Aspects of Totalitarianism Present in 1984
Good Morning/ Afternoon Mr. Corfield and fellow classmates
Welcome to today’s seminar in our series on George Orwell’s landmark science fiction novel 1984.
In today’s discussion, the thesis I will put to you is that the Totalitarianism regime established by Orwell in 1984 is a regime that controls and forces the people to conform to their will. Orwell’s construction of this regime was largely influenced by other regimes of the era. My 4 arguments that I will explain to you today are:
1) Point 1- How does totalitarianism structure in 1984 work (describe)
2) Point 2- What influenced Orwell to write the Novel- Hitler, Stalin
3) Point 3- How does the regime work?
4) Point 4- How does it control people? (Novel)
The theme of totalitarianism is a prominent theme in this 20th century novel. 1984 by Orwell features a futuristic dictatorship where humanity is controlled by the government. In Oceania, The Party is the ruling assembly, whose head is Big Brother, that controls all aspects of human life, from action to thought. big brother employs a vast army of informers, called the Thought Police, who monitor the people of Oceania and use devices such as telescreens to detect possible signs of unorthodoxy towards Big Brother and The Party. “Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable.
Attention getter: Have you watched the news lately? Even if you haven't, you still probably have heard something about the disputes in and around Jerusalem. These disputes have been going on for centuries. Many different groups of people have fought to control Jerusalem over the years but we are going to focus on the current majority parties from today. From the information I found on CNN. com and ...
Totalitarianism is defined as a political system of government in which those in power have complete control and do not allow people to oppose them. Those in power are a single party dictatorship in which one party controls state, and all other parties are forbidden. Other important features that distinguish or help define totalitarianism include restricted or eliminated constitutional rights, state terrorism, and totalitarian rulers are known as ideological dictators. The government of Oceania, in the novel 1984, is an example of totalitarian society. Germany, under Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism and Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin are examples of totalitarianism, two of the best known totalitarian leaders. Orwell’s Oceania has both similarities and differences to the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. The government of Oceania is clearly a totalitarian state, which compares and contrasts with Hitler’s National Socialism.
Orwell writes a novel that illustrates the sequence of and demonstrates the concepts of what was going on in Russia under Joseph Stalin during the 1900’s. Between 1917 and 1991, Russia was undergoing a great revolution. During this time two men, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, fought for power and control of the country. Stalin eventually eliminated Trotsky. Stalin believed he was doing what was right for the people through a communist government. However, communism in practice is not as good as in theory. According to The Literature Network, “The system is good, but the individuals are corruptible”. Stalin becomes extremely dictatorial of his new ineffective, inefficient government.
So, the Thought Police are the people hired by the government to monitor all of the screens, and to hunt down and find anyone who has committed crimes against the party. Those crimes are speaking out, not participating in activities, appearing to not enjoy Party activities, and even thinking badly about activities. For example, it might be crime to stand up and shout, “Down with Big Brother”; in their society, it is a crime to even think it.
How do they monitor thoughts? Well, sometimes when you are sleeping, you talk in your sleep, and those words reflect your inner thoughts. Sometimes, you might hesitate before chanting a Party ritual. Sometimes, you might not be yelling out hatred during the set-aside Hate times during the day. Any hesitation, any apparent lack of enthusiasm or patriotism, is considered Thought crime, because it indicates that your thoughts are rebellious, that in your head and heart you aren’t loyal to the Party. So, the Thought Police punish you not only for blatant crimes, but subtle things too, labelled as Thought crimes.
In the world of 1984, Winston rebels against the party, but not only does he do it in a different ways but his displeasure with the society leads him on to rebel numerous times. First of all, Winston has committed a thought crime, a crime which is used to prevent the individual from thinking and the penalty for committing a thought crime was death (so he thought). Winston knew he was guilty for ...
This view that thought can be a crime is shared by my totalitarian societies; Stalin is thought to have had 20 million of his own people killed, many of them on suspicion of thoughts against the state. It’s pretty easy to control people if they know their neighbour disappeared last night for what he/she thought.
It’s a pretty scary situation, and one that stresses Winston out. He is always worried that the Thought Police are going to know that he hates the party, and come after him.
“People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.”
– George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 1
In today’s society there is a comparison between now and 1984 with regards to telescreens. In 1984, Telescreens were placed in all public and private places, so the population could be watched to prevent thought crime. Today’s world, Surveillance cameras in most buildings and in some public streets (operated by police) to prevent crime. Although most of these cameras are operated by private businesses instead of our intrusive government, the end result is the same.
You may be wondering what a telescreens? Well the telescreens is a propaganda tool used by the state (“Big Brother”) to get into people’s heads and control them. They are television and security camera-like devices used by the ruling Party in Oceania to keep its subjects under constant surveillance, thus eliminating the chance of secret conspiracies against Oceania. All members of the Inner Party and Outer Party and a few proletarian settings have telescreens. It also monitors everyone’s actions and speech, completely controlling every aspect of human existence. These telescreens are everywhere – there is no escaping them in this horrible society Orwell has shown us.
Olympus was not shaken by winds nor ever wet with rain, nor did snow fall upon it but the air is outspread clear and clouds and over it hovered a radiant whiteness” With these words, Homer described the overwhelming nature of the mount Olympus. It was the dwelling place of victors and champions, a home for the Olympians. A place for the most powerful. In Rivers politics, there is no inkling of a ...
Propaganda in the novel stood out when there were posters of Big Brother EVERYWHERE. It was like he really was watching you everywhere you went. There were also posters of Emmanuel Goldstein. An example is like the incident when, during a speech Oceania changed allegiances. By simply changing the posters and banners the Party convinced people that the situation had always been that way. The propaganda kept everyone believing that big brother was always watching, so you never broke outside of the box to show emotions. The Government knew best.
Quote: “The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. … War is Peace.” – George Orwell, 1984, Book 1,
Hitler had always hated Jew’s even before he came to power. During WWI when he was a solider he was said to have lost a verbal fight with a Jewish solider causing some of the hate and at the time leading to great embarrassment for Hitler. At the time of Hitler’s rise of power Germany was suffering the after affects of the Treaty Of Versailles. In a country that had been under the Treaty Of Versailles for 15 years people latched on to that to have someone to blame and for hopes of a better life. Hitler was a very good public speaker and persuader as well gaining more support eventually leading to his upcoming as we know killing 6 million Jewish people, also killing any homosexuals, people with disabilities mentally or physically and Gypsy’s. Jewish people were seen as an easy target. In the end Hitler hated everyone, even his own people. Unfortunately, a man with that kind of hatred in a position of power can do a lot of damage.
Orwell himself creates a conflict with totalitarianism by criticizing the ideas’ of the party, and describes the society as very dark place. In Orwell’s 1984 there are three sentences which are obviously paradoxes summing up what the party of totalitarianism stands for, and they are:
Totalitarianism is the absolute control of a ruler who is a complete dictator, unrestricted by constitution, laws or opposition. This essay will evaluate the extent to which Hitler had absolute control over Germany in terms of political control, control over the Nazi party, control over the youth and education. Hitler established single party state and achieved political control to a large extent. ...
“War is peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is strength”.
Quote: “Notice the sentence, “War is Peace”. The society in 1984 are consisted of three totalitarian ‘super states’ which are Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. All of these states are in a constant state of war with one another”. George Orwell, Book 1
Conclusion: George Orwell had deep resentment against totalitarianism and what it stood for. He saw the problem of totalitarianism in his existing world. He also understood how the problem could fester and become larger due to instability in Europe’s economy after World War II. He purposely makes the story, 1984, unrealistic and blown out of proportion to capture people’s attention and makes them think maybe it wouldn’t be unrealistic in the near future. With his deep resentment toward totalitarianism it became the focal point of his novels. George Orwell’s, novels were directed toward against totalitarianism and for Socialism and what it stood for.