War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength. The party slogan of Ingsoc illustrates the sense of contradiction which characterizes the novel 1984. That the book was taken by many as a condemnation of socialism would have troubled Orwell greatly, had he lived to see the aftermath of his work. 1984 was a warning against totalitarianism and state sponsored brutality driven by excess technology. Socialist idealism in 1984 had turned to a total loss of individual freedom in exchange for false security and obedience to a totalitarian government, a dysutopia. 1984 was more than a simple warning to the socialists of Orwell's time. There are many complex philosophical issues buried deep within Orwell's satire and fiction. It was an essay on personal freedom, identity, language and thought, technology, religion, and the social class system. 1984 is more than a work of fiction. It is a prediction and a warning, clothed in the guise of science fiction, not so much about what could happen as it is about the implications of what has already happened. Rather than simply discoursing his views on the social and political issues of his day, Orwell chose to narrate them into a work of fiction which is timeless in interpretation. This is the reason that 1984 remains a relevant work of social and philosophical commentary more than fifty years after its completion.
The fictional world of 1984 is best described as bleak. In the aftermath of the fall of capitalism and nuclear war, the world has been divided among three practically identical totalitarian nation-states. The novel takes place in London, which has become a part of Oceania, the nation state comprising the Americas and western Europe. A state of perpetual war and poverty is the rule in Oceania. However, this is merely a backdrop, far from the most terrifying aspect of life in 1984. Oceania is governed by a totalitarian bureaucracy, personified in the image of Big Brother, the all-knowing/ all-seeing godlike figure that represents the government. Big Brother is best described as a "totalitarian socialist dictator, a political demagogue and religious cult leader all rolled into one." So great is the power of Big Brother that the reader is unsure whether he actually exists or is simply a propaganda tool of the government. The party of Big Brother, Ingsoc (English Social...
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...ailed as a system of government. Perhaps in Orwell's socialist commentary he failed to take notice of the trends being embraced by capitalism. Behavioral psychology states that reward is a far greater incentive than punishment is a deterrent. In society today thought control is much more pleasant, subtle, and diverse than it was in Orwell's vision.The media, television, the internet, computer games, and movies serve to indoctrinate us into the norms of society in a way which is much more complex than Big Brother's propaganda. We are depoliticized, kept away from the real issues by superficial diversions, much like the proles. Big Brother may not exist, but his name is everywhere. Perhaps Aldus Huxley's Brave New World would have better served as a predictor of modern society's fall. Orwell predicted that the truth would be concealed and that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley thought that the truth would be drowned in irrelevance and that what we love will ruin us. Orwell's political commentary and philosophical issues are still relevant, but we live in a world far more complex than he could have ever predicted. Big Brother isn't watching. He doesn't need to. We're watching him.
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