Anne Fung pens her thoughts about George Orwell’s 1984; Anne is also a graduate of Sekolah Aktivisme 2014!
My first George Orwell’s work was Animal Farm but it is the children’s version of 1984. “Animal Farm” is not as dark as “1984”. If you are a beginner to Orwellian work, try out “Animal Farm” before you read “1984”.
In the first few pages, I can feel the dystopia of the society. In the book, in the year 1984, at Oceania, society is governed by a dictator party, which no one can question its will and policy. Three slogans of this dictator party are, ‘War is Peace’, ‘Freedom is Slavery’ and ‘Ignorance is Strength’. In this article, I will to share my thoughts on these three slogans (of the party).
War is peace
Throughout human history, war have caused blood-shed. I know it is in our blood to own more – more power, more money, more land, more food and plenty of mores. Or perhaps, due to different ideologies and beliefs, we cannot see eye-to-eye with others. Hence, we wage war on others. However, it is indisputable to say that the peace we temporary achieve today is a consequence of wars. Due to the massive loss of human lives, destruction of infrastructures as well as a hit on the countries’ funds, people have come to realise the imperative of peace. Without war, we can never achieve peace.Hopefully we will always remember the price of war. Unfortunately, humans are forgetful creatures.
Freedom is Slavery
We live in a free society. We are free to make our choices in life. We are a free man or a free woman. However, are we really free? Since the day we are born till now, we follow the same routine. Like an obedient sheep, we obey society’s expectations – receive an education, get a job, build a family, retire, and die. And yet, we call ourselves a free human being.
As a society, we surrender our rights to the government for greater good. When we choose our government, we let that government determine policies – food, water, and education. We blindly follow the government’s will – for example, our food and water contain chemicals and education produces a majority of obedient sheep and a minority of outlaws. For greater good and a stable society, we enslave ourselves for the sake of freedom.
Ignorance is Strength
“Ignorance is bliss.” During my secondary school days, I still remember an incident – I was asked to name the characteristics of ancient Olympic sports. One of my answers was men ran naked in a marathon. It is a fact. If you do not believe it, go ahead and google it. And yet, my teacher did not give me a mark for that answer as that particular answer was not the textbook answer. This shows that a fact will not be accepted as truth as long as the authority (in this example, the textbook) does not recognise it as the correct one. In real life, by remain ignorant of certain issues, we are safe. Like the example above, if I did not know that fact, I might have written another answer. Ignorance is strength.
Let’s end the article with the most important concept of “1984”, which is doublethink. Doublethink is the power of simultaneously holding and accepting two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind. Even now, we doublethink. We live in a society that says education is important; however, higher education institutions charge us high tuition fees. We live in a free society but yet, most of us are bonded by money; we can never be free as long as we need to pay bills. Dreams and desires that cannot be fulfilled due to lack of funds. Human life is precious; yet, you become a hero if you kill your enemies in the battlefield. We humans, by nature are contradictory beings and hence, we doublethink in reality or in the book “1984”.
“1984” is a good read. However, if you dislike reading dark-themed books and a terrible ending, please do not read it.