Katarzyna Iwona Stodulska, 2014-06-18
Język angielski, Wypracowania
Totalitarianism in works by George Orwell.
Totalitarianism in works by George Orwell.
‘If you tell the lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it’
‘And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed – if all records told the same tale- then the lie passed into history and become the truth’
George Orwell ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’
Totalitarianism is a term invented by an Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile, the ideologist of the fascist Italy, describing the system of dictatorship rules, aiming at a total subordinate of society through one guiding ideology, single-party state with personality cult, use of terror and torture tactics, propaganda and state – controlled mass media, a ban on free discussion and criticism, terror of secret police and widespread surveillance. The main political scientists dealing with totalitarianism, Zbigniew Brzeziński, Karl Propper, Hanna Arendt and Carl Friedrich, itemize Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler, China under Mao Zetong or The North Corea today, as totalitarian countries.
George Orwell, in fact Eric Arthur Blair (25.06.1903 – 21.01.1950), an English writer, Observer’s war correspondent, a sympathizer of the Independent Labour Party, infantryman of non – Stalinist for – left PUOM during Spanish Civil War, described his war experiences in essays ‘Wounded by a Fascist Sniper’ and ‘Homage to Catalonia’. In the latter essay Orwell exposes the betrayal of the workers’ revolution and the crimes of secret police, NKWD and GRU in Spain. In 1944 George Orwell wrote Animal Farm , which is known as anti – Stalinist allegory and a satire on Soviet totalitarianism, then, in 1949 he finished a dystopian novel, a prophetic vision of totalitarian rules, paralleling the Stalinist Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, namely Nineteen Eighty – Four.
Both works by George Orwell reveals cruel mechanisms of totalitarian regimes, when people’s lives depend on a leader worshipped almost like a God. Individuality, freedom, pleasures and even love are banned because the only thing individuals should feel is admiration towards their dictator and total devotion to guiding ideology. In Nineteen Eighty – Four Big Brother, the mysterious, smiling under his moustache leader of Inner Party which runs the government, presented everywhere with a large slogan ‘Big Brother Is Watching You, can be compared to Stalin or charismatic Hitler, also beloved by their subordinates. While Napoleon, the leader of Animal Farm , which used force to rid of Snowball, his rival, resembles Joseph Stalin, who drive out Leon Trotsky to Mexico, where he was assassinated.
The world in Nineteen Eighty – Four is divided into three superpowers; Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Each of these totalitarian superstates constantly fighting with one another control the whole world through three different called ideologies; Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo – Bolshevism in Eurasia and Obliteration of the Self (‘Death Worship’) in Eastasia, which, in fact, is one ideology, totalitarianism. What is more, Goldstein, an enemy of the Party, suggests in his Book that both, Eurasia and Eastasia, as well as the war may be a lie fabricated by the Inner Party to keep people in a state of an endless uncertainty. The society in Nineteen Eighty - Four is divided into classes, however most people called proles live in poverty and squalor,…’underfeed people shuffled to and fro in leaky shoes, in patched-up nineteenth –century houses that smelt always of cabbage and bad lavatories…’ whereas the members of The Inner Party leads comfortable, almost luxurious lives. This distinction between the ruling party, the Outer Party and the rest of society and the division of animals in Animal Farm for better and worse is characteristic for totalitarian society of Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. Moreover, the leader of Animal Farm, Old Major, describing the animals his dream about the free world without people, where all animals live in peace and harmony , resembles Anarchist Comunists and even Lenin, while Napoleon and Snowball which lead the animals to revolution and develop seven rights, with one most significant ‘all animals are equal’, consequently reduced to a single sentence: ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’, displays an enormous gap between dictator rulers and the rest of society and, of course, the corruption and lies of the people from the top of social ladder.
Totalitarian system is based also on constant surveillance of every aspect of people’s lives, interference in their believes and behavior, controlling the society through secret police, repression, terror and monopolized mass – media , that serve to keep people in permanent fear and uncertainty and to present rewrited historic and present events. One of the mechanisms of this machinery in Nineteen Eighty –Four is called Thought Police, which through their microphones and telescreens spies every household and even public area to investigate thoughtcrime. ‘Thoughtcrime…, which is every single thing against the Party or Big Brother, … does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death’as Winston Smith, the main character of Nineteen Eighty – Four describes in his diary. Even children in Oceania in special groups called Youth Leage, similar to Hitler Youth or Little Octobrists or Young Pioneers, are brainwashed and taught to spy their parents. Four ministries, The Ministry of Peace, conducting endless war, The Ministry of Plenty, rationing food, The Ministry of Truth, propaganda device of Oceania’s regime, controlling information and ‘rectifying’ historical documents and newspapers articles ‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”, according to the Party ideology. The last ministry, the Ministry of Love is responsible for monitoring and torturing eventual opponents of the Party. All of the ministries are designed to investigate and spy every step of a man. Furthermore, their names in Newspeak, a special language created to reflect the ideology of Ingsoc and make ‘all other modes of thought impossible’ , but also to make the language used by the Party more ambiguous and even impossible to conceive its ideas (cf. Sapir – Whorf Hypothesis), as ‘The great enemy of clear language is insincerity’, are: Minipax, Miniplenty, Minitruth and Miniluv, and are examples of doublethink: ‘The keyword is blackwhite… but it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary…’ The three slogans of the Party are also the examples of doublethink: War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength. Doublethink enables the Party to change the history to comply with people’s vision of the party and its leader and to keep them thinking that :‘The Party is never wrong’. ‘Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. ‘1
In Animal Farm the secret police, which in Nineteen Eighty – Four resembles Gestapo or NKWD, is personified by The Dogs taken from the farm dogs and trained for Napoleon’s bodyguards. Many characters of this novel are based upon real people connected with Soviet Union totalitarian regime. One of them is Squealer constantly telling lies to animals about the past events they cannot remember, which is similar to revision of history documents in Soviet Union in order to idealize Stalin’s rules. The others are: Old Major based upon Lenin and Marx, Mr. Frederick compared to Hitler, as he swindles Napoleon and attacks the farm, and Mr.Pilkington representing USA or Britain. The card game played between Mr. Pilkington and the pigs , during which all of them are cheating we can compare to the Teheran Conference, when Soviet Union formed the Alliance with USA and Britain, thought it had fought with them at the beginning of the revolution). The lower class is represented by horses, mainly Boxer whose motto is ‘Napoleon is always right’ similar to ‘Mussolini is always right’, popular during II World War. Both horses blind believes in Napoleon. The other members of society are, raven Moses representing religion which has been constantly in conflict with Comunism, the sheep and the Hens, reflecting the Kulaks. Napoleon starved the Hens to death, because they did not want to give him their eggs, similarly, the Kulaks were given the same punishment.
Mass terror and crimes of totalitarianism are reflected in Animal Farm by mass killing of the animals accused of betrayal and collaboration with Snowball, which resembles executions, after long tortures , political enemies of Stalin.
Although both, Nineteen Eighty – Four and Animal Farm has had an enormous impact not only on the English language and culture, and many of Orwell’s ideas such as Newspeak, doublethink, Big Brother, Room 101, thought police and quotes like: ‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others’ or ‘ Big Brother is watching you’ are used commonly nowadays and function as a warning against the danger of oppressive regime, many people, especially rulers, are still not conscious of the threat and macabre results of possible future dictatorship of one blindly worshipped by the crowd person, who establishes his government on lies. ‘Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.’ And one more O’Brien statement: ‘ If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face … for ever’.
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