Orwell’s dystopian society in which they lived.

Orwell’s
1984 describes a totalitarian government and methods used by them to gain
control of the populace. I am going to discuss how 1984 describes populace of
the Outer Party and the Proles helped to maintain the dystopian society in
which they lived. I would also talk about what Slouka, Atkinsson and Marquez would
suggest on how to avoid these problems. Orwell’s book largely describes the
great divide between the inner party members and others. The others consist of
Proles and the Outer Party members. The inner party members live a life of
luxury whereas the others suffer in poverty. How do these people maintain the
dystopian society? The populace of the outer party are kept constantly under
watch by installing telescreens in their houses. There were also police patrols
snooping into people’s windows. Their thoughts are monitored too by the
Thoughtpolice. Every aspect of their lives are always watched. They are
actually helpless to get out of their situation. Even a thought of rebellion would
get caught by the thoughtpolice and then they die. Their death is so complete
that their records are erased too. Sometimes they are released back into
society but they are changed people, their spirit broken and their loyalty is
only and only to Big Brother. The proles live in utter poverty. They function
to work and procreate. The party keeps them in check by providing them
entertainment in the form of songs, novels and pornography, written by
machines. The thoughtpolice do keep an eye on them. Any individual they
consider problematic is taken care of by them permanently. This way the Party’s
hold on the others is complete. (Orwell, 2008/1949).

 

Mark Slouka,
in his article “Dehumanised” writes about how Math and Science have taken precedence
over humanities studies. He states this state of neglect of humanities could
spell the demise of “Democracy” (Slouka, 2009. p. 38). Slouka clearly states
education is to teach people, not tasks; to participate in the complex and
infinitely worthwhile labor of forming citizens, men and women capable of
furthering what’s best about us and forestalling what’s worst. It is only
secondarily—one might say incidentally— about producing workers (Slouka, 2009. p.
34). Slouka states how people are going more towards a totalitarian regime by
skipping humanities altogether. He clearly understands how important it is that
we have humanities as one of the major subjects as well. “This “deep” civic function of the humanities, not easily reducible to
the politics of left or right but politically combustible nonetheless, is
something understood very well by totalitarian societies, which tend to keep
close tabs on them, and to circumscribe them in direct proportion to how
stringently the population is controlled. This should neither surprise nor comfort
us. Why would a repressive regime support a force superbly designed to resist
it? Rein in the humanities effectively enough—whether through active repression,
fiscal starvation, or linguistic marginalization— and you create a space, an
opportunity. Dogma adores a vacuum.” (Slouka, 2009. p. 38). Slouka’s views
are clear on this subject. To avoid a totalitarian society, include humanities as
an equal subject to math and science. To create more opportunities for Arts and
Humanities. It is equally important today to have clear thinking and thereby
have, perhaps, some political efficacy. These traits are strengthened by
studying Arts and Humanities. It broadens our mind to issues going on in today’s
society. It helps people understand “democracy”. If kids today learn to think
clearly at a younger age, it is easier for them to understand that the world
tomorrow. It would be far easier to avoid a totalitarian government with more
understanding and clear thinking youth as opposed to Math and Science brains
which might not be as wise. “In a visible
world, the invisible does not compute; in a corporate culture, hypnotized by
quarterly results and profit margins, the gradual sifting of political
sentiment is of no value; in a horizontal world of “information” readily
convertible to product, the verticality of wisdom has no place.” (Slouka,
2009. p. 32). His message is clear to avoid a future like in “1984” create more
opportunities for Arts and Humanities. Pave a way for wiser youth over just creating
employees.

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For a
Totalitarian regime to work efficiently one of their major tool is media. Media
is consumed by the population in print form or TV’s or Radio’s. It is a very
powerful tool to have to manipulate the masses. In Orwell’s “1984”, the
character Winston’s job was, in the Record’s Department of the Ministry of
Truth. His main job was to change history as per his party’s needs. “As soon as all the corrections which
happened to be necessary in any particular number of ‘The Times’ had been
assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy
destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This
process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to
books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks,
cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which
might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.” (Orwell,
2008/1949. p. 42-43). This shows in Orwell’s “1984” all news was manipulated
and changed as per the requirement of the day. People who did not exist were
added into the records. For example, Winston creates a war hero, Captain
Ogilvy, who has led an “ideal” life and was killed in battle to be
published as news. The whole purpose is to encourage people to live as per Big
Brother’s ideal. In the Video Attkisson, S. (2015), Ali Velshi a well-known
journalist states how news in today’s world is spread. He states how political
parties can and do manipulate news. His example is, how 17 different US
Intelligence Agencies believed that Russia hacked into the Presidential Elections
with the aim to support Donald Trump. But as it happens the president did not
believe it and neither did 80% of his followers. On the other hand, there was a
rumor that Hilary Clinton was running a child sex slavery ring out of the basement
of a suburban DC pizza parlor, 50% of Trump’s followers believed it. There was
one guy who went in armed and shot 3 bullets. He was honestly surprised to see
no slave ring and not even a basement. The point is the power a political party
has to substantiate a news whether true or not. Ali Velshi’s suggestion to
avoid succumbing to fake news on media, is to check the veracity of news and to
not just take it at face value. He suggests to trust mainstream media more than
an unverified source. Verify with atleast two sources who state the same thing.
Or one source which is highly placed. We should not spread any news before
verifying it. One of the ways in which a totalitarian government can be avoided
is for the masses to be very aware of news being spread, do not spread
something which you feel is right or are not aware is a fake. Cross reference
all news before you spread it. Be vigilant. (Attkisson, S. 2015).

“A very old
man with enormous wings” is a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His story
is about an old man who washed up to the beach where Pelayo lived. The frail
old man was different because he had wings. He was treated like a circus freak.
The village people and all the people who came to see him from far away
considered him a freak and had absolute no compassion towards him. He spoke a
language which the priest Father Gonzaga did not understand. The Father then
thought he was much too human and did not understand Latin (which is considered
the language of god). According to the Father’s understanding the old man
failed to measure up the angel’s proud dignity. (Marquez, G.G, 1955) A preconceived
notion about people is what creates differences among us. A totalitarian regime
would seek out people who are of a different race than what is considered pure,
different skin color, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc. and create a
divide. Wars are started, people are killed in every part of the world because
of any of the above reasons. Hate is spreading. Today people think it is okay
to bully someone who is different. They lack empathy.  Marquez would suggest to stop spreading hate
because someone looks different or speaks a different dialect does not mean
they are not living creatures. They deserve respect and above all compassion. If
we as a race of human beings would stop hate and spread love, war wouldn’t
happen. Whatever be our sex, race, color, national origin or religion we are
all humans. We need to respect life. In Marquez’s story a single story about an
angel was believed where they are gorgeous, majestic beings. No one was willing
to look beyond that single story. Same way today people believe “All Muslims
are Terrorists”. No one wants to examine these words. It creates fear to think
an entire religion could be terrorists in disguise. Marquez would suggests look
beyond the single story, it is not feasible that every Muslim man woman and
child is a terrorist. Do not commit murder because something scares you. Marquez’s
suggestion would be if every human being would view the world with compassion
and love there would be no room for hate or war or destruction. There would not
be a totalitarian government in power brain washing people and spreading hate.  

After
reading “1984” today’s world unnerves me. We are heading exactly towards a
future which does look a lot like “1984”. We must work collectively to avoid
exactly that. Our freedom must be guarded. “Freedom of speech” and “Freedom of
thought” are essential to our existence as a free people. There is a saying “Absolute
power corrupts” therefore no party should hold that absolute power and hence democracy
is as important. We should have the freedom to question our leaders on right
and wrong. We need to verify all news that is given to us rather than spread
fear and hate because of lies told to us by those in power. Leaders should be
held accountable. People should not live in fear if they do not conform to a
certain religion, color, race or gender. In today’s world where social media is
at the very center of our lives, it is very easy to spread hate at the click of
a button. It is becoming far easier for political parties to manipulate people
through fake news stories. We need to be vigilant. Compassion begets equality
among people. It is very important in a democratic society that there be equality.
No political party can rule over people who are all equals and unanimous. We
should not be afraid of the ruling party. We should all feel empowered in the
lives we live. In summation, today were are not that far from going into a
totalitarian society. We are bogged down by our own insecurities about terrorism
and war. We need to apply the above suggestions as a society to avoid
succumbing to our fears and give-in to any ruling party control over our lives.