BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU
don't mind us,
we are merely here;
for your protection.
i've been in a pessimistic mood lately, border-line sanity, but not quite there. while finishing the final chapters of 1984, i've grown more disgusted toward politics, and the undeniable corruption that accompanies it. in 1984, the protagonist, Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party. think of it as, the "middle class." Winston works for the Ministry of Truth (ironic) as an editor for the history books, and revises it daily in accord to the Party's orthodox. think of this era as a post-capitalistic society, for a lack of a better word. & Big Brother is always watching you. through the trillion-plus "telescreens" festering around Oceania, the "thought police" attempt to manipulate it's own citizen's thoughts. you cannot hide an ounce of contempt, curiosity, nor intelligence in Oceania. they will find out, for you are always under their surveillance. the Party makes sure that no one goes against grain. there is no escaping it's lethal grip. the Party owns your soul. one day, Winston begins to question the known reality of Oceania, the Party, and Big Brother himself.
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
is the Party's slogan. Winston wants to remember what happened before the Revolution. it is common knowledge that Big Brother had saved Oceania from the counterrevolutionaries led by Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. they too had been "vanished," and "no one who had once fallen into the hands of the Thought Police ever escaped in the end. They were corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave." i nearly got chills after reading this line. to envision a society where freedom and humanity becomes nonexistent, and individualism is equivalent to the death sentence is quite dark and grim. but that is the reality in Winston's life. some random fact: 1984 was published back in 1949, merely four years after the second world war. in the story Winston makes a reference to his youth during the Atomic Wars between 1949 and 1953..
phew, looks like were still here.
maybe it already happened, and we just don't even know it yet.
as Winston explores deeper into Oceania's darkest secrets, flirts with the criminal idea of romance with Julia, and gets one step closer to the fabricated rebels known as the "Brotherhood," he spins helplessly in the Party's intricately woven web; unaware of his own impending demise. suffice it to say, the Party has a way to "fix" such "abnormalities." that is through torture, and Room 101. the last few chapters are vile, demoralizing, and gut-wrenching. i have warned you, and i will not disclose any further information revealing the final chapters of this book, but i will leave you with this bit from the Afterward, written by Erich Fromm:
"The 'negative utopias' express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self-confidence and hope of the medieval man. There could be nothing more paradoxical in historical terms than this change: man, at the beginning of the industrial age, when in reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production, nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it... It is the essential point of all the three negative utopias not only to describe the future toward which we are moving, but also to explain this historical paradox."
he then asks a question:
"It is: can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love - that is to say, can man forget that he is human?"
his concept on war:
"... he(Orwell) shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function..." (sound familiar?) "Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents. Orwell's picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a "stable" deterrent. This soothing picture ignores the fact that with increasing technical "progress," the whole society will be forced to live underground, but that the destructive strength of thermonuclear bombs will always remain greater than the depth of the caves, that the military will become dominant (in fact, if not in law), that fright and hatred of a possible aggressor will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society. In other words, the continued arms race, even if it would not lead to the destruction of any of those qualities of our society which can be called "democratic," "free," or "in the American tradition."
"I am sure that neither Orwell nor Huxley or Zamyatin wanted to insist that this world of insanity is bound to come. On the contrary, it was quite obviously their intention to sound a warning by showing where we are headed for unless we succeed in a renaissance of the spirit of humanism and dignity which is at the very roots of Occidental culture... Orwell is not a prophet of disaster, he wants to warn and to awaken us. He still hopes - but in contrast to writers of the utopias in the earlier phases of Western society, his hope is a desperate one. The hope can be realized only by recognizing, so 1984 teaches us, the danger with which all men are confronted today, the danger of a society of automatons who will have lost every trace of individuality, of love, of critical thought, and yet who will not be aware of it because of "doublethink."
and i digress,
i am a firm believer in peace, and though peace may have it's own inherent dangers, we cannot forget what history is constantly teaching us. it is imperative that we do not forget our ancestral legacies, nor the common bonds that we hold together as humans on this planet. if you look at ANY era in history, social hierarchy has been firmly rooted in it. to a certain degree it is almost necessary. there are the few elites, a small percentage encompassing the "middle" class, and finally everyone else. like most people, i fall into the "everyone else" category - but that's not my point. if you want to uproot the system, you can. if you want to move up the social hierarchy ladder, you can. however. you can not deny this maxim: human beings are generally self-interested, and lack mutualism (think acacia's and ants, and why communism was a failure, albeit a good idea at the time). therefore, if you do uproot the system, what next? political AND economic equality? to me that's a bit too far-fetched. civilizations before have never granted such luxuries to the common man. & THAT is humanity's greatest failure. we are like any other eukaryotic animalia - driven by our own sex instinct, and our need to survive.
just some food for thought.
Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!
*edit 29, jan 2010
it is important to remember when reviewing a novel, you cannot neglect the time period in which it was written. i doubt that any of us could imagine how life was in the early-mid nineteen hundreds. imagine living in an environment where bombs were dropped effortlessly, like salt from it's shaker. & today, we're too busy keeping up the with latest fashion trends, the newest gadgets, and ourselves that we rarely take a second to critically think about the real human condition...