The Serious Danger of Totalitarianism

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In writing 1984, Orwell's main goal was to warn of the serious danger totalitarianism poses to society. He goes to great lengths to demonstrate the terrifying degree of power and control a totalitarian regime can acquire and maintain. In such regimes, notions of personal rights and freedoms and individual thought are pulverized under the all-powerful hand of the government. Orwell was a Socialist and believed strongly in the potential for rebellion to advance society, yet too often he witnessed such rebellions go wrong and develop into totalitarian rule. Specifically, Orwell saw such developments during his time in Spain and in Russia, where he witnessed the rise of communism and the accompanying destruction of civil liberties, honest government, and economic strength.

A major factor in the Party's rule over Oceania lies in its extremely well organized and effective propaganda machine. The Ministry of Truth, which is ironically where Winston works, is responsible for disseminating all Party publications and information. All figures and facts come from the Ministry of Truth, and all are dictated by the Party. In other words, the Party chooses exactly what to tell the public, regardless of what is accurate. The effectiveness of this propaganda machine, which constantly corrects old material to reflect the Party's current position on any subject ranging from chocolate rations to the loyalty of a specific individual, allows the Party to completely dominate the range of information disseminated to the public. Therefore, as O'Brien notes, the machine determines what constitutes reality. In addition to the massive amounts of doctored information the Party disseminates to the public, there are also basic forms of propaganda, such as the Two Minutes Hate, Hate Week, posters of Big Brother, and required daily participation in the Physical Jerks. The Party uses literally every waking opportunity to instill its ideals into its citizens, and is strikingly successful in...
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