Since the beginning of time, man has always been a control freak. He has created and destroyed nations, people and the Earth—truly demonstrating the sheer potential of the human race. It is his nature, however, to be controlling and manipulative. This human predisposition is prominent in George Orwell’s 1984 and the 2011 Arab Spring Revolutions, where authoritarian power is taken to an extreme. In both instances, the people of Oceania and the Middle East are forced upon unfair and dangerous living conditions—in which they are manipulated of their human nature through their freedom and knowledge.
Liberty is a God-given right to all humans; however, different nations have different interpretations of this ideology. People are dispossessed from this in both 1984 and the Arab Spring. In Oceania, Big Brother plays the higher power and operates in a totalitarian state of control, removing all freedom from the people through manipulation of language through the “Newspeak” language. For instance, the caption: “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (Orwell, 2), is scattered throughout London, where the plot takes place. This slogan hints that mass surveillance is widespread and thus no one is unseen or safe. To be secluded away and sheltered is a sensation of freedom—it allows for one to feel safe and secure. Since this feeling of state does not exist in this dystopia, people lack security and thus their freedom. For that matter, some people feel an urge to rebel against this leader. In this case, main character Winston writes five times in his journal, “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (Orwell, 19), expressing his feelings he has towards the freedom he is being stripped of and thus wishes to overthrow the higher power. The 2011 Arab Spring displays this same pattern. The revolutions began when, “Not one official could ever claim to be for freedom while offering support to repression” (Karam, 1). Many of these Arabic countries operate in a state that forces citizens into submission and control. Additionally this author further explains that, “Obviously those that resort to twisted logic in their efforts to rationalize acts of oppression and dehumanization should know better since it is crystal clear that opposing liberty and freedom will only result in greater exploitation and greater violations of all principles of dignity and freedom” (Karam, 1). Essentially, the current revolutions in this region are a result of the higher power denying the people’s natural rights—a perfect example of manipulation of human nature. The question that now remains is: how much can a higher power change a peoples’ natural behavior? As Erich Fromm indicates, “Can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love—that is to say, can man forget that he is human?” (Fromm, 329). Clearly in 1984 and the 2011 Arab Spring, both societies end up rebelling against their government. Therefore, the answer to that question is: yes, but only to a certain extent. This is because another natural human characteristic is to be rebellious and aggressive. Although both the people of the Arab republics and Oceania fought back, they still have lost their privilege in retaining their freedoms and rights.
Knowledge is power and man innately seeks power. Without knowledge exists senselessness and lack of rationality. This act of hindering knowledge from people is prevalent in both cases, 1984 and the Arab Spring. In 1984, the Newspeak language has a tremendous impact on the actions and thoughts of the people. Orwell explains, “It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well” (Orwell, 52). This is to say that manipulation of words and letters in 1984 is an attempt to control the masses. It absolutely changes the direction of knowledge and thought. In the novel, Syme explains that, “The whole aim...
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