Recently, in the year of the centenary of the birth of George Orwell (the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950)), news reports are increasingly accompanied by commentaries that draw analogies to the world described in the works “Animal Farm” (1945) and “1984” (1949). Many are frightened that the world, once embarked on the path of totalitarianism, gains a chance to return to it. Return to totalitarianism, backed by new technologies of the civilized world. In addition, the author himself believed that very soon the whole world would be in the grip of a totalitarian system: “… we can confidently imagine what awaits us. Wars and again wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions, Hitlers and super-Hitlers – down, down, into the abyss, where it is terrible to look … ”1.
I share these concerns and believe that one should not forget the warning that Orwell made his anti-utopias, and the truth about the regimes that prompted the writer to pessimistic views on the future. “He who rules the past rules the future; who controls the present, controls the past, ”reads the party slogan from the 1984 novel, so we must not be allowed to be deprived of the past, and then the future.
Many say that if it were not for the books 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell, the author of many other works, would probably be forgotten. Therefore, these were his main works used in this essay. Mosina V.G.’s literary monograph, “The Three Main Books of George Orwell,” allowed me to better understand the symbolism of Orwell’s works, and, therefore, to perceive his books (primarily the novel “1984”) as a kind of prophecy. The orwell thematic Internet site contains all the writer’s works, including his essay, articles and reviews, as well as criticism and reviews of his work. The rest of the Internet resources are information sites covering what is happening in the world.
As already noted, Orwell was a pessimist, and was waiting for the imminent absorption of the world by totalitarianism. Was he right in making such a prophecy? Does the world really slide into the abyss? I tried to find answers to these questions by preparing this essay.
2. Main part
“Double-mindedness means the ability to simultaneously hold two opposing beliefs. The party intellectual knows which way to change his memories; therefore, he is aware that he is cheating on reality; however, with the help of doublethink, he assures himself that reality has remained untouched. This process must be conscious, otherwise it cannot be carried out carefully, but it must also be unconscious, otherwise there will be a feeling of lies, and therefore guilt. Double-mindedness is the soul of the Angsots, since the party uses deliberate deceit, firmly holding a course towards its goal, and this requires complete honesty. Saying a deliberate lie and at the same time believing in it, forgetting any fact that has become uncomfortable, and extracting it from oblivion as soon as it is needed again, denying the existence of objective reality and taking into account the reality that you deny, is all absolutely necessary. ”
Following the principle of “doublethink” there were three party slogans:
WAR IS THE WORLD
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE – STRENGTH
War is peace
“The party has two goals: to conquer the entire globe and permanently destroy the possibility of independent thought. Therefore, she is preoccupied with two problems. The first is how, contrary to the person’s desire to find out what he thinks, and the second is how to kill several hundred million people in a few seconds, without warning. ” The principle of “doublethink” described by Orwell in the novel “1984” was clearly manifested in the coverage of the war in Iraq. The repeated statements by the participants in the capture of Iraq about the need for war could not convince the rest of mankind that it was not for democracy and peace, but for the personal interests of a narrow circle of people (the “inner party” according to Orwell). Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that “This war was not necessary … It was launched by Washington to demonstrate its power and dominance, and from those motives that most Europeans do not fully share.”
“On the sixth day of the Hate Week, after marches, speeches, screams, singing, slogans, banners, films, wax effigies, drum rolls, screeching trumpets, marching noise, clanging tank tracks, roaring squadrons and gunfire, with the final convulsions of general orgasm, when hatred got to such a boil that if the crowd caught those two thousand Eurasian war criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the event, they would certainly be torn to pieces – on that very day it was announced that Oceania was not fighting em. The war is with Ostasia. Eurasia is an ally. ” It doesn’t matter who the enemy is. The enemy is needed.
Just as an enemy was needed for Oceania (Eurasia or Ostasia), a universal enemy is imposed on the modern world – world terrorism, of course, which is a danger, but has become a kind of stamp that is used if necessary. Writer Norman Mailer said: “… Iraq was doomed. The glorious American people have gone out of their way to prove that our alleged enemy possesses nuclear weapons. At the same time, everything was done to make Saddam Hussein the main organizer of the September 11 attacks. Then it was announced that terrorists had made their nests in Iraq. None of these allegations, when scrutinized, could not withstand criticism, but it was no longer important. ” The whole world had to hate the enemy. We all remember how relations between Germany and France with the United States changed after their leaders sharply criticized the invasion of Iraq.
George W. Bush, in response to condemnations of US foreign policy, said: “At some point, we can be left completely alone. I have nothing against. We are America. ” Of the seven original commandments at the Farmyard, only one remained: “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others. ” As the American billionaire George Soros said: “The administration of US President George W. Bush has a policy that” causes allergies “in other countries, and also casts doubt on American values and the dominant role of the United States in the world.”
After September 11, the world has changed. “German journalists working in the United States never cease to be surprised at how quickly and how sharply their American colleagues forgot about the pluralism traditional for the United States, about their right to freedom of speech and voluntarily began to consider themselves the mouthpiece of the government.” Even Hollywood threw all its forces into the fight against terrorism – some actors lost their roles after speaking about the war in Iraq. Western civilization lost the enemy after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc – the “Empire of Evil” no longer existed. Today it has found a new one – in the form of global terrorism. And this war risks turning into mass purges, as it was in the United States under McCarthy, during the “witch hunt”.
“From any, even the most inconspicuous member of the party, knowledge of the matter, industriousness and even intelligence within narrow limits is required, but it is also necessary that he be a non-questioning ignorant fanatic and fear, hatred, blind worship and orgiastic enthusiasm reign in his soul. … It doesn’t matter whether the war is really going on, and since there can be no decisive victory, it doesn’t matter if things are going well at the front or bad. One thing is needed: to be at war. The awareness that the party demands from its members and which is easier to achieve in an atmosphere of war has become universal … ”
Freedom is slavery
“The television screen worked on reception and transmission. He caught every word if he was uttered in a not too quiet whisper; moreover, as long as Winston remained in the field of vision of the muddy plate, he was not only heard, but also visible. … You had to live – and you lived, by habit, which turned into instinct – with the knowledge that every word you listen to and every your movement, until the lights go out, they observe. ”
After the collapse of the World Trade Center, the US president signed the Patriotic Act, a document containing a series of measures that expand the powers of the police and federal agencies, as well as tighten banking and immigration laws.
“… Special signs began to warn readers of libraries in the US city of Santa Cruz that the FBI might be interested in information about the books they took … and the USA Patriot Act prohibits library workers from reporting if federal agents take information about you. ”
“According to the police, in many cases emergency powers cannot be dispensed with, for example, when it comes to gathering evidence by listening to telephone conversations and email monitoring.”
“These new, unchecked powers can be used against U.S. citizens who are not being investigated, against immigrants who are legally within our country,” said Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Ignorance is power
The restrictions imposed by the British government on civil rights during the war, Orwell, working as a journalist on the BBC, felt like no one else. He understood the dangers of censorship even in wartime. But he was even more afraid of the state’s attempt to encroach on freedom of thought, rather than freedom of speech. State propaganda often seeks not only to prevent the expression of undesirable opinions, but even to prevent their occurrence.
“Every day and almost every minute the past was adjusted to the present. Therefore, documents could confirm the fidelity of any prediction of the party; not a single piece of news, not a single opinion contrary to the needs of the day, existed in the recordings. History, like old parchment, was scraped clean and rewritten – as many times as needed. And there was no way to prove the fake later. ” In Oceania, the state from the novel “1984”, not only history was corrected. The state came up with “newspeak” – a new language designed to prevent “thought crime”. “Countless words, such as“ honor, ”“ justice, ”“ morality, ”“ internationalism, ”“ democracy, ”“ religion, ”“ science, ”simply ceased to exist.” All newspapers were written in this artificial language, in addition, all classical literary works, if not destroyed, were rewritten.
Today, news agencies report that “American publishers remove the words” God “,” old man “,” blind “,” barbarian “and many others from textbooks for schools and colleges for the reason that they are offensive to some readers or may simply cause they have negative emotions. ” Given this policy, one can imagine what will happen to Ernest Hemingway’s story “The Old Man and the Sea”: “The“ old man ”incorrectly indicates age, and the“ sea ”causes negative emotions in people who have never seen the sea. (The English version of the “shortcomings” in the title of the story (The Old Man and the Sea) is even greater, since the word “man” is used here). The South African Education Commission recommended that Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and King Lear and Orwell’s novel 1984 be removed from the curriculum as politically incorrect. “Anti-utopia” 1984 “was considered by experts from the educational commission to contain” an element of rebellion against the state. ” They probably have something to fear.
If party members in Oceania had to passionately hate the enemy, whether it be Eurasia or Ostasia, and wholeheartedly love the Big Brother, then the “prolam”, people of the lower class, simply had to be passive. “There was a whole system of departments involved in proletarian literature, music, drama and entertainment in general. Low-grade newspapers were made here, containing nothing but sports, criminal chronicles and astrology, and frenzied five-cent agendas. Filmmaking films, sensitive songs composed in a purely mechanical way … ” Already at that time the assembly line was emerging, which has now turned into an entertainment industry. “… Disney films are made, essentially, by the factory method, when the work is done partly mechanically, partly by teams of artists, each of which subordinates his own style to a common task. Scenarios of radio shows are usually written by worn out literary artists who are given a theme and its coverage in advance; but here, too, what comes out of their pen is just a blank, and the producers and censorship redraw it in their own way. The same is true of countless books and brochures, which are written by order of government services. The factory is even more reminiscent of the production of short stories, novels “with the sequel” and poems for cheap magazines. ”
Orwell was a socialist, like most of the intelligentsia of the first decades of the 20th century; participated in the civil war in Spain. It was in Spain that his views underwent strong changes. Remaining a socialist, he became an ardent opponent of the regimes that perverted the idea of socialism. And he felt a great danger that the capitalist states would also become totalitarian. When the Second World War ended and the two systems divided the torn, exhausted Europe, the United States remembered who their enemy was before Hitler. The Soviet Union and the United States again became enemies. The enemy is needed. The ideology of the “red threat” began: government officials, scientists, and artists were suspected of having ties with the Communists. One can imagine what would happen if the dictators of the 20th century had the technologies available now.
The enemy of Western civilization of the 21st century has become world terrorism, in fact, generated by the previous Cold War. All forces are thrown into the fight against the threat of the “axis of evil.” Using the fear of American citizens of terrorists and “rogue countries” it is possible (as time has shown, the threat of Iraq was greatly exaggerated) to pass laws that allow surveillance. The propaganda machine will do everything to convince the public of the need for action.
Just like in Animal Farm, good goals run the risk of being perverted. Humanity is getting closer to the system that George Orwell showed in the 1984 dystopia. He was not right: 1984 is long gone, and Oceania does not exist, just like Eurasia and Ostasia. Missiles do not fall on London. But if we forget Stalin, Hitler and other tyrants of the 20th century, if we forget what Orwell wrote, such a state will become a reality. And London will be the capital of Runway I, the province of Oceania.