1984 By George Orwell: Ignorance Is Not Bliss
“Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness” (Orwell 136). George Orwell’s 1984 portrays a dystopian society where the governing power, the Party, rules their people through psychological manipulation and by stripping them of independent thought. After World War II, the Inner Party members carefully orchestrated an ingenious system to oppress an entire superstate of people by using constant surveillance and creating a language ridded of words deemed unnecessary and used in free thought. The Party used many other influential tactics to cause the Party members to follow the philosophy of Ingsoc, willingly and forcibly. The tactics of psychological manipulation that impacted greatest was the Party’s control of all the information their people recieved, propaganda, hate, and the elimination of their compassion.
The Party fabricated almost all documents to what they wanted the public to believe, therefore erasing history, truth, and the people’s sense of reality. In order for the Party to erase, bend, and create an unlimited amount of history and current occurrences, they forbad the people of Oceania to possess written records. The Party could even make a person “vaporize”, a term that indicates the disappearance of an individual from all documents as if they were never alive. The Party had a whole “Ministry of Truth” dedicated to flipping history, art, news, and education into the Party’s favor. This Ministry burned the all the original documents that gave the wrong message, replaced the salvageable ones with propaganda, and created entirely falsified history, news, art, and more. Orwell perfectly states the Party’s goal of this strategy, “´Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ´controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. ´. . . The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had actually been destroyed. For how could you establish the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?”(Orwell 119-120). The people believed all the rubbish the Party threw at them, because they had no evidence to contradict it. This tactic was a form of psychological manipulation, because the Party abused their power by altering everything the people knew to be favorable to their revolution. In addition to false information, the Party forced propagando onto the civilians so that they, more common than not, willingly believed even more rubbish.
The Party used propaganda to turn the people’s hate toward “enemies” and “thought criminals”, causing them to view unorthodox individuals as nefarious in turn. Propaganda also distracted the people from their current living situation, giving them someone to blame other than the guilty Party leaders. The following quote is an example of the propaganda used to give the people a common and sole “enemy”. Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People… was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago. . . had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on the level of Big Brother himself. . . He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party´s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching(Orwell 99).
By giving the moldable minds “the Enemy of the People”, it naturally encouraged the people to recognize behavior that was shunned and punished upon, and it caused them to alienate and incriminate individuals that had similar attributes. Everyday there was a required “Two Minutes Hate” period where the Party members must express their hatred while watching a film depicting the Party’s enemies, usually Goldstein. The slightest unorthodox facial expression could raise suspicion from law enforcers to children, ¨´You´re a traitor!´ yelled the boy. ´You´re a thought-criminal! You´re a Eurasian spy! I´ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines!” (Orwell 109). The Party brainwashed children with the “Spies” program and propaganda from birth to fully adore the Party, and therefore Big Brother, the violence, the wars, the slogans, and the hate that it spread. Hate for the Party’s enemies was so strongly enforced, because “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary” (Mencken). Keeping the public distracted in these ways turned the hate onto the enemies instead of the Party, and it also made the people less sympathetic to their enemies. The deafening hate filled the holes that used to be filled compassion, empathy, and love.
The Party sucked almost all of the humanity out of their people by exposing them to an abundance of violence and by tearing apart personal relationships. The Party aimed to make non-sentient clones whose only and strongest loyalty was to them, “The Party’s monstrous and irresistible final aim: to stamp out utterly the last vestiges of human individuality and independence of thought, all in the name of the unalloyed and unapologetic pursuit of absolute power”(Charles Scaliger). To attain this goal, the Party knew that one’s feelings are their greatest weakness, so they discouraged love to keep their people focused and loyal. The Party did so by the pre-meditated manipulation of the populace’s opinions on sex, “Chastity was deeply ingrained in them as Party loyalty. By careful early conditioning, by games and cold water, by the rubbish that was dinned into them at school and in the Spies and the Youth League, by lectures, parades, songs , slogans, and marital music, the natural feeling had been driven out of them”(Orwell 150). The Party, almost literally, drove the sex drive out of the Party members and turned children on their parents, leaving only “comrades” and loveless marriage relationships. Orwell movingly states the difference of emotions the people felt because of this, pre-Party and post-Party, ¨Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason… Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows” (Orwell 115). This moving quote touches on how they had no friends but only “comrades”, children reported their own parents, public executions and footage of carnage was entertainment, sex was viewed despicable, and love was long forgotten. All in all, the Party’s main goal was to create a loyal and obedient war machine, and that’s what they achieved.
The people of Oceania lost freedom of thought, speech, and love. We must take 1984 as a warning and a caution to change our path, for already technology numbs and distracts our society, war is becoming constant, surveillance almost always watches the public, ignorance grows greater, empathy for others is close to gone, the media is biased, and many are following the popular opinions without their own thought. Although in Orwell’s Oceania, the Party used much more extreme and intentional methods to force their populace to follow their rule, there was once a meagle beginning. I pray we are not nearing that beginning, for every person should have freedom and at the very least, freedom of thought. But without the allowance for independant or rebellious thought, the people of Oceania were forced, if not willing, to believe what was expected of them and to live how they were expected to live. Ignorance is not bliss.
- “In Defense of Women. ” In Defense of Women, by H. L. Mencken, Waking Lion Press, an Imprint of The Editorium, 2013.
- Orwell, George, et al. 1984. Debols!Llo, 2017.
- Scaliger, Charles. ‘Orwell was right–and wrong: George Orwell’s 1984 accurately portrays many aspects of totalitarianism, but this tale of ‘Big Brother’ is not without its flaws. ‘ The New American, 14 May 2007, p. 29+. Academic OneFile, http://link. galegroup. com/apps/doc/A163864886/AONE?u=mlin_b_blatshl&sid=AONE&xid=5319664a. Accessed 21 May 2019.
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