The Dangers of a Totalitarian Dictatorship

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Soon after the conclusion of World War II in 1945, Communism posed a threat in the United States. This threat, also known as the Red Scare, was triggered because of the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. The tension between the two superpowers led to the beginning of the Cold War in the late 1940s. Because the Soviets were a communistic country, many Americans feared Communism because of the influence that it had in America. Many intellectuals supported Communism in the U.S. which led to more concern within the country. The communistic threat presented by the Soviets in the war led to the spread of Communism within the U.S. It was a fear that many Americans spoke out against in attempt to save the American society. George Orwell spoke out against it in 1949 by warning people in his novel 1984 that the spread of Communism would affect the country negatively. In this book, he portrays how a totalitarian dictatorship corrupts and has the power over citizens through technology, psychological manipulation and mind control, physical control, and the alteration of facts about history.

Big Brother, the head of the Inner Party in 1984, uses technology to control the middle-class citizens, known as the Outer Party. The government places telescreens and hidden microphones across the city in order to monitor their citizen's behavior. The members of the Outer Party have telescreens inside their houses because their intelligence creates a threat against the government. However, the Proles, who make up the lower class, do not obtain much attention because they are hopeless and ignorant and do not pose a significant threat against the government. The government uses telescreens because they want to prevent their citizens from committing thought crime. Thought crime is the law against thinking and is punishable by death. If the government charges someone of thought crime, they use machinery to torture them. If they do not follow the rules of Big Brother, the government kills them. However, if the torture forces them to give in and follow Big Brothers' laws, they usually survive as in Winston Smith's case. Winston is the protagonist of the novel who becomes a victim of torture. As the novel begins, Winston keeps his thoughts secretive because of the fear of getting caught. He has to hide in a secret room in order to write his thoughts in his diary. In public, he abides by the rules of the government in order to survive, but yet, his private thoughts haunt him in the end as he becomes a victim of technology. O'Brien, an agent of the Inner Party, is suspicious of his activity and tricks Winston and his lover Julia into expressing their thoughts. When Winston and Julia meet with O'Brien, O'Brien says, "I think it is fitting that we should begin by drinking a health. To our Leader: To Emmanuel Goldstein." (141) Goldstein is the leader of the Brotherhood, which is the Inner Party's enemy. Winston and Julia agree with O'Brien and swear loyalty to the Brotherhood. Since O'Brien turns off his telescreen, they think that the government is not watching them, but the government is examining their behavior by means of hidden microphones and cameras inside the room. By swearing loyalty to the Brotherhood and drinking wine, which the government does not allow, they become enemies of the Inner Party. A couple days later, they finally realize that the government has been watching them when a voice repeats them from a secret telescreen saying "You are the dead." (182) Mr. Charrington, the owner of the antique shop where Winston and Julia meet privately, enters their room revealing that he is a special agent for the Thought Police. They are now "dead" because they are caught committing thought crime. Winston and Julia are found guilty of thought crime because of the machinery that the government uses. George Orwell is showing how technology is a dominant way of controlling people's lives.

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