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Two Plus Two Equals Five

“On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette Packet — everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, 27). This quote is from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The novel follows Winston Smith, a typical everyman. Winston is member of the Outer Party, he works in the Ministry of Truth and his job, ironically, is to create the “truth”. The Party is the government of Oceania and is divided into three separate categories: the proles, who make up the majority of the population, the outer party, a middle class that includes Winston, and the Inner Party, the upper class, almost like the 1%. But Winston begins to ask himself the simple question, “Was life better before the Revolution than it is now?” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, 93). But Winston, who helps create Oceania’s current truth, can no longer remember what has happened and what hasn’t. It is through this grand confusion that the masses are able to continue being controlled by their government and this type of control, past, present, and future, will be analyzed in this essay. Right after World War II, there was “a continuing sense of a loss of nation prestige and an acute anxiety over the future of both the city and modern British society” (Phillips, 69) and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was the voice in the silence. In the novel, a typical lunch might be Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes with a “metal pannikin of pinkish-gray stew, a hunk of bread, a cube of cheese, a mug of milkless Victory Coffee, and one

saccharine tablet” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, 50). “As unappealing as this life may sound, it is in fact a fairly accurate representation of the standard of living in Britain at the time the novel was written” (Moss, 256-257). “The war had cost a quarter of the nation’s wealth, and for several years afterward life in postwar Britain was dismal. Basic goods and services were limited. Certain foods and industrial products were rationed, and in the winter of 1946-1947 fuel shortages were so severe that the government was forced to impose drastic rations on the use of power for both industrial and private consumers” (Moss, 257). Orwell had set his dystopia in an even more decayed version of London than this (Phillips, 70). Through remembrances for the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” and the underground railway, Orwell practices “the manipulation of a nostalgia in relation to wartime London” (Phillips, 70). Part of Orwell’s frustration might have been due to Britain’s alliance with the Soviet Union during the war. Orwell contributed to some of the British government’s propaganda and , from 1939 to 1949, Stalin was portrayed as an evil cretin, an ally to the Nazis due to the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. But when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Stalin was instantly remade into a hero and a friend to Britain (Moss, 252). Although he was a socialist by nature, Orwell saw that the Soviet Union was a totalitarian state and echoed this change of allegiance in Nineteen Eighty-Four through Oceania’s frequent changes of allegiance with East Asia and Eurasia, which can be the enemy of the Party on one day and then their close ally the next. Arguably the largest influence on the state of Oceania was the Soviet Union. Winston’s job of editing historical documents to make them the new truth was a job that had been done before in the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Men once revered as heros, like Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, and Lev Kamenev, were deleted from history books

and had their faces edited out on photographs (Moss, 252). Trotsky was exiled and later assassinated by Stalin’s Soviet Union. Bukharin and Kamenev were assassinated. “A third of the Soviet Union was expelled for allegedly sympathizing with Trotsky” (Moss, 254). Trotsky can be seen as an influence on Emmanuel Goldstein, a traitor to the Party, the main enemy of the Party and all of Oceania and, quite possibly, the Party’s fabrication. Goldstein is seen and heard only on a large telescreen during the Two Minutes Hate, a daily period in which the people of Oceania let out their built-up angst and hatred. By using Goldstein for this purpose, Goldstein is simply a distraction so that the people of Oceania may become angry over their so-called enemies instead of the Party itself. “During the 11930s, large numbers of political insiders and common citizens alike were accused of crimes against the state, in such show trials, the accused confessed in full to their crimes.” All people put on trial confessed and there are many such show trials to be found in Nineteen Eighty-Four, in fact, Winston is most likely killed in such a trial at the end of the novel. When World War II was over, there were two superpowers: the Soviet Union and the U.S. Thus began the Cold War and although the U.S. ended up winning, they did so at the cost of American freedom. With the Rosenbergs’ assistance to the Soviet Union, the spread of communism in the East, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s list, and news of the Soviet Union’s large atomic stockpile, the American government built upon the panic spreading throughout its people and began cracking down on communism in the U.S. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, found the endorsements of peace from groups such as veterans’ meetings, nationality festivals, youth affairs, neighborhood groups, and women’s rallies to be “feigned” and, “once under communist control, switched to the Party line. In response to these suspicions, Hoover created COINTELPRO (COUnter INTELligence PROgram).

COINTELPRO kept files on many Americans, investigated the NAACP for 25 years, and even “burglarized political groups to gain information on their activities” (Brancaccio). COINTELPRO’s surveillance programs were brought to light in the early 1970s when a Senate Committee named the Church Commission, after its Chairman, Senator Frank Church of Idaho, was created in order to investigate the involvement of government agencies in political repression (Brancaccio). The Commission’s findings resulted in new guidelines in which “investigations could only be brought where "specific and articulable facts" indicated criminal activity. The guidelines also attemped to make sure that the abuses of COINTELPRO were not repeated by requiring that such investigations be reported to the attorney general” (Brancaccio). After 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft changed these rules. “The revised guidelines reduce the requirements of a clear indication of criminal activity and allow for longer ‘preliminary’ investigations without such proof of criminal intent. And "for the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the FBI is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public" (Brancaccio). Critics complain about how the FBI may now keep an eye on ideological supporters, such as non-terrorist Muslims and many polarizing Americans are referring to the U.S. as a Police State and comparing its conditions to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Acts that are causing the U.S. to be considered such a terrible place are CISPA, which will grant the ability for the U.S. to shut down websites at will, the NSA’s wiretapping, NDAA, which will grant the ability to detain anybody for an unknown period of time, the TSA’s body fondling act most airports, and the Patriot Act, which allows those suspected on terrorist activities to be surveilled, have their wires tapped, and have their business records examined. Although not yet a Police State, the U.S.

is simply afraid of revolution and is desperately clinging to power. Apparently finding the best solution to be feared rather than loved, the current U.S. definitely embodies the empowered fear that haunts all of the Party members in Nineteen Eighty-Four. But due to the current passive route of the government’s oppression as opposed to the very in-yourface approach of the Party and many countries in the world, the U.S. is not currently Orwellian as much as Kafkaesque. Approaching a police state, the U.S. once again must compete against a Communist superpower, this time it’s China. Along with Eastern Europe, half of Germany, North Korea, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Yemen, China became a communist nation after World War II after some inspiration and help from the Soviet Union. In 2010, “internet censorship and forced evictions increased; judicial procedures in commercial cases showed signs of political intervention; leading human rights lawyers were harassed, disbarred, and ‘disappeared’; and new regulations made it more difficult for civil society groups to obtain funding from overseas donors” (Freedom House). Not China’s most oppressive year, by far, but an extremely oppressive government holds power in China right now. Like Oceania, China is a huge and oppressive superpower with a large number of “proles”. “If there is hope it lies in the proles” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, 69). That is to say, the majority of China’s population, which is poor and uneducated, are what stand in the way of China’s oppression. Still, at least some internet is allowed and masses aren’t slaughtered, only political enemies. But China is a fearsome nation that must be watched, getting more powerful every day, China clearly plans on becoming a totalitarian state. Becoming Communist at around the same time as China is North Korea, almost a caricature of Oceania. So much so that when North Korea is brought into conversation,

Nineteen Eighty-Four is brought up shortly afterwards. In North Korea, leaders are referred to as “dear leader” and described as “supreme moral [entities] with supernatural powers” (Head), almost in a manner similar to how Nineteen Eighty-Four’s big brother is regarded: a powerful and fearsome, yet protective, leader, although, really, the interpretation of protection really couldn’t be further from the truth. “The North Korean government divides its citizens into three castes based on their perceived loyalty to Dear Leader: ‘core’ (haeksim kyechung), ‘wavering’ (tongyo kyechung), and ‘hostile’ (joktae kyechung). Most of the wealth is concentrated among the ‘core,’ while the ‘hostile’--a category that includes all members of minority faiths, as well as descendants of perceived enemies of the state-are denied employment and subject to starvation” (Head). Almost 3.5 million North Koreans died of starvation during the 1990s and many of its people, with the exception of the “core”, suffer from malnutrition (Head). Also, “Anyone who is overheard saying anything perceived as critical to the government is subject to a reduced loyalty group rating, torture, execution, or imprisonment in one of North Korea's ten brutal concentration camps” (Head). The constant threat of government “control” is a big theme in the novel, the feeling of always being watched, of always being afraid, helpless, is invasive and translates a fear into the reader. The novel was actually written with the exact purpose of preventing a government like this from forming, especially a government so volatile. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the countries of East Asia and Eurasia are already allies of Oceania, if they even exist. However, North Korea promises an “annihilating strike” on South Korea if invaded by the U.S. and is also capable of reaching Japan, and maybe the American west coast. After a failed test of a nuclear missile, North Korea will surely begin to work harder in order to save face and appear threatening to the rest of the world.

“December 17, 2010, Sizi Bouazizi couldn't produce the proper permits for selling fruits and vegetables in the street. And because he refused to hand over a bribe, the local inspector slapped him across the face. Bouazizi headed to the municipal office, set himself on fire in protest and died a few weeks later after sustaining severe wounds from the fire.” This caused a series of revolutions in the Arab World known as Arab Spring. Now, May 14, 2012, dictators are no longer in power in many countries including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. Clearly, standing up to the government takes strength and brings results. Although countries like Egypt are having many, intense difficulties in setting up people’s governments, they have disposed of their former leaders, and that is a major feat. Raghida Dergham, a columnist for the Pan-Arab newspaper, Al Hayat says, “I feel sometimes I'm on a seesaw. One moment, I'm truly exhilarated and proud of what had taken place in the Arab region. Then on the other hand, sometimes I wake up and I say, what have we done? So I am really not clear yet, but I still want to bet the good day that will be coming after even the turbulent times we are witnessing now.” But to reach this day, people must question and stand up to authority because hope does not only lie in the proles.

Annotated Bibliographies Orwell, George. 1984. London, England: Seckar and Warburg, 1949.

George Orwell wrote this novel based on his fear of socialism spreading throughout the word. However, Orwell believed that socialism was great in theory but that it never worked in practice, an good example being the Soviet Union, the country on which the fictional Oceania is based. In the novel, Oceania is a large country that is in control of the Americas and most of the English-speaking world and preaches socialism but instead is a totalitarian regime. The novel follows one Winston Smith, an everyman that begins to doubt the true intentions of Oceania. Eventually, his “rebellious nature” is discovered and he accepts Oceania’s regime before his death at the hands of the government. When 1984 came out, in 1949, the Cold War had just begun and I believe that the novel was meant to inform the public of the dangers of trusting government, particularly those types of government that have had a history of betraying their people. I found this book to be a little dull and much too long, particularly a 32-page passage titled The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism which is about as interesting as the title itself. It’s an interesting book though, it’s got a lot of ups and downs but mostly it’s an important read for anybody that doesn’t want to blindly trust their government.

Brancaccio, David. "Going Undercover/ Criminalizing Dissent?." PBS. 2004. Web. 8 May 2012. <>. This web article’s purpose is to expose the behind-the-scenes control that the government once had. It is as interesting a notion as Stalinist Communism in that a country will surveil, extort, and interrogate its citizens in order to keep the country’s freedom thriving. In the past, PBS has been encouraged by Congress to side with the U.S.

government’s views, but I found this article to be really condemning and concerned with the future of freedom in the U.S and not repeating history. This article will be useful in providing evidence of the U.S. government’s control in the past and possible relapse.

NPR Staff. "The Arab Spring: A Year Of Revolution." NPR. 2011. Web. 8 May 2012. <>. Written a year after the burst of Arab Spring (a series of uprisings in the Muslim world), the NPR staff covers the events of a wide-scale political uprising and its causes. Certainly a left-leaning corporation, NPR still does a good job of interviewing witnesses to such a large, and sudden, rebellion. The purpose of the article is to inform the American people of the political situations in countries around the world and maybe attempt to prevent history from repeating itself. By taking action and making sure that their government doesn’t become horribly repressive, Americans can avoid rebellion in the future and make the world a better place. This article will come in handy when I compare the majority of the people living in the Muslim World to the proles in 1984 and how hope is never over. Well, maybe.

Head, Tom. "North Korean Human Rights Abuses." 2010. 8 May 2012. <>. This overview of human rights in North Korea from is meant to inform the free world of the atrocities that occur in North Korea on a daily basis. Although is not the most reliable of sources, the author, Tom Head, has written 24 non-fiction books,

most of them concerned with morality and government, and this has led me to find the article trustworthy. This source can be of great use to me because modern day North Korea is about the closest to 1984 that our world has come to thus far.

"China." Freedom House. 2011. Web. 8 May 2012. < page=22&year=2011&country=8016>. This article is an overview of China’s relationship with its people over the past 50 years. Despite the long description of how China has one of the most repressed countries in the world, Hong Kong and Tibet are not included in the entry. The source, although slight allegiance to the U.S., seems to have plenty of evidence on how China is the most repressive superpower on the plant. It is for this reason that the source will be useful in my essay; because a repressive superpower like China can be easily compared to the Oceania, the repressive superpower on which all of 1984 takes place.

Moss, J., Wilson, G. “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Literature and Its Times, Volume 5. Eds. Joyce Moss and George Wilson. Detroit: Gale, 1996. p251-257. From a collection of literary works published and written in between the 1940s and the 1950s, This chapter on 1984 serves as a comparison between the novel and the time period that Orwell wrote it in. I believe this source is reliable because the entry seems to be pretty objective and only uses evidence from history to compare with the setting of Orwell’s work. Seeing as how background on the novel and universal themes is going to

serve as the main foundation of the beginning part of my essay, this source really is perfect because it goes in-depth into topics such as a history of literary utopia, propaganda, international political alignment after World War II, totalitarianism, and living conditions in Britain after World War II.

Phillips, Lawrence. “Sex, Violence and Concrete: The Post-war Dystopian Vision of London in Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Critical Survey, Vol. 20, Issue 1. 2008. p69 -79. I found this essay, or rather, Ms. Friday found this essay for me on Ebsco, an AISD approved site, so I’m assuming that the source is reliable. Even though the essay is a little unnecessarily pretentious and will stick out like a sore thumb when I quote it, it is interesting. Phillips explains the significance of London as the setting of his story insisting that it has much to do with post- World War II politics and the history of oppressive governments. I just thought that it was because Orwell was English and liked to base his stories in England. The essay though produces links between the novel, and history and then universal themes like memory and alienation. I think that this entry will be a good source for my essay.