1984, by George Orwell: An Analysis of a Totalitarian Society
“Totalitarianism: Of, connecting to, being, or imposing a type of federal government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all elements of life, the person is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed,” (dictionary. com). Essentially, totalitarianism is a type of government in which the person or individuals in power seek to maintain outright control over every person under their authority, with virtually all value removed from the idea of an individual.
The term was identified by Hannah Arendt, the German-American political theorist who wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism, influenced by Hitler and Stalin of the just-finished The second world war and just-starting Cold War. Reacting to the terrors of WWII that she experienced firsthand, Arendt describes the evils of totalitarianism as she saw them. George Orwell, an author living at the exact same time as Arendt, responded similarly to the extensive war and terrifying totalitarianism. In his 1984, Orwell creates a strictly totalitarian society, offering a worrying look into a possible future.
Orwell’s society shows every particular named above in the meaning of totalitarianism, its federal government’s sole objective to preserve power. The society of 1984 operated on the belief that control over the human mind is control over reality. As O’Brien, a crucial member of the Orwellian government referred to as the Party, says, “Reality is not external. Truth exists in the human mind, and no place else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case quickly perishes; just in the mind of the Celebration, which is cumulative and never-ceasing.
Whatever the Celebration holds to be fact is fact. It is difficult to see reality except by browsing the eyes of the Celebration,” (205 ). The Party is not concerned with unbiased truths. They argue that truth can only end up being truth when it is thought; in addition, the believed reality is the only reality. When O’Brien tells Winston that 2 plus 2 equals 5, Winston needs to think it, for he is not allowed any other option. Broadening on that concept, the Celebration states, “Who controls the past controls the future; who manages today controls the past,” (204 ).
Only today out of the 3 times is concrete, so the others do not actually exist. And considering that reality exists only in the human mind, the Celebration has only to manage the ideas of that mind to manage the reality of past, present, and future. In their attempt to control the human mind, the Party looks for to remove all thoughtcrime, the criminal offense of thinking anything versus the infallible Big Bro, the intangible being by which whatever is purchased. The act of thinking about committing a criminal offense is, as Orwell explains it, “the important criminal activity that contained all others in itself,” (19 ).
That action is considered by the Celebration the most horrible, for just with thought and a conscious decision to act will any action be performed; without thoughtcrime, no crime would be dedicated. As such, the Party utilizes every possible approach of eliminating thoughtcrime. Winston Smith, the main character in 1984, devotes a thoughtcrime at the beginning of the book when he acquires a diary and in it composes, “Down with Big Sibling,” (19 ). He then reflects on the unavoidable repercussions of his action: “Whether he happened with the journal, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference.
The Thought Police would get him simply the same,” (19 ). The Party has the power to realize any committed thoughtcrime and to penalize the criminal. Their ability to do so is even seen in the language; the English language is established to please the ideological needs of the society, developing Newspeak. One male says,” ‘Do not you see that the whole goal of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we will make thoughtcrime literally impossible, since there will be no words in which to reveal it,” (46 ). Without stop working, the Party maintains their control over all of the society.
In order to follow the society conceived in 1984, an approach of thinking is absolutely vital; the action of doublethink. Doublethink is a technique of reality control; the Celebration’s supreme objective in all their actions. As Orwell explains it, “Doublethink implies the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind all at once, and accepting both of them,” (176 ). It is the concept on which Ingsoc (the society of 1984) is established. Ingsoc’s standard tenets are as follows: War is Peace, Liberty is Slavery, and Lack Of Knowledge is Strength.
It is possible to intentionally speak a lie while securely believing in what one states- through doublethink. One’s memory can be reorganized and memory transformed- through doublethink. Though to our unenlightened minds these terms may seem to be inconsistent, the procedure of doublethink removes all confusion. Plainly, these statements are far from oxymorons; rather, they are outright truth. Doublethink enables all of the society’s actions that would otherwise seem to be ludicrous; when again, the Party’s ultimate power is revealed.
The Party’s outright control is kept through different methods, one such being the infliction of threats and discomfort. Every member of the society understands that once a thoughtcrime is committed, that criminal is taken by the Thought Police. When Winston is detained, he is able to experience firsthand the penalty built by the Celebration. He is taken to the Ministry of Love- a circumstances of Newspeak’s use, the significance of love is absolutely reversed- where he is to be made sane.
The Celebration totally believes in the significance and rightness of their actions, and O’Brien discusses how their society is different:” ‘We are not content with unfavorable obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When lastly you surrender to us, it should be of your own free choice … Everyone is washed clean,'” (210 ). Winston must completely surrender to O’Brien. It does not matter what he says, however rather what he thinks, for in the mind lies the ultimate power. Describing the process enacted in the Ministry of Love, O’Brien states,” ‘There are three stages in your reintegration …
There is learning, there is understanding, and there is approval,” (215 ). In order to achieve the state preferred by the Celebration, one deemed psychologically deranged need to go through all 3 of these phases, as Winston ultimately does. Nevertheless, Winston initially is not able to truly think whatever said by the Celebration. He has the ability to say that he thinks, and maybe wants to think, but doubt still remains. As the final push to belief, Winston is required to the notorious Space 101. O’Brien informs Winston,” ‘The important things that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world … [it] varies from individual to individual,'” (233 ).
The greatest possible torture is individualized, and with this abuse, comes anything. In Room 101, one is required to face his biggest worry. Out of his outright horror, Winston betrays the one he promised never to betray- Julia, the girl with whom he had a love affair. He finally realizes that love of a fellow common person like himself is futile; only the love of Big Bro is important. At the end of the book, Orwell writes, “He had won the triumph over himself. He liked Big Brother,” (245 ). Eventually, the absolute power of the Party enables Winston to think in everything that society does.
Recognizing the significance of the human mind, the Party not just threatens the society, but likewise channels individuals’s capacity into actions to benefit the Celebration. At all times, Oceania is at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. It is not particular whether war actually exists, however the actual truth is not important, for reality exists only in the mind, and the Party informs us that a war is occurring. In doing so, the Celebration ensures themselves of supreme loyalty from the society, for anybody to go against a society in wartime need to definitely be denounced as unpatriotic.
Furthermore, the Party institutes the Hate Duration: for 2 minutes every day, a movie of Emmanuel Goldstein, the pronounced Enemy of the People, is revealed, and the audiences driven to a craze. As Winston states, “The dreadful thing about the 2 Minutes Hate was not that a person was required to act a part, however that it was difficult to prevent joining in,” (12 ). By making use of the power of the human mind, the Party has the ability to advance their control over their society. The society produced in Orwell’s 1984 was certainly an effective society, but the qualities held by that society go against all concepts which we now hold to be important to life.
We assume that we can liberty of speech, and that our language can not be corrupted, yet Orwell says, “Political language- and with variations this is ture of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists- is developed to make lies sound honest and murder reputable, and to offer a look of solidity to pure wind,” (“Politics and the English Language”). We presume that we deserve to challenge anything, yet Orwell tells us, “Anyone who challenges the dominating orthodoxy finds himself silenced with unexpected effectiveness.
A really unfashionable opinion is practically never offered a fair hearing.” Today, Orwell’s terms- Big Brother, doublethink, newspeak, and others- are heard when discussing our own government. Though 1984 is a fictious story written over 50 years earlier, its message is still appropriate today. All of us need to understand Orwell’s warning that he looked for to explain over half a century ago- at any time, all of us face a common risk; that of adhering; that of losing our uniqueness, our ideas, and all qualities valued in humanity.