Freedom and Liberty (a book review of George Orwell’s 1984)
Living in a society with limited freedom of expression is not, in any case, enjoyable. A Totalitarian society is a good example of such a society, because although it provides control for the people, it can deny them a great deal of freedom to express themselves. The fictional society in George Orwell’s 1984 also stands as a metaphor for a Totalitarian society. Communication, personal beliefs, and individual loyalty to the government are all controlled by the inner party which governs the people of Oceania in order to keep them from rebelling. Current society in America is much more democratic. It contrasts with Orwell’s society of 1984 because communication, personal beliefs and the people’s loyalty to the government are all determined by the individual.In order to keep the people of Oceania in conformity with the desires of the governing Inner Party, the Inner Party controls several aspects of the people’s lives. Communication, for one, is controlled for the benefit of the nation.
Newspeak is a modified version of language that is enforced upon the people in order to limit their expression. Syme and Winston, two middle-class workers in Oceania, discuss the concept of Newspeak. Syme reveals that he supports the system, demonstrating how he has been brainwashed by the Inner Party who enforces the system. “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words… You haven’t a real appreciation for Newspeak, Winston… Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thougtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. (p. 46)”One can detect from this quotation that the people of Oceania, as a group, have been brainwashed by the Inner Party to use only Newspeak. Syme, for one, understands the purpose of it, and he still complies with the system because he has been trained to do so.
The concept of Newspeak is designed to control personal beliefs of the citizens by limiting their form of expression as Syme explains. But when the governing system is not followed, Thought Police are used to prevent thoughts that oppose the nation. “How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. (p. 6)” There is no doubt that – through both Newspeak and Thought Police – the system of government in 1984 has adequately prevented the people from thinking against it. When all this surveillance is placed on the people, they learn to comply with their country and eventually begin to value it automatically.
At the end of the story, aft er Winston is accused by the Thought Police of thoughtcrime and is tortured, he finally conforms to the general thoughts of Oceania. “He had finally won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. (p. 245)” This quote indicates that the inner party has done everything that was necessary to preserve Winston’s loyalty to the nation. Even Winston, who at one time was against his government, has now been “fixed” to support it and love his leader. The government of Oceania has gone to great lengths to change Winston’s mind, and as always, they have gotten what they desire.America in 1997 is much different from Orwell’s 1984 because, for one, freedom of expression is a dominating factor in American communication. In conversation as well as newspapers and magazines, a variety of views and opinions are openly expressed.
Censorship is not enforced to a high degree. As an example, demonstrations and protests are often held which counter certain governmental policies; laws or propositions are often spoken out against in public. The fact that these rebellious actions are not punished by the government proves that the government of America is much more lenient than that of 1984. The expression of such a variety of beliefs comes from the freedom of individual beliefs. The thoughts and opinions of the individual are not maintained by the government; the government does not have a system to control the thoughts of the individual. This is why one commonly sees such a variety of beliefs and ideas spread in advertisements and media.
For instance, while there are often advertisemen ts for meat, leather or fur products in magazines and such, other advertisements often try to suggest a more humane treatment of animals, therefore contradicting the idea that animals should be killed for human consumption. The modern American government fully allows any given belief of the individual people. And because our beliefs vary, our opinion of the government can vary. While some people support their nation, others defy it because they have the independence to do so. Neo-Nazi skinheads traditionally wear an American flag upside down on their clothing or burn the flag. There is no policing that prevents people from doing this because the government gives them the freedom.
All in all, modern Americans have an extremely high level of freedom regarding all forms of expression.The story of 1984 reflects a society that totally contrasts with America today. While Orwell’s objective was primarily written to exaggerate the Totalitarian/Communist and other conditions of society surrounding him, 1984 presents an important guide to life for modern Americans. Just as a major objective of learning American history is to ensure that we do not repeat our mistakes, 1984 can give warnings to both government systems and individuals regarding how society should not be controlled. The vigorous control system presented in the book stands as a method by which no American would want to live.