Eric Blair, known to his readers under the English pen name of George Orwell (1903-1950), was a man familiar with the roles of government. He served with the British government in Burma under the Indian Imperial Police. Returning to his European roots, Orwell also sided with the Spanish government as he fought with the Loyalists in their civil war. It wasn’t until he wrote professionally as a political writer that Orwell’s ideas of government were fully expressed. Orwell, in his political writings, was extremely contradictory. He was a critic of communism, yet he also considered himself a Socialist.
He had hatred toward intellectuals, but he too was a political writer. It is only natural that a man of paradoxes would write of them. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell develops his Socialist Utopia as a paradoxical society that ultimately succeeds rather than flounders. The society that Orwell creates is full of paradoxes that existed all the way up to its origins. The founders of the new lifestyle, known as the revolutionaries of the mid-twentieth century, leads the public to believe false intentions of revolt, as these purposes soon become exact opposite outcomes.
The original designers seek to create an ideal social order out of England that is beneficial to all. Marin Kessler, a literary essayist, agrees that these ‘utopians… had hoped to construct a perfect society in which men and women could enjoy that ultimate degree of happiness which, it was implied denied through the folly and wickedness of their present rulers’; (304).
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Besides being founded on the concept of a Utopia, the revolutionaries believe they could achieve their goals through Ing soc, a variation on English socialism (named justly).
The main concept of socialism is its stress on social equality, so much that the government distributes any possessions equally. In reality, this policy sought to destroy individual property, instead emphasizing collective property, owned by the government for the ultimate purpose of equality.
Socialism is also often considered the politics of the working class and lower r’e gime, since they actually benefited from it. Although the founders claim to create a socialist Utopia with its respective freedoms, the society of Oceania they create is exactly the opposite of their original principles. O’Brien, a major contributor to the government organization known as the Party, describes the contradictory characteristics of the world power of Oceania, ‘Do you begin to see then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined… The old civilizations claimed they were founded upon love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred’; (Nineteen Eighty-Four 220).
Oceania is anything but socialist; it is rather a totalitarian empire.
The Party is all-powerful in this nation and limits the people’s own power as well. Oceania’s people are oppressed by the government that is supposed to be protecting them and their rights. ‘Orwell foresaw the approach of a total ist society from which faith, custom, common sense, justice, order, freedom, brotherhood, art, literature, and even sexual love would be eradicated,’ ; declares literary critic Russell Kirk. ‘The new ‘socialist’ oligarchy would live for the intoxication of brutal power’; (311).
Every action and policy of the Party demonstrates its oppressiveness. The Party destroys the concept of privacy via the, an instrument used to transmit and receive images.
The Party conceals the truth and only tells lies to its people through the controlled media. The Party destroys a language as it evolves English into Newspeak, a language limited in abstract ideas. The Party outlaws the act of sexual intercourse and procreation. The most horrific violation of natural rights is the Party’s prohibition of individuality. Although there are no written laws in Oceania, ‘there is only one true offense: opposing the Party.’ ; Socialism attempts to create a society with only one true social order, so that all members are equal parts. Oceania, on the other hand, is composed of three real class orders with the top oppressing the other two.
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A work entitled The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, more simply known to the Oceanic public as the book, describes the true class structure: At the apex of the pyramid comes Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful… Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party, its numbers limited to six millions, or something less then two percent of the population of Oceania. Below the Inner Party comes the Outer Party, which, if the Inner Party is described as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the hands. Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as the ‘proles,’ numbering perhaps eighty-five percent of the population.
In terms of our earlier classification, the proles are the Low, who… are not a permanent or necessary part of the structure. (171-172).
The Party of Oceania completely rejects the class structure that Socialism is founded on.
Oceania is more a monarchy than that of a Socialist society, with Big Brother as its immortal and superhuman king; the Party is the nobility class and the proles, mere peasants. Additionally, Socialism is the politics of the proletarians, the working class of a society, differing immensely from the Oceanic structure as the proles are exactly those who are neglected and oppressed. All of the goals the founders sought to bestow upon their supposed, Socialist Utopia do not even imitate those actually outcomes. These intentions, therefore, play a major paradoxical role in this mixed up society. Although the origins of Oceania are paradoxes, the institutions that make up this massive power are also baffling. The most notable signs of paradox to indicate that its establishments are also paradoxical are literally contained in the Party’s slogan: ‘War is Peace.
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Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength’; (7).
Even though this slogan appears irrational, it is due to the fact that it is devised by an irrational and contracting government. The paradoxical government represents the philosophies of that government. The Party’s entire existence lies upon one ultimate paradox, Doublethink.
Doublethink is the ultimate paradox, because as its name suggests it is the philosophy of holding a double meaning, two ideas that are contradictory to one another. ‘It would be impossible, however, for the repressive dictatorship to realize the full benefits… without ‘Doublethink’… Without Doublethink the party would not function,’ ; explains expert on politics Martin Kessler. ‘For, when the party intellectual lies, it is essential that he both know that he is tampering with reality and at the same time genuinely believe in his lie’; (306).
Since the philosophies of Oceanic government are paradoxical, it is no surprise that its four major institution are as well.
The Ministry of Truth, which tells little of it, is responsible for all forms of news, entertainment, education, and fine arts. In reality, the Mini true, as translated in Newspeak, falsifies all information and media exposed to the public, destroying any details hinting otherwise. The Ministry of Peace (Mini pax) deals only with waging war, rather than keeping peace since Oceania was always in combat with either East asia or Eurasia, the only two other superpowers. The Ministry of Love (Miniluv) offers little compassion whatsoever, because they were responsible for punishing and even vaporizing people with even a hint at anything against the Party.
The majority of those sent to the Miniluv by the Thought Police are truly guilty of nothing. Lastly, the Ministry of Plenty (Mini plenty) is contradictory to its name, because although its job is to supply the public with economic goods, it rarely distributes anything to keep the power and property within the Party (8).
The institutions within the Oceanic society are mere paradoxes of the society as a whole. Even more paradoxes exist within the Party’s primary ways of ruling the continental power of Oceania. Its contradictory methods and instruments used for managing demonstrate the true paradox of the society. The technology and use of the exhibits many paradoxical qualities.
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This device, while seeming like an entertainment, is able to cause more suffering than pleasure. It is an oppressive instrument that completely abolishes the concept of privacy as ‘the people that are forced to hear and see the television screen can themselves be heard and seen at all times under constant supervision even while sleeping or in the bathroom,’ ; according to writer Is saac Asimov (315).
The utilization of the becomes un pleasurable when it makes it easier for the Party to catch one in any act suspicious to it. The Paradox arises even in its mechanism as it transmits propaganda to the people like a television, but at the same time it receives images of the people like a camera. The true paradox arises, because ‘there may have to be five watchers for every person watched. And then, of course, the watchers must themselves be watched, since no one in the Orwellian world is suspicion-free’; (Asimov 315).
It is a wonder how such a technology is able to work, as the philosophies of the Party must be broken at one point.