An Omnipotent Government: Utopia or Dystopia?
“Utopia: an idealized place of perfection or a visionary scheme for a perfect society” (Agnes). However, what if the ideals of utopia result in the seeds of dystopia? What if a government that is able to rule a perfect society, oversteps its bounds and causes destruction of freedom? In the dystopian novels 1984, A Brave New World, and The Giver, the government controls every thought, every fear, every story, and every emotion. These novels warn of the threat of a government that becomes too involved in its citizens’ lives. When citizens allow themselves to be uncaring and uninformed about their government, the ultimate price is freedom and liberty. These novels show that freedom is much to high a cost; momentary contentment should never come at the expense of liberty. Adolf Hitler once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed” (Huxley). Propaganda is a very powerful tool that can be used for good or evil. In 1984 the Party’s slogan, “WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH,” convinces its citizens that they want what the government has given them: war, slavery, and ignorance (Orwell). They do not want freedom because it is slavery. They are made to believe that peace and serenity come only during war. They are uninformed about their world, and this gives them strength. This type of government propaganda controls what citizens think by controlling what is heard on the radio, the television, the newspaper, and all other forms of media. In A Brave New World, propaganda is not only forced on citizens through media, but also during sleep. At the time Huxley wrote his novel, a new technique of “sleep learning” had become popular. The technique hypnopaedia was an interesting concept but actually caused negative behavior. Huxley used this in his novel as a form of government brainwashing. In A Brave New World, those in power used “sleep learning” to instill their beliefs in the citizenry of London (Clareson). This “sleep learning” is a type of non-rational propaganda. Huxley compares the two kinds of propaganda, rational and non-rational. Rational propaganda appeals to a person’s own best interest. Rational propaganda can only be used in a society where people have reason and morals. They could use the propaganda to rationalize what is in their best interest. Nevertheless in a society without reason or morals, what kind of propaganda is effective? Non-rational propaganda appeals not to any person’s best interest, but to their emotions. “The power to respond to reason and truth exist in all of us. On the other hand, unfortunately, does the tendency to respond to unreason and falsehood—particularly in cases where the falsehood evokes some enjoyable emotion” (Huxley 265). Huxley applies Hitler’s rule that the behavior of the masses is not determined by knowledge, but by feelings and innate drives. The propaganda in A Brave New World appeals to passion instead of reason (Clareson). Punishment is a powerful method of controlling any person. The fear of something that causes pain or unhappiness is usually an effective way to keep a person from rebelling. In The Giver, the fear of “release” or death kept all the citizens from breaking any rules. Even a simple mistake could cost a life. When a pilot in training accidentally flew over the city, the elders comforted the citizens, “Needless to say, he will be released” (Lowery 21). The citizens in The Giver did not understand that “release” meant death, but they could comprehend that it was not a desirous thing. In Lowery’s novel, no one broke rules. When Jonas’ father looked at the name of a baby before the naming ceremony, Jonas was shocked. He could not believe his father had broken a rule. In 1984, many people were hanged for a crime. “Thought Crime” was punishable by death. The Thought Police could not watch everyone’s thoughts simultaneously, but if they came across a...
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