Manipulation Of Power Essay

860 words - 3 pages

1984 can be seen as the final distillation of a number of opinions and theories George Orwell had been building over the years of his short life. His stint with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma introduced him to the shameful activities of the British in the Far East. For a few years after his return to Europe, he spent his time investigating the lives of the urban poor, emerging with a vague distrust of machine-age capitalist society. This bloomed into a firm adherence to Socialism in 1936, when Orwell was sent by his publisher to the industrial north of England, where he encountered for the first time "ordinary working class people." Within a year, he had married and relocated to Spain to join the revolutionary Marxist POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista, or Worker's Party of Marxist Unification), the dissident faction of the Spanish Communist party. However, when the Stalin-backed Communists turned on their far-left anarchist allies and labeled POUM pro-fascist, the Orwells were forced to flee to avoid being thrown into prison and shot. The author's experiences in Spain engendered a lifelong horrified fixation on totalitarianism and a profound abhorrence for Stalinist Communism, both of which emerged in 1984. World War II's introduction of totalitarianism on both sides of the political spectrum<fascism and communism<served to solidify Orwell's hatred of authoritarianism and totalitarianism no matter which "wing" it was affiliated with. During the war, he was equally unimpressed by some of what was going on at home. Out of Orwell's work at the BBC from 1940-1943 grew both the nature of Winston's mind-numbingly useless and dishonest job, and, it has been argued, the impetus for Newspeak. (Orwell's interest in the connection between the growth of authoritarianism and the decline of language is explored in his essay "Politics and the English Language.") <p>
Defining authoritarianism and totalitarianism here would be useful to understanding how Orwell shaped his observations and experience into 1984. Broadly speaking, an authoritarian system is one in which society is governed by a dictator or oligarchy not constitutionally responsible to the people. Totalitarianism is something of a sub-category of authoritarianism where the ruling group has complete and total control over every aspect of life, whether personal or public, and the individual is expected to conform.

Totalitarianism is a recent phenomenon, probably because of the technological advances (mostly related to surveillance and the dissemination of information) that have allowed it to develop. A totalitarian system condemns current society as corrupt and problematic, and introduces plans (like the Three-Year or Five-Year Plans) and programs to solve the problems presented. These measures demand complete conformity from the...

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