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1984 By George Orwell: The Issue Of Propaganda In America

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Propaganda is the face of America. It is used every day by large companies, interest groups, and political campaigns. By expressing broad, popular ideas, powerful people have the ability to attract many different groups of subordinates. However, one specific propaganda technique is quite intriguing because of its ability to easily control a large amount of people: intentional vagueness – where a statement is purposefully indistinct so that a person may create their own interpretations of it’s meaning.

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Propaganda, specifically the use of intentional vagueness, is portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984. In the story, Winston Smith lives in dystopic London, which is controlled by the personalistic regime of Big Brother. This regime uses surveillance, mind-control, and propaganda to control the people. By using vague slogans and political posters to control the people of Oceania, the Party allows for people to positively interpret the government’s promotions, which truly have negative connotations. The use of intentional vagueness is also seen in modern, American politics. Both groups implement these strategies to brainwash their peoples into believing that they are secure, protected, and loved. By repeating creative, catchy slogans, powerful people have the opportunity to catch others’ attention.

In 1984, doublethink is a fictional language technique that makes somebody believe two opposing statements at the same time. Doublethink is most notably applied in the government”s slogans In the beginning of the story, the narrator describes the Ministry of Truth, a part of the government that changes history to make Big Brother and the government seem favorable. They are headquartered in a large, pyramidal building. When describing Winston’s view of the building, the narrator says, “From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength” (Orwell 6).

All of these slogans use “doublethink” to persuade the people that the government rules in favor of society. First, “War Is Peace” makes people believe that by having an international enemy, patriotism and nationalism will create social unity. However, this slogan disregards the fact that country is still at war. Second, “Freedom Is Slavery” connects to citizens because they are expected to live in accordance to regulations. People who resist these regulations are brainwashed to get rid of “dangerous” opinions. By doing this, the Party make people believe that free thought is bad. This connects to the government’s third and final slogan, “Ignorance is Strength”. The head administration is able to make people believe that by following the government’s theories, and not their own, they can create a better nation. The Party uses intentional vagueness in these slogans to create a law-abiding, closed-minded, dystopian society.

18 March 2020

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