1984 Totalitarianism Essay, Research Paper
Democratic Illusion or Totalitarian Actuality
In the classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell describes a totalitarian society in which the government has complete control over its people through means such as the widespread use of propaganda and the unfathomable power of their leaders. In the context of this discussion our world will refer to North America. Our world is not far from becoming a totalitarian society because of the circumstances that make our realm similar to 1984. In both worlds, our channels of information are controlled, our day-to-day activities are monitored, and our rights and freedoms are restricted.
Nineteen Eighty-four s government named Big Brother controls all forms of information much like how our channels of information are controlled. By doing this our dominators hold more power over society. There are media barons that exist in our world who are very similar to Big Brother, and this small group of people control what the rest of us get to hear, read, or watch. These few individuals have an incalculable influence in many lives. The purpose of controlling the flow of information is to gain power over the population.
Knowing that political leaders seek control over us should not surprise us, for governments this is an evolutionary thing, and it has only one direction to evolve: towards more control (Slave 1999).
By deluding the populace into hearing what they want to believe, the masters are able to maintain their control over us. Some examples of this would be to allow persons to believe that they have the freedom to express themselves or that they live in a democratic society where everyone is equal to everyone else. These ideals are an illusion created so as to provide a domain stable enough to rule. Nineteen Eighty-four s Big Brother also feeds their own ideals to their society to control their nation named Oceania . They deliver thoughts of hate and anti-sexuality to also create stability in their country and to render its population manageable. Nonetheless, most people in 1984 are aware that an immoral government manipulates them, but fewer people in our world are truly aware that they are controlled in this manner. Entertaining the notion that the Illuminati of this world are capable of disguising this secret more carefully, they must be more powerful than Big Brother. If they do have this much power it must have come from somewhere and that would be the people. Our government s capacity to control us is underestimated and should be more carefully observed.
The information of our day to day activities and transactions are monitored similarly to 1984. The recording of our daily actions is an infringement of our privacy. The devices used in 1984 to monitor its citizens are the always-present telescreen , these devices are used to monitor the conduct of its people. They also use these devices for other purposes such as the spreading of propaganda.
The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard (Orwell 1948; 4)
While Big Brother uses a very direct method of overseeing its people, our world uses many indirect methods, such as social insurance records from government sources and credit records from lending institutions. These records can hold all the important facts about peoples lives. The reasons why omniscient governments like Big Brother or our dictators have all of this important information is unknown to its citizens, but information is power and at some future date it can be used against its people. To follow a person s life so closely without their consent is a violation of their rights and individual liberties. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure (Smyth, 1998; 27). When something almighty such as our government begins to possess all the information of our lives, they begin their first steps towards regulating our actions. Modern technology is great, however in the wrong hands it can be a dangerous weapon of mass destruction, and worse yet, mass control (Caminiti 1996; 1). When the government begins to deceive its citizens we are no longer a democratic society.
While rights and freedoms in our society and in Nineteen Eighty-four exist, they are not respected as a result of a dominating totalitarian state. The citizens of Oceania had their rights and freedoms taken away from them by creating laws against Thoughtcrime and Treason. Thoughtcrimes are any ideas one might have that renounce the unflawed Big Brother image.
Winston demonstrates a curious dualism in his thinking: he recognizes that he is guilty of thoughtcrime and that thoughtcrime is death, but at the same time he assumes that he is so far undetected (Fairclough, 1970; 17).
In our society we have the political freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and association. However, these ideals which are guaranteed to us by our constitution are not always protected. Sometimes they are trampled over by the very people who should help us in defending them, the government. When former president Suharto of Indonesia came to Canada for the APEC summit, peaceful student protestors were attacked and pepper sprayed by RCMP officers. Many people suspect that Prime Minister Jean Chretien may have had some influence in this course of action. This police response jeopardized the rights of ordinary citizens and showed the hypocritical characteristics of the government. There are issues involving our trade dealings with other countries that have a history of human rights violations such as China, where even with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms we still condone trade with corrupt nations. One must inquire as to why we even have the Charter. It is only there to let the populace believe in the illusion, so that the people will remain loyal citizens. The citizens of Oceania and the citizens of our world should all be treated equally, but this is not true since there is obviously a division of classes. In 1984 they are the Inner Party, Outer Party and the Proles, however in our world the classes are not as well defined as in 1984, but upper, middle, and lower classses can be loosely identified. Another right that is subverted by our dominators is the freedom of the press. Reporters are supposed to cover the issues of the day and the news as it happens. However, in reality the editors decide upon what is newsworthy in each edition, and they cannot be completely free from interference as they receive their employment from the media barons who own all the newspapers and television and radio stations. The rights and freedoms that we believe we possess are just as empty as the promises Big Brother holds for its own citizens making us a Totalitarian Society.
Our Democratic Illusion is truly a Totalitarian Reality where a few individuals who own a high concentration of media manipulate what we are allowed to know about. The exploitation of our media by those individuals should not be tolerated anymore, but it may already be too late to cease the utilization of our channels of information in this manner. Much like the world of Nineteen Eighty-four it is too late for those citizens to fight their own media barons, the Party . Peoples history and information are recorded and used for any purposes the government or corporations desire. This invasion of our privacy is an offense to our rights and individual liberties, similar to Big Brother s reprehensible method of repressing its citizens. Rights and freedoms are trampled over by the leaders we trust to enforce them, which clearly shows the governments hypocritical view of our rights. Our freedom only exists as an illusion, so our leaders can control us, this is the same as Oceania s method of using propaganda to maintain stability in their country. The possibility that our world becomes totalitarian seems less fictional with each passing day, writers like George Orwell make us aware that this reality is coming true.