1984, is a novel written by George Orwell. The novel predicts a negative utopia of a totalitarian society, which makes use of terror and an authoritarian bureaucracy to exert power over its citizens. The novel has been widely used in academic institutions in an attempt to educate the youth on the dangers of totalitarian communism.
It was used during the Cold War to fight against communism and this has made Orwell to be commemorated by many people as an opponent of the Red Menace. The question on how Orwell’s1984 illuminates the social realities in today’s world has been posed repeatedly. This paper will discuss the aspects of human nature that George Orwell criticizes in his work 1984 compared to today’s world (Orwell, 2002).
The aspects of human nature that George Orwell criticizes in his work 1984 compared to today’s world
Orwell in the novel 1984 represents the modern society be it capitalist or communist. Just like the present world, the nation described in the novel had a police force and an administrative body. According to the novel, when a leader gains absolute control over a nation, he/she becomes corrupted and this is evident in today’s world (Orwell, 2002).
Orwell in the novel 1984 criticizes Stalinism as a form of state communism where the government controls all aspects of its citizen’s life. Orwell in the book criticizes Stalinism with the political leader of his predicted society being represented by Stalin and the nation’s enemy being represented by Trotsky.
The world of 1984 is an example of today’s world that is full of political tribunals, torture-extracted declarations of guilt, secret police force, and labor camps. Orwell criticizes this form of government by stating that it leads to lack of freedom, human rights, and social inequality which results to a depressing life with no diversity.
The community in 1984 is totalitarian with a federal party state that controls all aspects of the people’s life from labor, to customs, to thought, to verbal communication and finally sexuality. This is similar to today’s world whereby bureaucracy produces a tyrannical structure in which one group of persons, that is, the government dominates the others (Orwell, 2002).
Another aspect of human nature that Orwell criticizes in 1984 is the fact that leaders have power over the media. The novel starts with evocations stating, “Big brother is watching you,” (Orwell 6), after which it puts the reader into a cruel environment where television sets are used as surveillance tools by broadcasting only government related issues. Orwell critics this behavior by stating that televisions are central entertainment instruments at home and should not be used as instruments of government propaganda and social manipulation.
The media in Orwell’s 1984 is instrumental in advancing government propaganda and is thus an instrument of surveillance and fear. For instance, in Orwell’s 1984, the government controls television sets by making sure that they have only one channel, and cannot be switched off. Orwell states that “the great majority of the people did not even have telescreens in their homes” (Orwell 77) and this underrates the ubiquity of television screens and their role in recreation, and indoctrination in today’s world.
The role of the media in Orwell’s 1984 is thus different from today’s world where the media functions in privatizing, serializing, and ensuring safety of citizens in their homes. Television watching in today’s world protects persons from political issues while at the same time shaping their contemplations and behaviors. This in 1984, however, disturbs individuals and deprives them of their privacy (Widmann, 2002).
Lust for power is an aspect of human nature criticized by Orwell in his work 1984. This is seen in the sentence “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power….We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing….We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” (Orwell 217).
Orwell illustrates how lust for power inspires party bureaucrats and how they make use of this power to put down anyone who goes up against their interests. At this point, the reader gets a powerful vision of disloyalty by a new class of people, which is similar to today’s world. To communicate this notion to the people, Orwell uses several literary techniques showing state power and fear (Widmann, 2002).
Orwell’s 1984 book is applied in today’s world to refer to quasi-fascist and authoritarian regimes in the United States, Latin America, and Africa. The brutality of leaders in becoming the most authoritative and evil dictators weakens a nation. For instance, in Orwell’s 1984, leaders use brute force in making their citizens to follow them. According to them “Power is not a means; it is an end.
One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship” (Orwell 218). This is similar to what is happening in today’s world where citizens are afraid of speaking out their minds and leaders end up becoming dictators. This is also evident in communist states where the citizens live in fear of their government and therefore cannot make any utterances against the government (Orwell, 2003).
Orwell in his work equates bureaucracy within totalitarian nations to political oppression and exploitation. He says that transition to a federal economy is inevitable though it concentrates power in the hands of the government.
According to Orwell, a centralized government means more authority and control by the state bureaucracy, which is evident in today’s world. I agree to issues such as Stalinism, lust for power, corrupt leadership, inequality, and dictatorship as brought out in this novel since they are relevant in today’s world (George, 2002).
Similar issues in today’s society that should be reformed
Based on my opinion, the above issues can be reformed in today’s society. Stalinism, corrupt leadership, and lust for power can be reformed by electing sincere leaders. Support from the society is, however, very important in eliminating Stalinism and corrupt leadership and a cross party political consent should be encouraged. Dictatorship, on the other hand, can be reformed by transferring or sharing supremacy with others. The judiciary should check on the excesses of the ruling class to help solve inequality issues.
Orwell in his book 1984, talks of totalitarianism, and the evils associated with this type of rule. He is considered a critic of suppressive socio-economic structures by providing strong condemnations against this type of rule. He further gives warnings concerning what might happen if such trends are adopted in the future.
George Orwell. “Work: Summaries & Interpretations: Nineteen Eighty-Four.” 20 Nov. 2002. 4 Nov. 2011. < http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/index.cgi/work/summaries/1984.html >.
Orwell, George. “Pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair.” Books and Writers. 29 Oct. 2002. 4 Nov. 2011
Orwell, George. “1984.” Life Research Universal. 2003. 4 Nov. 2011
Orwell, George. 1984. London: Paw Prints, 2008. Print.
Widmann, Richard, and George, Orwell. “Thought Crimes Archive.” 29 Oct. 2002. 4 Nov. 2011