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McNamara chose to escalate the war, focusing on the body count to measure the progress of the war instead of U.S. progress in achieving its ultimate military and political objectives. (Halberstam, Chapter 22).
Orwell's Experiences During the Interwar period and World War II
Orwell, an English native, was a promising intellect educated at elite educational institutions such as Eton. (40). Despite his sterling educational credentials, Orwell chose to work as a colonial police officer in Burma, where he first witnessed the brutal policing power an authoritarian political regime and its effects on citizens. (Taylor, 92). This regime was his own Britain's exploitative and authoritarian colonial governance in the British profitable, but peaceful colony of Burma. (Taylor, 97).
Orwell left Burma and Imperial service because of sickness, making a more unstructured life for himself in England as a journalist. (Taylor, 119). He lived, as a journalist in disguise, among the working class in the slums of London as well and marginalized coal miners in northern England, where he witnessed the brutal effects of Capitalist exploitation. (Taylor, 175). This experience caused him to alter his political position, now supporting democratic socialism instead of the Capitalist-dominated liberal democracies familiar to him . (Taylor, 192)When Orwell arrived in Spain to report on the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he witnessed the numerous injustices committed, quite routinely, by the Fascist, Totalitarian regime. (Taylor, 224-225). Orwell started to develop the notion that such atrocities were not the exception, but rather the rule for Totalitarian regimes.
The Writing of 1984
The rise of dictators such in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia/Soviet Union reminded Orwell of his experiences in Totalitarian Spain. Orwell's second-hand knowledge of these regimes, through periodicals and historical literature, confirmed the impression of Totalitarianism developed through Orwell's actual experience. (Taylor, 267). This synthesis of knowledge cultivated a political paranoia in Orwell, inspiring him to imagine a terrible future for the world under Totalitarian rule. (Taylor, 292-293). This visions was illustrated in 1984, which he wrote at the outset of the Cold War in 1949.
With 1984, Orwell intended to write a terrifying dystopian novel, wishing to illustrate the worst imaginable consequences of modern social and political trends such as Totalitarianism. It was meant to alert readers to the continued threat of authoritarian rule in their own nations, even though its most dangerous model, Nazi Germany, had fallen. . (Taylor, 292; 342). Orwell wanted to convey the dangers of absolute political authority in general, especially in an age of advanced technology.
Totalitarianism and the Policing Powers of the State
The ruling party of Oceania is clearly modeled on the Communist party of the Soviet Union. The Party is presented as a communalist political authority composed of its constituents, society's laborers, and working in the service of its constituents. In other words, the party is supposed to be the very embodiment of its constituency, literally and figuratively.
Just as communalism led to totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, the communalist Party apparatus in 1984 produces totalitarianism. The Party's hierarchical organization, with low-ranking members and high-ranking members, determined on the basis of their qualifications, service, and commitment, is a direct allusion to the party apparatus of the Russian and Soviet Communist parties. (Ch. 1, p. 6). Similarly, the hierarchical organization of Oceania's ruling party leads to a concentration of decision-making power and knowledge at the secretive upper echelons, leaving low-ranking members like Winston without knowledge or input. (Ch. 17, p. 121). This is demonstrated by Winston's ignorance of important Party operations, which eventually led to Winston's capture. (Ch. 18, p. 138).
The basic methods by which the Party controls the populace is inspired by Nazi Germany's own methods of Totalitarian rule. This is represented in Oceania by the policing powers of the state run by the Party. (Ch. 18, p. 136). It is most visible to American readers through the lack of due process of law enforced by a judiciary with certain powers and authority over the executive and legislative branches, exemplified as O'Brien's role as Ministry employee, spy, torturer, and judge of Winston's fate. (Ch. 19, p. 142; Chapter 20, p.158).
The Party's policing powers were also exemplified in its formation of a special police force to monitor the political opinions and actions of its citizens, the "Thought Police." (Ch. 1, p. 2). Orwell's "Thought Police" was no doubt inspired by Nazi Germany's own Gestapo, which was authorized to investigate cases of treason, espionage, and sabotage on the state of Germany and on the Nazi Party itself. (Mowat, 496). The Gestapo operated without judicial oversight, just as the Thought Police did. (Ch. 2, p. 15; Mowat, 496). O'Brien's imprisonment and torture of Winston without judicial review mirrors the Gestapo's practice of Schutzhaft, where imprisoned people without judicial proceedings using the legal procedure of "protective custody." (Ch. 19, p. 142; Mowat, 497).
Technology, Rationalization, and Bureaucratization
According to Orwell, Totalitarian rule will be enhanced by the technological advances of the future. For instance, the Party is able to monitor its citizens more effectively through telescreens, less demanding to operate than in-person monitoring. (Ch. 1, p. 2). The telescreens are not only meant for detection, they also promote deterrence by engendering a feeling among citizens that they are always being watched, expressed by the ubiquitous slogan, "Big Brother is Watching You." (Ch. 1, p. 1-2). Moreover, because of the party's control of technological innovations, citizens would rightly suspect that the monitoring technology revealed to them, e.g. telescreens, is likely not the only means of technology-enabled monitoring.
The party's monitoring activities are accomplished not only through high-tech methods like telescreens, but also through old-fashioned spying. Moles like O-Brien, a powerful party member who indicates that he is a covert operative for the Brotherhood, turns out to be loyal to the party after all, presenting himself as a possible covert operative in order to lure possible rebels like Winston. (Ch. 18, p. 138). The Party also used a network of informers, such as the seemingly senile shopkeeper Mr. Charrington, from whom Winston rents a room on top of the shop. (Ch. 16, p. 104-5).
In 1984, the cult of personality which characterizes the most enduring totalitarian regimes, such as Lenin's, Mao's, or the Roman Caesars, is employed in the service "Big Brother." The substitution of actual persons for a faceless, anonymous "Big Brother" represents the bureaucratic and communalist progression of Totalitarianism. In Oceania, the Party coerced the populace's adulation, trust, and loyalty towards "Big Brother." (Orwell, Chapter 1, p. 8-9). There were even "…demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week." (Ch. 5/p.32). This cult of personality was meant to secure the authority of the communally-composed and communally-oriented Party, symbolically represented as the faceless, powerful, benevolent, and vengeful "Big Brother." Even Winston, the dissenter, admits that, at times, "Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes of Asia…" (Ch. 1, p.8).
The new cult of personality also exemplifies the rationalization of modern society envisioned by Weber and already underway before World War II. The Party discarded the notion of "Great Men" such as Caesar or Mao, who have proved far too capricious, self-interested, and irrational for a rational society. This decision illustrates the Party's discomfort with personal charisma and authority, a progression our own society's discomfort with familial or religious authority. The loyalty towards a fictional personality is expressed by the Newspeak editor Syrle after explaining his own brilliant ideas on language, disingenuously qualifies that "It was B.B.'s idea originally, of course,' he added as an afterthought." (Ch. 5, p. 29).
Disillusioned with the authority of "Great Men," the Party chooses a less emotional, more rational source of authority, subject to rational, bureaucratic controls." Such an authority, ostensibly, would not use its office in the pursuit of personal interests because it is not an actual person. This notion is quickly punctured by Orwell's depiction of the inner party, the makers of "Big Brother," and their interest in preserving their own political power and control over the populace. (Ch. 17, p. 121). Thus, 1984 shows that, through bureaucratization, the cult of personality as a form of control will survive even after society has tired of worshipping actual persons.
Language, History and Propaganda
Orwell's depiction of government propaganda was certainly influenced by his experience with wartime propaganda during World War II. This wartime propaganda was engaged in by all of the major nations involved in the war. American propaganda sought to dehumanize the Japanese, just as Nazi propaganda sought to dehumanize the Jews and the French. More powerful, however, was the positive propaganda engaged in by Totalitarian states. Nazi propaganda, for example, sought to instill the Germans as the master race, just as Fascist Italy promoted the Italian sense of entitlement to a New Roman Empire. Even in Asia, the Japanese propagated the belief that the Japanese were a unique and divine race destined to rule Asia.
The manipulation of history in Oceania is achieved through…[continue]
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