What do you think when you hear the word brainwash? Many people think of fiction novels, conspiracy theories from history, or maybe even recall instances from the news and media. All of those people are correct; brainwashing occurs in society quite often and emerges in novels as a result. A prominent theme in Orwell’s 1984 is the idea of brainwashing Oceania’s citizens. The society and government start indoctrinating children with party ideals as soon as they possibly can, and adults have images of Big Brother surrounding them daily. Unfortunately, this does not only transpire in novels, but it also occurs in our society today. Brainwashing occurrences in the 20th and 21st century would entail the children of Cambodia, the Jonestown Massacre, and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Though brainwashing occurs commonly, it is brought into public eye every few decades through the media and news. Brainwashing is obviously a moral issue, so when an instance comes up, there is often hot debate about it. The dictionary definition according to Merriam Webster is “a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas”. In Orwell’s 1984 this definition is followed to the letter. The definition is also reflected in the child army in Cambodia, and cults like Jonestown and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Like in Orwell’s 1984, children in Cambodia are brainwashed from a young age by their leaders or other soldiers. The brainwashing of the children and adult citizens started when “The Communist Party of Kampuchea, Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, took full control of Cambodia on April 17, 1975” (Schabas). Under communist rule, people not only had their belongings taken from them, but also their rights, and eventually their own personal beliefs. The communist party did all they could to tear their country apart and one way they did so was to brainwash...
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