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Introduction to 1984

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Chris Webb

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of Introduction to 1984

George Orwell's
"Animal Farm"
Slumming in London and Paris
Spanish Civil War
"I've come to fight against Fascism."
“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”
Death from Tuberculosis
Bengal, India
Indian Imperial Police
Hated for being poor; goes back to England
fas·cism [fash-iz-uhm]–noun:
a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
an ideally perfect society, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects, coined from Greek words and means “no place.”
The Orwellian World
Airstrip 1
3 Classes of People in Oceania
Inner Party—the small power-seeking and government controlling group
Outer Party—more numerous; highly indoctrinated
Proles—large body of politically meaningless and mindless citizens
"The only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year"
Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking—"thoughtcrime", or "crimethink" in the newest edition of Newspeak—impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion, and so on.
What's the point?
2 + 2 = 5
'Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists. The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened, well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five, well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.'
-George Orwell
The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four exists in a state of perpetual war between the three major powers. At any given time, two of the three states are aligned against the third; however, as Goldstein's book points out, each Superstate is so powerful that even an alliance of the other two cannot destroy it, resulting in a continuing stalemate. From time to time, one of the states betrays its ally and sides with its former enemy. In Oceania, when this occurs, the Ministry of Truth rewrites history to make it appear that the current state of affairs is the way it has always been, a perfect example of doublethink.
very (x2)
World War II
Cold War
Anti-Fascist writing of the 1930s and 1940s
Power struggle between Leon Trotsky (Minister of War) & Joseph Stalin (Secretary of the Communist party)
Stalin utilized the secret police to put down all plots against him.
Trotsky was forced to resign as Minister of War; later expelled from the Politbureau, exiled from Russia, and eventually assassinated by one of Stalin’s secret police.
Leads to Stalin's supreme power (collective agriculture, industrialization with forced labor, the build-up of the authoritarian state, annihilation of all political opposition).
Stalin rewrites history to show that Lenin (predecessor) had favored his accession to power.
translated into more than 60 languages,
two movies,
presented on television
“Orwellian” = to any regimented and dehumanized society.
"Big Brother is watching you"
Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451"
Anthony Burgess’s "A Clockwork Orange"
Eric Blair
"Politics and the English Language"
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms,
like a cuttlefish spurting out ink
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
Orwell's 6 Rules
"Politics and the English Language"?
The basic idea behind Newspeak is to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink) which reinforce the total dominance of the State. A staccato rhythm of short syllables was also a goal, further reducing the need for deep thinking about language. Successful Newspeak meant that there would be fewer and fewer words – dictionaries would get thinner and thinner.
"By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
Full transcript