“The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. When once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel, what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference. Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again. You were lifted clean out of the stream of history. And yet to the people of only two generations ago, this would not have seemed all-important, because they were not attempting to alter history. They were governed by private loyalties which they did not question. What mattered were individual relationships, and a completely helpless gesture, an embrace, a tear, a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in itself. The proles, it suddenly occurred to him, had remained in this condition. They were loyal to one another. For the first time in his life he did not despise the proles or think of them merely as an inert force which would one day spring to life and regenerate the world. The proles had stayed human. They had not become hardened inside.”
~1984, George Orwell
(ok disclaimer: I am incapable of deciding whether I’ve spoiled anything major for readers if ya’ll continue reading this blog post. I provided a vague and general gist of what’s going to happen in the book so if you don’t mind such vague and indirect spoilers, go on but if you are strictly a no-no for spoilers of any kind, just stop reading HAHA)
1984 is one of my favourite classics of all time. I first read this book in sec4 when my history teacher recommended me this book and now, I finished reading it for the second time. 1984 is a brilliantly crafted story about Winston Smith who lives under the authority of the Party, a governmental organization who administers fear and indoctrination to establish a blind loyalty so that they will remain in power eternally. It is a terrifying dystopian and negative utopian book, one that speaks of Big Brother, a seemingly omnipotent leader who is watching every single movement and thought of yours.
George Orwell created this horrific world where the government is able to watch your every move, scrutinize your every action, and detect every single astray thought (thoughtcrime, they call it) such that the individuals living under their rule are filled with a sense of utmost fear and complete loyalty that extends to stupidity and extreme naivety, because their capacity to question, to think, to feel a sense of disillusionment is completely eradicated. How would you feel when all your freedom – freedom to do whatever you like, freedom to say whatever you like, freedom to think your own thoughts – are stripped away from you? Scary isn’t it?
But that’s not the horrifying part yet. You see, in history I learnt about all kinds of indoctrination and propaganda the Nazis and Stalin used in order to remain in power and to establish complete authority. Stalin purged his political opponents and anyone else – doctors, lawyers, engineers – who is capable of intellectual thought and influence so that he would not be easily overthrown. Hitler used a powerful tool – education – to brainwash the minds of children and youths so that they would only see the good and mighty in Hitler, to readily give up their lives for their country because the welfare of their country comes first before the welfare of their own and to blatantly ignore the inhumane things he has done.
But 1984 struck me more than what Hitler and Stalin had done. You see, the Ministry of Love is capable of altering emotions, such that one is incapable to feel love and affection and other humanly emotions for other individuals. Instead, all those love and admiration is being channeled to the Party, such that individuals are only capable of loving the Party, and nothing else or nobody else, and this thus establishes the said complete and blind loyalty from its people. And that to me, is the most terrifying bit of this book.
This (I hope) provides a gist to the political and emotional climate of the story. The ending of 1984 was what really scared me the most precisely because of what I mentioned just earlier. They are capable of transforming the most rebellious of hearts and the most disillusioned of minds into brainless adherents and conformists of the Party.
1984 is a definite must-read for practically everybody who loves politics, dystopia and governments. Do yourself a favour, and let your mind be opened by the terrible prospect that such a world, though fictional, may stand a chance of existing in today’s modern world, what with the sophisticated surveillance technology that has been introduced today….