“We are the dead.” This is a repeating quote and theme of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, reflecting the stagnant, dull, and constricting world of the Orwellian dystopia. This is quite an assumption, having many different values to those with different world-views. As Plato said, “But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this?” Which of these two characters has freedom? The figurative dead or the literal dead? When are we free, if we ever are truly free.
There is quite the dichotomy in the definition of freedom. A perfect example would be the short poem, ‘The Prison Cell’ by Mahmud Darwish. To summarize quickly, a prisoner uses his imagination to escape the tangible imprisonment. The guard outside the door recognizes his own inability to do this and “was sad and he begs the prisoner to give the guard his freedom back.” In a very blatant matter, role reversal occurs. Encouraging the mind brings out the freedom in this humbled man. The man in charge of removing freedom, removes his own. Does following orders blindly as a guard constitute freedom, or simply guarantee the removal of concrete freedoms? To quote the movie “Fight Club”, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Intellectual autonomy is the key to true freedom. The ability to recognize the force-feeding of doctrine and dogma separates the free from the enslaved. In 1984, a point was made several times that the official language of Oceania, ‘Newspeak’ was the only language whose vocabulary decreased every year. This was done in an attempt to limit thought; destroy the ability for critical thinking. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” By reducing the capacity for thought, freedoms are immediately reduced. The ability to think of something something that doesn’t exist is a philosophical exercise with no answer. It is quite apparent that no nation today suffers from an extinction of the vocabulary, but the concept remains valid. If an individual cannot see past a veil of misinformation, no matter the topic, how can they wade through the invalidity for the valid information. Without applying 1984’s principles of doublethink, Ignorance is indeed Slavery.
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The final question proposed is are we ever truly free. Is it possible to escape the barrage of propaganda and idealism of everyday life. For example, America is a ‘free country’. Which is exactly why what someone can and cannot is decided by the government, what drugs they take, what food they eat, how fast they drive, what kind of electricity is used, and even what we learn. This can all be sidestepped by trying to argue that this is simply the framework for an effective government. That is not the argument though. Is it possible to live in society today, truly free? Although the quest for intelligence is generally uninhibited, the intellect is never actually unshackled. Through the use of capitalistic incentives, trivial pursuits and governmental tricks, absolute freedom is unattainable. Although choices are given, any with any sort of meaningfulness in the grand scheme have been decided through pre-existing social conventions. In this sense, freedom does not exist. Superficial freedoms exist and are indeed abundant, however. The definition simply revolves on the decision of what kind of freedom one is looking for.
Freedom is a subjective term. It falls in the same category as love and the meaning of life; the intangibles. Devoid of concrete definition, the answer to the question ‘when are we free’ relies on an individual’s cognitive perspective on the abstraction of life and where the importance lies. Through cautious observation, one can prioritize events and thoughts. This categorization results in a particular solution to the question freedom. What represents absolute freedom to one, is the paragon of mental slavery to another.
... to find anything that is free. Every aspect of life carries some sort of commitment. Freedom is not free. In order for this great ... things in life like air, freedom, life, living, love, children, marriage, jobs, and friendships. However, if we consider the meaning of free, 'without cost ...