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A Dystopian Society In The Book, Called “Oceania"

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As stated, 1984 is a book that based on a dystopian society called “Oceania” ”and its main purpose is to show the readers a world that has no freedom of choice, of action and even of thought. Totalitarianism, refers to “relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinion and that exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life.” and also “exercising control over the freedom, will, or thought of others; authoritarian; autocratic.”.

In the story, the government and the face of the party: Big Brother, they control the media and communication in the country and the right to choose what to think is stripped from the citizens. The features of this type of control over the citizen are displayed especially early in the book. In book 1, chapter 1, there is a telescreen that cannot be turned off in Winston’s apartment, that sends brainwashing messages while acting as an audio transmitter. These telescreens are described as “omnipresent” and are literally everywhere to monitor the people. Alternatively, the Big Brother also has other ways to maintain control over the people, which is the “Thought Police”. These are personnel that, instead of stopping crime like a police, they catch people that don’t fully submit to the party and brainwash/torture them in “The ministry of love”. The most horrifying thing about these thought polices, however, are the fact that “child-spices” exist.

According to the book, especially, chapter 3, page 168: “ The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. ” This basically means that not only telescreens are omnipresent, but even spies are also too. This creates a situation where the people of Oceania can only trust and themselves. To an extent, even parents have to keep tabs on their very own child. This type of situation is happening in our world at this very moment and that would be North Korea and their methods of controlling the citizens, which acts as the base of their brutal regime. North Korea practices a similar “omnipresent” monitoring and observation, to a point that nobody in the country ( most likely except the leader himself ) posses real privacy.

Similar to the omnipresent telescreens, North Korea government wiretaps telephone communications and rely on informants-provided information. These informants are just regular people but due to the fact that there is a reward system ( usually rewards food, very few people have food to eat, at peak, 3,500,000 people died of starvation or related disease and 10 million are starving. (2),(3) ) , they are heavily incentivised to report suspicious behaviour to the party. Alternatively, China has also implemented a certain type of public surveillance which shares a remarkable resemblance to the telescreens in 1984. The Chinese government established a system that keeps track of citizens behaviour and translates it to a “sesame credit”, this system is directly linked to the public surveillance that is again, “omnipresent”, anything you do can affect your credit. For example, if a person was caught jaywalking by a CCTV, then his/her credit would be deducted. If a person pays bills late or commits any indecent activities, their score will be lowered.

With the points being deducted, some are bound to reach a lower level, which then will restrict their social activities through different methods, like transportation, medical inconvenience. Reality control is also a part of 1984’s main theme. The party ( Ingsoc ) controls the flow of information and limits only what they want their people to see. They rule the country with an iron fist made of terror, surveillance and propaganda. “Newspeak” is a language created by the party to restrict freedom of thought, due to the nature of its limited vocabulary. An example of this would be “unperson”, a word to speak meaning vapourization of a person. In fact, said person isn’t simply killed or disposed of, he/she is completely erased from history, thanks to the power of Big Brother, capable of altering history itself, no matter the issue, they can always change it and make it beneficial to the party. As a matter of fact, Ingsoc has a specific department that “edits history” and that would be the Ministry of Truth. Let not the name fool you as it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.

In book 1 chapter 3, Winston thinks to himself: “ If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death? ”. This symbolises the horrifying and unimaginable stretch of Ingsoc tentacles, is further and deeper than anyone’s guess. I t is even stated that: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”It is worth noting that the party flourishes the environment and the society as a whole, again, shaping reality. An example of this would be at the beginning of chapter 1, where “Victory Mansion” and “Victory Gin” are seen. Although they have the word “Victory” in it, they are described as bad quality. Also, Winston uses vices in the story to calm himself or to help himself with his emotions and point of view in life, after all, he is an old man. In his case, his vices are cigarettes and gin.

However, these vices are not his personal choice, rather it is assigned to him by the party, this is a type of twisted yet hidden method of control over the people. Propaganda also plays an important role in the creation of such dystopian. Ingsoc simultaneously brainwashes the citizens through various methods. In fact, the party’s slogan is: “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength” and “Big Brother is watching you.” It is not hard to realise that these words contradict each other, which firstly, is the display of “doublethink”, an act of simultaneously believing two things that fundamentally contradict each other as correct. Ingsoc uses this to confuse and control the language and freedom of will of the citizens. “Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology” by Alfred B. Evans, Jr, stated : “We are for the withering away of the state, and at the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship, which represents the most powerful and mighty of all forms of the state which have existed up to the present day.

The highest development of the power of the state, with the object of preparing the conditions of the withering away of the state: that is the Marxist formula. Is it “contradictory”? Yes, it is “contradictory.” But this contradiction is a living thing and wholly reflects the Marxist dialectic.” (6)Also, the party’s messages are very easily accessible while anything other than that is nowhere to be found. Firstly, Big Brother’s posters are seen everywhere with the party’s slogan mentioned above, the omnipresent telescreens display and read out messages from the party…examples are littered in the book. The main point is, the party shapes the reality the people live in and makes sure that they are always under the influence of the party and would not subject themselves to other thoughts, presumingly rebellious thoughts. As for real-life counterparts, or even George Orwell’s inspiration for the book, that would be Germany under Hitler’s rule in 1933.

The Nazi Empire created the: “Hitlerjugend”, which directly translates into Hitler Youth. This is an organization that focuses on brainwashing the young generation into “super soldiers” with a constant education of Nazi’s ideology and the greatness of Hitler. Eventually, at the beginning of World War II, these trained teenagers are put into battle. This organization poses a fairly noticeable presence in the whole of German society. They present themselves as a sort of Germany’s version of the boy scouts. Kids are taken away at a young age to join this type of camp and receive training with the sole purpose of becoming part of the military. This also poses a threat to those parents who might have thoughts against the party, as their children are in the hands of the party. Simultaneously, the party adapt to “Gleichschaltung” is to control and maintain coordination over all aspects of German society through the creation of organizations with compulsory membership. This type of control the Nazi Empire adapted is not as blatant as the ones stated in 1984, but a seemingly peaceful yet non-human way.

At a young age of 6 to 10, kids, no matter the gender, are put into organizations that help “train” them into Deutsches Jungvolk ( Young German Boys ) or Bund Deutscher Mädel ( League of German Maidens ) that are potentially useful to the military. (5) Along with other policies, this fundamentally changes the people’s view of Hitler and the party.Some may think, the mentioned “newspeak” is simply a work of fiction and doesn’t exist in the world anymore. However, the truth is far darker than that. There are cases where governments use language and polish or justify their behaviours, these are called Politically correct language, which without a doubt is the newspeak of today. An infamous example of the usage of such language would be the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The US, UK, Australia and Poland, along with other military support, launched an airstrike on Ba’athist Iraq which unfolded the month-long war. George Bush, the president of United States of America, claims that the operation, code name Iraqi Freedom, had a sole purpose of disarming Iraq of “weapons of mass destruction”.

At the end of the operation,1 month and 4 days since the initial airstrike, military forces could not locate the said weapon and there seemingly is no evidence of such existence of the weapon. However, according to a poll conducted by CBS News in the same year, titled: Talk First, Fight Later (13), shows that 85% of people believe that Iraq does possess such “weapons of mass destruction‘. This is a display of the government polishing their actions and from a statement by U.S.

Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN security council, he stated: “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein’s history of aggression . given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond? ” (14) The use of wordplay here is a clear showcase of “Politically Correct Words”, although evidence of said weapon exist is nowhere to be found and that it weakens the argument, it plays a huge role in convincing the audience, especially the people of US. Censorship is one of the key components of a totalitarian government body, as they restrict all flow of information and only allow those who suit their values and view.

In 1984, Winston has a job in the ministry of peace, where he received an order from the party: “’The reporting of Big Brother’s Order for the Day in The Times of December 3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to non-existent persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority before filing.’ This rewritten part of history will presumably be released to the general public, which contributes towards creating a positive outlook for the party, which is a key to controlling the people. The Tiananmen Incident in China shares certain similarities when put to a comparison. In normal search engines such as Google, pictures of a tank running a protesting student over can be found commonly among millions of results. However, on China’s concealed network and search engine: Baidu, none of these pictures, or any that poses a threat to the outlook of China are nowhere to be found.

Propaganda, as mentioned above, is a key element of reality control, it is essentially waved after a wave of advertising-like messages the government sends out to their citizens. Constant exposure to this type of messages can effectively brainwash a person. Propaganda can be spread in many different ways, such as posters, education, speech or any type of message delivery. In 1984, posters of the face of the party, Big Brother is seen everywhere and the telescreens also contribute towards sending messages. North Korea and it’s political party: The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) is a great example of this as their use of propaganda is infamous across the world. Firstly, their education of the youth is based on materials that are designed to convince North Koreans that America is the evilest country in the world, claiming that their sole purpose behind every move is to pursue “global supremacy”.

In an interview conducted by Sean Illing from Vox towards North Korea’s Propaganda Book, written by three state-sanctioned North Korean academics,titled: “The US Imperialists Started the Korean War”. In the book it states, when asked about the purpose of the US and their aims to conquer Korea : “The trend of revolutionary developments to peace and democracy, national independence and socialism constituted a fatal blow to the aggressive policy of world domination pursued by the US imperialists who had called for “global supremacy” immediately after WWII.” (7)Other than education, North Korea, being a Totalitarian government, has full control over media. Films, music, art that is not propaganda related are considered garbage.

It is also worth noting, “unperson” ( executions did both publicly or privately ) is very common as the North Korea government controls their citizen to an extent with a set of straight rules. Once found disobeying rules, an excursion will most likely follow. The triggering conditions are also bizarre, from the basic “not trusting the government or conduct any activities that the party deems harmful to the society” or “ not crying realistically enough when members of the inner party die”. This just shows that the power of Totalitarianism and how a power like this can rot the minds of individuals into extreme control over the people.

In 1984, it was mentioned that the war between countries are basically everlasting, Oceania and the other 2 countries: Eastasia and Eurasia, are always in a state of war or alliance, Winston realises that the enemy keeps changing, one week Oceania could be partners with Eurasia and the next week they could be at war. Not only does this incentivise Oceania to put almost all its resources towards the development on the military ( excluding the control of people, obviously), this puts the people on the edge, on a constant state of fear and terror.In our world, we now have “war-on-terror” ( 11 ). Before the 9/11 incident broke loose around 12 years ago, people’s awareness was ever so little about such thing called terrorism. But with the increasing terrorist activities ( both in frequency and magnitude ) such as the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred in 2013, or the more recent 2015 Paris ISIS attack, that resulted in 137 deaths and 368 wounded.

It is safe to say that, the war never stopped, it is the enemy that is changing. With the presence of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban, alongside with the uprising of The Islamic State ( ISIS ), it is without doubt, that it puts the people on a constant state of fear, thanks to the high profile attacks that these groups are conducting all across the world. This shares a remarkable resemblance to the world in 1984, but in a different setting, yet, the fundamental concepts are still very much the same.

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