One is a dystopia where every aspect of life

One of the key themes in 1984, by George Orwell, is total control.  The level of control seen in this alternative world is unlike anything we know today.  However, what makes the book so enthralling is that there are many aspects that are not so different from the current reality.  It is important to remember that this book was published in 1949, directly after World War II, when fears of communism were rampant in many countries.  While this book is far more extreme than any communist regime ever seen, that was clearly the motivation behind the writing of the novel.  The world created in 1984 is a dystopia where every aspect of life is monitored and regulated, the past is completely alterable and logic useless, yet despite everything the party is treated with unwavering loyalty by the vast majority of its citizens.In the country of Oceania, there is no freedom.  In fact, one of the three slogans of the Party is that “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.” (7)  There is no privacy; almost everywhere is under surveillance of the telescreens.  Relaxation is non-existent; in free time it is expected for a party member, like Winston Smith, to participate in community hikes and hand out propaganda pamphlets.  However, what is truly key to the Party’s sustained power is the ability to monitor thoughts.  There is nowhere where a party member can think freely; “A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone.” (173)  Even with the advent of the internet, we are nowhere close to this level of surveillance; no matter what our minds can still be kept completely to ourselves.  However, not only can the party monitor thoughts, it can also control them.   This is done through propaganda on a level that would appear only in our darkest dreams.  It is carried out through print, film, radio, and most of all the telescreen.  Propaganda and lies are omnipresent in the life of any citizen of Oceania; to the point that “the Ministry of Truth concerns itself with lies.” (178)  In George Orwell’s world,  “The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time.”  In many authoritarian and communist countries, like North Korea, the media is simply government propaganda.  But even then, the television can be turned off.  In George Orwell’s world, the telescreen is always on and “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (5)”If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I see him do it, then the thing happens.” (229)  This makes no sense, yet ideas like these are the foundation of Party control in Oceania.  In Oceania there is a belief in the mutability of the past, history can be altered to fit the Party’s goals but “whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting.” (32) The Party believes that the past only exists and memories and records. Therefore, they also believe that if “we, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past.” (205)  A central tenet of the Party is doublethink. Doublethink is the ability “to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic.” (32) This may seem otherworldly and insane to us, after all, “even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.” (33)  However, these ideas were used to a lesser degree in the Soviet Union.  Look up terms from 1984, such as 2+2=5 and thoughtcrime, and you will find that they were used before Orwell by dictators such as Joseph Stalin.  Maybe this isn’t that alien after all?  Winston believed that “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” (69)  How close were we to that happening in the real world?”It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred and cruelty. It would never endure.” (221) However, the Party enjoys not just tolerance from its citizens, but in many cases admiration.  “All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations.” (62) In any normal country, the constant warfare and suffering would surely lead to rebellion. In contrast, Oceania has used extreme manipulation to create a public that is not just oppressed, but oppressed to the level that they can’t even realize it.   “All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers,” (163) some more successfully than others.  For example, many North Koreans still believe they live in a utopia, as suggested by the state propaganda.  Even in the US, the current president still attempts to brainwash people simply with the words “fake news.”  However, there is no regime that falls anywhere close to Oceania in 1984. This creates ignorance, which helps explain the Party’s 2nd slogan,”IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.” (7)  The other way the Party’s control is maintained is through constant war.  The aim of war is not economic or territorial gain; instead, “the primary aim of modern warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.”  In short, war is used to maintain poverty in Oceania.  This explains the final slogan of the Party, “WAR IS PEACE.” (7)  “In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.” (157)  But if all products are used in war instead of for the people and the only education is state propaganda, who knows who long hierarchical society could last?George Orwell intended this book to be a warning of totalitarian regimes, and the country of Oceania has many similarities to countries in the real world, just to an extreme degree.  The book was written in 1949, about 1984, and its themes are still m relevant today, in 2018. The story is peppered with rebellious notions from Winston, and it makes the reader hope that by the end something will change.  But in the end, Winston isn’t leading the charge against the Party, he’s not even a martyr; instead, he’s been vaporized, his existence forgotten.  It begs the question: how unstoppable is complete and total control?