Novel 1984: Relevance to People in 2022
Many writers when writing a dystopia write about things that they would never want to happen, but many of these scary, predicted things have. Winston Smith is a lower party member in the capital of Oceania who has no privacy anywhere he goes because the thought police watch him. He also cannot go anywhere without seeing the party’s leader big brother. The Party also has rules against thoughtcrime (committing thoughts against the party) and eventually creates a new language, Newspeak, that eliminates any vocabulary against the party. George Orwell’s novel 1984, the work is relevant to people in 2022 because the government promotes ignorance among people, the lack of privacy from the government, and the government manipulating hate towards enemies.
In today’s society, we cannot go anywhere without the government being able to see what we are doing. This is very similar to 1984 because they are being seen and listened to through telescreens by their Party. When Winston and Julia were caught in rebellion against the party, the iron voice of the telescreen says, “Remain exactly where you are. not move until you are ordered” telescreen begins the arrest of Winston and Julia after it contacts the thought police. This is an example of the Party not giving its people privacy because they listened to their conversations in their homes. Similarly, in the article, “Driving to the Panopticon: a Philosophical Exploration of the Risks to Privacy Posed by the Highway Technology of the Future,” the author, Louis Brandeis, said that “IVHS [Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems] information systems [will] contain information on where travelers go, the routes they use, and when they travel. This information could be used to disadvantage people, and should be secure.“ This essentially means that the government has information and records on where we go and where we have been. Them obtaining this information gives Americans no privacy because the government can see where we are always.
The government should not have a say in the relations between a man and woman having it be just and right. Winston and Julia had to hide their love from the government because they were rebelling against the government by being in a relationship. It says in the novel 1984, “He did not look at her. He unpacked his tray and promptly began eating. It was all-important to speak at once before anyone else came…”. This part of the text is describing him finally being able to talk to Julia after she handed him the note saying she loved him. They were prohibited from speaking before they were alone because they could have tipped off someone causing the party to find out and they would be punished. This is an extreme lack of privacy because the Party should not be involved in people’s affairs or prohibit them. This is similar to today’s society because marriage has become between man, woman, and the state; because it used to be and should be between man, woman, and the church, making it part of the government’s way of controlling and keeping track of its citizens and not it being an intimate religious part of society. The novel 1984 is relevant to today’s society due to the lack of privacy from the government.
Today, many government officials take advantage of their citizens by convincing them to hate or decide against an enemy country. Oceania, Winston’s country in 1984, host a hate week in which they promote and enforce hate against their enemy, rather it be Eastasia or Eurasia at the time. In the novel, it describes a Mongolian soldier from Eurasia as having a gun “From whatever angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun… seemed to be pointing straight at you” (Orwell 149). This is describing the enemy as being a monster and causing the Oceanians to be scared and to hate the Eurasians. The part is manipulating hate on the enemy by intimidating their citizens with them. In another instance, the “program of Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure” (Orwell 12). Emmanuel Goldstein is the country’s main enemy so they flash his face over the telescreens causing the people to recognize him as someone to hate. This is a great example of the Party manipulating hate toward enemies.
In a very similar way, our recent politicians have encouraged us to not be for other countries and in fact against them. In Trump’s “hate speech,” or presidential campaign speech, he deflects hate towards enemies encouraging us to hop on the “Trump Train” and view as he does. In the article Aristotle’s Rhetoric in Trump’s Hate Speech the author, Ana Jimena Casillas Castañeda, says, we find anger to be the main emotion Trump is moving to influence our judgment. ‘Our country is in serious trouble… When was the last time anybody saw us beating… China in a trade deal?… When did we beat Japan at anything?… When do we beat Mexico at the border?” This section of the speech is where Trump encourages hate towards the countries beating us economically, or essentially our enemies. This example of government manipulating hate towards enemies relates to the novel because Hate Week encourages the Oceainians to hate their enemies as well. Very similar to 1984, the government enforces hate on us very easily. The reader can easily infer that the government easily infers hate.
And finally, in the novel, it is very obvious that the Party enforces ignorance among its people in many ways. This can also be seen as very similar to today’s society in which education reform constantly demolishes important skills and information for American citizens. In the novel 1984, one of the party’s slogans is: “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”. This is a contradicting statement that promotes the Oceanians to believe that they should be ignorant. Relating to the novel, the new york times author, Maria Konnikova said, ” today The Common Core standards… call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard”. Primarily this states that they are moving from teaching cursive and handwriting and more towards typing. This is the government promoting ignorance so that people cannot read important documents such as the Declaration of Independence. The higher-level government wants its citizens to remain ignorant so that they cannot fight for their rights.