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Transcript of 1984
Disappearance of political officials
When his friend Syme vanishes, Winston remarks, "Syme had ceased to exist; he had never existed" (Orwell 122), because the Party erased all evidence of his existence. Similarly, in North Korea, six government officials have disappeared from political life. This "vaporization" in
occurs without warning or official explanation, although Winston believes Syme's disappearance is due to his intelligence, which opposes the Party's goal of conformity. The article speculates that the North Korean officials' disappearance may be linked to their connections with others considered to be traitors (Ryall), however, specific reasons are unknown. In both scenarios, there is no official statement from the government; the individuals simply disappear.
Minority versus Government
Limits on Surveillance
Brainwashing of children
In Palestine, many young Arab children are conditioned to hate Jewish people from Israel, due to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. Manipulated at a young age, these children engage in violent acts believing they will become martyrs for their country. So much so, that children as young as eight years old proudly claim, "our heads aren’t in studies at all, we are always planning what to do against the police...we’ll succeed in liberating Palestine and Jerusalem." (Israel Today).
Surveillance in "1984"
, telescreens, microphones, and cameras monitor every minute of a person's day, no matter where they are.
The Thought Police use this surveillance to ensure the policies of the Party are followed at all times and to catch criminals.
Surveillance is also used as a tactic to encourage obedience from citizens, because people who know they are being watched will behave as the Party wants them to in order to avoid arrest.
Surveillance in the real world:
Police body cameras
The article from CBC News discusses the American government’s plan to supply body cameras to an additional 50 000 police officers, partly in response to recent deaths at the hands of police.
The goal of the body cameras is to “help settle arguments over who did what and when”, and hold police officers accountable for their actions (Stastna).
The article suggests that body cameras encourage police to adhere more obediently to their training when dealing with the public and cause people to behave more civilly. Similarly, in
, people are behaving in a certain way because they know they are on camera.
Julia says, “they can make you say anything-anything- but they can’t make you believe it.” (Orwell 137). Similarly, it is unclear whether body cameras will alter the attitudes of the police force or only change officers' behaviour. It is evident in
that surveillance increases obedience but not necessarily belief in the ideology, therefore the long term impact of police body cameras also remains unclear.
Works Cited Continued
Stastna, K. (2014). Body cameras: Can they reduce confrontations with police?. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/body-cameras-can-they-reduce-confrontations-with-police-1.2861881
By: Kaelan Brooke, Paulina Rabalski, and Saron Yohannes.
Ryall, J. (2014, October 23). Six officials 'disappear' in latest Pyongyang purges. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11181611/Six-officials-disappear-in-latest-Pyongyang-purges.html
The disappearance of government officials indicates the ruling party's absolute power in a totalitarian government. In
and in North Korea, disloyalty and individuality are seen as threats to the government's power, therefore people with these traits are removed from public life or killed. Individuals are not valued, only their contributions to the government are. In
, Orwell uses the absolute power of the Party to warn readers of the danger of totalitarian governments, unfortunately, many parallels exist between the Party of
and the current North Korean government.
Absolute Power of Totalitarian Governments
Silbert, S. (2014, December 3). No laughing matter: China's media regulators ban puns. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-bans-puns-20141203-story.html.
Due to the many homophones that exist in the Chinese language, puns are popular among internet users, writers, and companies seeking to promote their products in an engaging manner (Silbert). Recently, media regulators of the Chinese government ordered a restriction against puns because they "mislead young readers and make it more difficult to promote traditional Chinese culture" (Silbert). In
the Party uses Newspeak to reduce the vocabulary of its citizens so they lack the language to describe anything outside of the Party's ideology. The Chinese government has a similar goal in that it wants to promote certain values and remove references to rebellion. Both scenarios also demonstrate the separation of artistry and language
Consequences of Vocabulary Reduction
Both scenarios also demonstrate the separation of artistry and language. The Party in
uses Newspeak to remove adjectives that are not strictly necessary, but add style and interest to writing. Similarly, the restriction on puns in China removes an enjoyable part of language that many people take part in. Language manipulation results in the restriction of thought and removes the artistry from language.
Use of Technology
Despite the Party having advanced technologies, the infrastructure is "falling to pieces" (Orwell 21) and the citizens lack access to basic commodities such as razor blades and coffee. The video by the International Federation of Red Cross Societies, mentions technology as a means to deliver more effective humanitarian aid. By giving local agencies and people communication devices, they are better equipped to provide emergency warnings and reach people stuck in disaster areas (IFRC).
Loyalty from Children
, children join the Junior Spies, working for the Party indirectly to prevent possible rebels. In the novel, Winston's neighbor Mr. Parson, an active advocate of the Party and its ideology, always boasts about his children's dedication and commitment to the Party. When Mr. Parson is imprisoned at the Ministry of Love for committing thoughtcrime he explains that his daughter reported him to the patrols, stating , "I don't bear any grudge for it...I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway" (Orwell 193). In the society of
and the modern day society of Palestine, children are brainwashed and manipulated to create a generation of adults who are loyal to their government's ideology. In
, this ensures political stabilty for the Party and in Palestine, this means that the Israel-Palestine conflict will continue.
The Israel-Palestine border,
(Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
Violent Methods of Interrogation
Instead of using technology to give its citizens a better quality of life as the IFRC suggests, the Party uses technology to exert control. The contrast between these two uses of technology demonstrates that technology itself is not good or evil; it is how it is used that determines if the impact is positive or negative.
Impact of Technology
Privacy and Public Safety
Recently there have been reports confirming that CIA officers have been using torture in order to extract information from prisoners. In comparison, in
the Party uses Room 101 as a torture chamber that subjects a person to his or her worst fear or phobia, with the objective of breaking down their resistance.
Confinement to small boxes
Weeks of sleep deprivation
Threatening to: harm children, or sexually abuse and cut the throat of prisoner's mothers
telescreens and microphones are present in all homes and public areas, recording the actions of all citizens to ensure the Party's rules are always followed. As extreme as this seems, it is not an unknown concept to most readers as many public places are now under video surveillance. In a publication from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, video surveillance is appropriate to "protect public safety, detect or deter, and assist in the investigation of criminal activity" (Cavoukian, 2007). In this situation, public safety is prioritized over an individual's desire for privacy.
According to the
examples of brutal interrogation used include:
Personal and Private Interests
In the novel
examples of brutal interrogation include:
, the Party uses surveillance to prevent and investigate criminal activity, including non-conformity to its politicial ideology, or "thoughtcrime". However, the Party also places video cameras in its citizen's homes and completely disregards privacy, while Canadian law attempts to maintain a reasonable level of privacy. In both scenarios, public interests outweigh an individual's desire for privacy.
Psychological manipulation (Brain-washing/Mind control)
Physical pain (beatings, electric shocks)
Use of phobias to cause fear
Potter, Mitch, and Michelle Shephard. ( 2014, December 10) CIA Lied about Torture Tactics, Report Reveals.
Toronto Star, pp. A1, A15.
Reasons for Torture
The CIA's reason for torturing the prisoners, which are mostly terrorists, is to obtain crucial, truthful, and relevent information. In the video by Time Magazine, Antonin Scalia explains that the need for this information justifies their actions.
In contrast, in
the Party only wants control over the individual's thoughts, and not one person leaves without being "changed" or "re-shaped." This is portrayed when O'Brien states, "Shall I tell you why we have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane! Will you understand, Winston, that no one whom we bring into this place ever leaves our hands uncured?" (Orwell 209). The Party does not seek information, it seeks psychological control.
The use of torture is problematic because it results in permanent psychological damage and physical injuries for the individual.
Thus, in both scenarios torture is used to control an individual, however, this is an ethical issue and to what extent it is acceptable must be determined.
Restrictions of Intimate Sexual Relations
, the Party has restricted sexual intercourse (once married) to be a duty to the Party, and should not have any emotions attached. This is portrayed when Winston says, "[The Party's] real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act... The only recognized purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of the Party..." (Orwell 57). Similarily, many countries have enforced restrictions on the notion of sexual intercourse as a result of religious views or political institutions. In Islam, pre-marital sex is considered an immoral act against the rights of Allah, and is a sin punishable by the Islamic court. For example, an Afghan couple was subjected to 100 lashes in public for having pre-marital sex (Zee News). In contrast, when Winston and Julia are caught by O'Brien, they are punished and tortured, because they have gone against the Party's rules of not being attracted to the individual with whom one has sex with. Therefore, in both instances the government controls and restricts sexual relations; if caught, the individuals suffer consequences such as physical torment and psychological manipulation.
"Hear Justice Scalia's views on the Senate's Torture Report"
An Endless War
In Orwell's novel,
, there is constant tension and a state of fear as a result of an endless war with enemies that are consistently changing. The same can be said for today's society, with the imminent threat of terrorist attacks, the possibility of a nuclear war, and conflicts between countries; humans all around the world are in constant states of fear and anxiety. There seems to be "no end in sight, a generalized societal fear, suspension of certain civil liberties, and an ill-defined enemy who could be anywhere, and anything..." (Beale). Most importantly, the government decides to hide crucial infomation from the public and manipulates language in order to subtly present a problem. As explained in the video, the US has been involved in war for nearly 215 consecutive years, and encounters new enemies and conflicts throughout the years. Thus, in both Oceania and today's society, the notion of an endless war is observed.
Nicks, D. (2014, December 12). Scalia Defends CIA Tactics After Torture Report. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://time.com/3632108/torture-report-antonin-scalia/
Israel Today staff. (2014, November 23). The Abusive Brainwashing of Palestinian Children. Israel Today. Retrieved from http://www.israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=25553
Zee News,. (2014). Afghan couple given 100 lashes for pre-marital sex. Retrieved 14 December 2014, from http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/afghan-couple-given-100-lashes-for-pre-marital-sex_1501383.html
Beale, L. (2013, August 3). We're living '1984' today. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/03/opinion/beale-1984-now/
Cavoukian, A. (2007). Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance Cameras in Public Places. Toronto: Privacy and Information Commissioner of Ontario.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1949. Print.
McGroarty, E. (2013, April 21). 1984 -Relevant to today? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbt9hvaa0NI
Throughout the novel, George Orwell displays a clear hierarchy that divides the society of Oceania. Big Brother is at the top of the hierarchy being the image and icon of the Party. Then there are the Inner Party members, followed by the Outer members and the Proles. The Inner Party treats the Proles as an inferior group just as the Iranian government discriminates against followers of the Baha'i religion. Even though the Proles compromise almost 85% of the population, through rigorous control over the citizens’ mindset, the Party is successfully able to portray the Proles as an unimportant social group. The Party asserts that the “proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals…” and consequently the Proles are left to live in detrimental conditions with minimal assistance from the government (Orwell 61).
The article highlights the prosecution of Baha’is in Iran. Baha’i followers are deemed to be “unclean”. A florist designer’s work permit is revoked for the sole reason that she is a Baha’i follower and her floral design is therefore, unclean. Moreover, children in Iran are raised to loath Baha’i followers. The article in Baha’i International Community states, “These Baha’i’s are dirty, they are unethical, they are unclean non-believers, do not dine with them, do not socialize with them, do not befriend them” (Baha'i World News Service). This shows the extent to which the Iranian government oppresses the Baha’i’s for their beliefs. The novel
also mirrors this violation of human rights. In contrast, the government in
targets the majority- the proles- as opposed to the minority.
In the case of Iran, the government targets religious minorities to ensure that Islam remains the country’s dominant religion and no other religion progresses. While in
, the Party constantly diminishes the Proles to ultimately maintain its power and prevent citizens from living a similar lifestyle.
New video documents Iranian government's sponsored violence against its own Baha'i citizens. (2013). Bahá'í World News Service. Retrieved from http://news.bahai.org/story/972
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,. (2013). Technology and the future of humanitarian action. Retrieved from http://worlddisastersreport.org/en/