-Dan Tudorica (A2)
1984: A book, I think, centered on the corruption of benevolent ideas, the perversion of once noble concepts. In the book, the decadence of the former upper class (which I assume was taken right out of real life) is elaborated upon. In that time of depression, sadness and poverty, ingsoc (Newspeak English Socialism) must have been a ray of light to the poor, fetid masses. Very likely, any revolution that had occurred had been supported by the lower class. Why then, is the lot of the lower class almost completely unchanged? When asked about the past, an old prole simply remarks that the alcohol was of better quality. Which begs the question, why has nothing changed for the proles? Surely, after a socialist revolution there would be massive economic changes, changes which should have greatly affected the proles. In the first 4th of the book, there are many questions raised regarding the world in which Winston Smith lives: How did such a world come about, why are the proles unaffected, how did there come to be only 3 countries in the whole world. 1984, being a George Orwell novel, will likely only offer hints towards the answers. Going back to the theme of corruption, all the “security measure” present have been put into place, it seems in order to preserve society as it stands, and eliminate any dissidents. To our individualistic culture and minds, this is horrible, a tragedy, an affront to nature. But what of the minds of the people who live in the society of 1984? They seem to be perfectly happy with what we call oppression, and seem to not have any issue with what we view as mass conformism. When first approaching 1984, we view The Party, the ruling government as tyrannical and dictatorial, turning the people into unthinking slaves. However, for a revolution to happen, would it not have to have the support of the people? Asides from the evident indoctrination, could there have been a time when The Party was supported by the people? Therein lies the tragedy of any government controlled by some form of majority rule: The people can be easily deceived. This is evident in how Big Brother managed to vilify Goldstein, how he managed to redirect the hate of the people from where it belongs (the government) to a scapegoat. But surely, someone would eventually notice the obvious discrepancies, despite the ideological editing of history, the lies that are fed to the people daily? Surely, the far-fetched fibs would fool no one? This is the case, or at least it would be in our society. The only reason I can find for the public to accept these lies is if they wish to believe them, if within themselves they wish that that The Party was all it boasted to be.
This also begs another question: How can any self-respecting human being allow, much less want this to happen? It would seem that such a thought as a people wanting to be deceived is far too extreme to be realistic. We must keep in mind, however, the cultural extremes within our own existence. Take, for example, the feudal Japanese. Their society was one based upon war, killing, and suicide. Matters of honor would be resolved through fights to the death, suicide was glorified as a holy and desirable thing, and the peasants, who would be forced into war, who would have their villages pillaged and their fields razed, were completely fine with the state of affairs. Surely, such a society, one that actually existed, is no more extreme than the case of 1984. There are only two connections that I could make between these two very different nations: Culture and Militancy.
Culture dictates what is right and wrong in society, in a way, it sets the guidelines for living, as well as the guidelines for morals. It is hard for us Americans to think that any of our convictions, opinions, or even our thoughts be dictated by our culture. And yet, we have seen that as a culture glorifies killing, it becomes acceptable in society. It only follows logically, then, that a society that values obedience would have an obedient populace. The second shared trait between Japan and the country in question in 1984 is militancy. Government is created for the benefit of the people, and left unmolested the government would work for the betterment of the people, because, what else would it do with all its assets? War negates this; a country that is in a perpetual state of warfare does not have to care for its citizens, as war is a more than valid excuse for shirking civic improvement. In this manner, there is no push for liberty, no need to increase transparency. Why, after all, should we spend money on improving quality of life when there’s a war going on? A state of almost continues warfare also achieves another thing: lionization of the warrior class. Even to this day, the samurai is seen as the symbol of the feudal era in Japan. Boris Pasternak once said that the main thing wrong with the early Soviet Union was that all that brave men died during World War I. Society lionizes warfare, and so the young men, the same young men who would lead any prospective revolutions, ship themselves off to war., making revolution an impossibility.
George Orwell paints a seemingly alien picture with 1984, one warning against mass conformity. The critics among us would scoff, say that there is no danger, that our great human morals would prepare, when in reality, parallels of 1984 have already happened.