Opinions : Essays : Nineteen Eighty-Four and Personal Freedom
from Yee Teck (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am sorry if nothing of what's below makes any sense to you, but it is
just some of my thoughts on the novel.
I have read the novel about ten times at least.
It has vaiously been called a warning on totalitarianism, a prophecy or
simply a description of totalitarianism.
I believe it is alot deeper that. It's the pychology of totalitarianism.
He stresses that force alone cannot keep any party in power
indefinitely. It is when the psychology of society is altered that true
totalitarianism can occur. The character of Winston is a deliberate
contrast of virtually every other individual mind in Oceania (or
Eastasia or Eurasia).
At one point during his torture, he realized that the party was not
going to kill him, because if they did, freedom would have triumphed,
because Winston Smith would have died a free man with his beliefs
There was the part when Winston was insisting to O'Brien that Big
Brother could not control the environment and so on. But O'Brien's reply
was that even the environment is a product of the mind. How can a
thunderstorm exist if the consciousness of individual persons has no
concept of the existence of rain? This concept of the individual's
consciousnes being altered, practically destroyed, is to me the primary
message of Orwell. This is his warning.
In fact, I believe that to Orwell, freedom is very much more to do with
the individual, and not simply a case of repressive governments. In
another book of his ('Keep the Aspidistra Flying'), a peripheral
character who when arrested, was telling the main character that if one
was free up there (ie the brain), one would be alright. I'm afraid I
cannot remember the exact words, but that was clearly the message of
that few lines in the novel.
This may sound silly to you, but I believe this has real implications in
todays world. At a time when many people in developed western countries
spend so much time cursing certain East Asian countries about repressive
regimes, I think it is time for them to reconsider their own
consciousness. So many argue all the time about freeing Tibet, or
releasing political prisoners. But I feel the need to ask them whetehr
they have actually SERIOUSLY thought about the concepts of freedom or
human rights. I don't believe any of them (there will be some) have
anything beyond a shallow and vague understanding of these concepts.
They are their own prisoners. Their consciousness in this respect, is to
me something like the consciousness of outer party members during the
Two-Minutes hate. Their minds have been shaped largely by the
unfortunately media-dominated world we live in today. As much as there
are political prisoners, it is much worse to me to be a prisoner of my
own unconscious consciousness. Put it this way, to me, recently released
Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng was more free during his part 18 years
in prison than many people today in open consumer-oriented and
lies-ridden societies today.
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