Civil Disobedience and 1984
In Orwell’s 1984, the government is all controlling, all manipulative, and all knowing. They maintain every aspect of their member’s lives and monitor them constantly. Conversely, in the context of Civil Disobedience, the government is a form of direct democracy. People have their right to vote and the right to openly express their opinions. The main character of 1984 lives in constant fear of his government while Thoreau argues with his and suggests a variety of ways to cause reformation, he has the freedom of expression much unlike Winston. This is an essential point when trying to suggest any of Thoreau’s ideas to reform 1984 socialistic government.
There is also no hope of rebellion from actual party members, this is one instance where Thoreau’s ideas falter. Even Winston admits early on in the novel that the government could never be brought down from the inside, “If there is hope…it lies in the proles.” (Orwell, p. 69) The Party could not be destroyed from within, because the Thought Police are all powerful and all watching. But the proles are not educated and generally don’t care whatsoever about the Party. The only time the Party is of interest is the lottery, but even that is rigged. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel.” (Orwell, p. 70) Because the proles are ultimately unaffected, they will never rise up and take hold of the opportunity to overthrow the Party. Thoreau was correct on the ignorant and unaffected not taking charge or making change, and he was also correct on the government being unable to correct itself, but in the case of wanting those to put their own conscience before the law it is impossible in the world of 1984.
“It is hypocritical for a person to commend a soldier for refusing to fight in an unjust war while that same person continues to sustain the unjust government that is pursuing the war.” (Thoreau) Winston’s hatred against the Party is not only futile but also hypocritical because he continues to associate himself with it. Being a member of the Party, Winston must maintain constant loyalty to the government, or at the very least, sustain the appearance that he does. “A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can be sure that he is alone.” (Orwell, p. 210) With the incorporation of spies along with Telescreens, Winston has no true privacy. He couldn’t decide to completely or even remotely remove himself from the government because he would immediately be caught by the Thought Police. Not only that, but he continues the...