age, the idea of a post-apocalyptic society, where everyone is monitored 24 hours a day by means of the telescopes, seemed somewhat possible, and that troubled Orwell. The title, 1984, emphasized the idea that a real post-apocalyptic era could come sooner than most people would;. ‘e expected, the future society portrayed in the novel was set just 35 years after the book was written. Unlike the novel had predicted, the real future of society was quite different, the Cold War was finally over and the totalitarian regimes of Europe and the OURS vanished.
Democracy seemed to have won the battle over any other form of government (in most countries), that’s what we’ve been told and what cost of the people still think, nonetheless, if we conduct some research or simply stop watching the mainstream media, the truth begins to surface, just like the tip of an iceberg, and We find Out the ease with what those in power lie to us again and again, as if they knew that our consciousness is dormant and, just like the “double think” in the novel, even though we have contradictory data in our minds, we can’t discern the real facts from the lies (or we simply don’t want to think about it because we enjoy a certain level of comfort in our lives and we are not willing to risk it). “WAR IS PEACE,
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”, this is one of the slogans of The Party and it is the perfect example to understand the level of manipulation the people of Oceania is subjected to. This is the first time we encounter the idea of doublethink in the novel. With the use of propaganda- induced fear, the Party is able to force the people to accept anything it declares, even if it is entirely illogical. Wilson, the protagonist of the story, suffers the effects of doublethink throughout great part of the plot. He notices the incongruence between what the party says and what he knows is true, but he can’t do anything about t because the mere act of thinking individually would be considered an act of treason.
The model of government Orwell described in 1984 is an exaggeration of the totalitarian regimes he witnessed during the years he spent in the old continent, and an attempt to warn the world of the dangers that those currents of political thought pose to society. That is what Orwell intended to do, warn us of the danger of totalitarianism so that we could avoid letting it happen, but if we lived in a totalitarian regime, wouldn’t we know about it? Are the citizens of Oceania aware of their situation? I’d say cost of them aren’t. Just like in Oceania, in the real world we live under an endless set Of rules, most of which are implied in cultural and social values, we just follow them on impulse without wondering why we have to act that way, after all it’s just our culture, right?
Or is it something else? In my opinion my freedom begins when am considered a misfit, a dropout, a loner, a deviant, a black sheep, a freak… All of these terms are pejorative, implanted in the language to exclude from society those who trespass the thin line between what is considered acceptable and what’s against the yester. In 1984, The party created a language to substitute English, the Newsweek, this language was modeled in such a way that there’d be no room for free-thinking, the main idea behind the concept of Newsweek is: if you can’t find a word to criticize the system you’ll always agree with the system. How is this related with our language?
It’s simple, rather than changing the language and eliminating the words that let us criticize the system (mainly because that would be impossible), the governments of today use the language for their advantage, using certain words in certain moments to influence the audience, for instance a government would say “employment reform” instead of “job cutback” because people don’t like cutbacks and the term “reform” is neutral and can mean anything, other example would be “Syrian rebels” instead “Syrian terrorists”, they call them rebels and not terrorists simply because they are beneficial for the interests of the state, regardless of the acts of terror they commit.
The Party not only controls the language, it controls the people’s physical and mental state, and has the ability to change the history at will. The Party continuously floods the people with psychological stimuli to undermine their capacity for independent though; everywhere they go there’s a telescopes with repetitive party slogans and the whole city is covered with sings that read “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”. In our own societies we are also under the exhausting influence of certain ideals artificially implanted into our brains, such is the case of the current ideal of beauty, women, for instance, try to achieve an unattainable concept of beauty that has been created by corporations with the intention of increasing beauty-related products sales.
The party also forces individuals to suppress their sexual series, considering sex as only an act of procreation (this concept of sex is rooted in many contemporary cultures). The family values are also undermined, The party introduces children to an organization called Junior Spies, where they brainwash them and encourage them to spy on their parents and report any sign of disloyalty to The Party. The party also controls the bodies of its subjects, every morning people must undergo a set of exercises called Physical Jerks, and facial expressions are very important because they can give yourself away, this puts the subjects in a perpetual Tate of exhaustion, thing that helps keeping them from thinking too much.
In our world that Telescopes could well be called Faceable, now seems that nothing you do actually matters unless you share it on Faceable, it makes you feel like you almost don’t exist if you are not on Faceable. Also, social networks are now used by intelligence agencies to profile subjects and find individuals that are potential threats to the system, so you better watch what you write online. The party controls every source of information, this allows for total manipulation of contents. The Party rewrites history for its own ends, nobody s allowed to have photos, diaries or any records of their past, making it easy for the party to create its own reality and having the people believe it without questions.
The US invaded Vietnam to protect an antidemocratic regime, they also nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing thousands of innocents, but somehow they’ve managed to convince the World that everything they do is the right thing, and the World does not question it “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. ” (37) This slogan appears twice in the novel, but it gains importance in the scene when Wilson is jailed in the Ministry of Love talking with O’Brien, by creating the image of a nightmarish past you get the people to accept the system, because they don’t want to experience the horrors of that past. In the present The Party has total control of every source of information, so it can manipulate the past at will. Today We see this control on the mainstream media where all the information is biased by political influence.
Orwell implies a critic towards the use of technology for totalitarian purposes, throughout the novel we encounter multiple occasions in which technology is used to control, monitor and even torture those who are noninsured enemies of the party, this use of technology to control and monitor the population is also present in our society, as recent leaks of confidential governmental information have proved (e. G. Weeklies). Oceania is a city in decay where people are living a virtual reality product of The Party’s manipulation of the collective mind, it seems that whoever wants to experience a bit of individuality is always going to end up caught by the Thought Police, nobody escapes The Party s tentacles. Even though Wilson knows he is eventually going to be caught, he thinks its worth to seek redeem and for that he gives up his security, he is an individual with his own opinions and he is not willing to give them up.
It’s this ambition that will eventually lead him into the hands of The Party after making several mistakes, being the greatest of them all having trusted O’Brien. ‘There is no protection in ideas. Ideas, like glass, are hard to seer and it seems can be destroyed by violence. ” (Recall, 5) Finally Wilson gets caught and he is tortured for months, until he gives up his own thoughts and accepts those of The Party, for this he had to give up even the truths that he most irony believed. Wilson ends up believing The Party, he sees 5 fingers where there’s only for, because The Party says so and the party always speaks the truth. Just like Recall says, ideas may be strong, but they are vulnerable to violence.
Willow’s ideals endangered him and could’ve got him killed, but it’s not the Ideas that The Party fears, it’s the freedom that they involve, and freedom is dangerous, it is dangerous for The Party. The fact that our freedom is dangerous to the system is the reason why The Party has done everything in its power to make sure no one can make use of it. The same happens right here right now; we live in a world where our freedom is limited because we pose a threat to the hegemony of the system, we live in a modern 1 984 in which we are told the limitations we have are for our own safety, a world where the powerful can steal, kill and destroy with no repercussions, but anyone of us can get kicked, fined, imprisoned and even killed if we are out on the street and we decide to express our opinions. “Safety” has killed our freedom.