1984 by George Orwell
Marxism In the Novel 1984 Throughout time, rulers and controlling governments have used the ideas of Marxism to take and maintain control over the working class. Even today ideas such as classism and commodification are used in countries such as North Korea and Syria to help governments rule over their citizens. In George Orwell’s 1984 the ideas of Marxism are used to oppress proletariats.
The Party tricks the citizens of Oceania into thinking that their propaganda benefits the working class, classism is used as a means of allowing the Party and its associates more power and control than the average citizen, and people under the Party’s rule are commoditized physically and psychologically so as to not questions their totalitarian government. Through the use of propaganda, the Party has tricked its citizens into believing that their controlling ways benefit proletariats, when in fact they only allow this oppressive government even more power.
The Party uses the Ministry of Truth to reconstruct the media as well as literature past and present so that all information available to the public provides a positive image of the government. 1 “And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the Party, but also to repeat the whole operation [of reconstructing media and literature] at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. ” (Orwell, 45). The Ministry of Truth reconstructs the media and literature as a means of meeting and exceeding the Party’s needs as well as to sneakily trick proletariats into oppression.
In addition, Junior Spies is sold to the adults of Oceania as a program to better raise their children when it is in fact the Party’s way to condition future generations to not turn against them as well as to monitor and report anybody who shows disloyalty to the government. 2 “Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. ” (Orwell, 26).
Junior Spies creates miniature mind-controlled monsters that obey anything told to them by the Party, even if it means turning on their own families, while the parents of these children are tricked into believing that their children are benefiting from this life-sucking program. Via the use of organizations such as the Ministry of Truth and Junior Spies, the Party has made their citizens believe that propaganda is beneficial to proletariats when it in fact controls every aspect of their lives. Classism is used by the Party to provide those at the top of the government more power than the average citizen, leading to their oppression.
By being forced into poverty, the people of Oceania have been placed into a lower class and oppressed by those at the top of the Party. 3 “Winston wrenched his body out of bed – naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only three thousand clothing coupons annually, and a suit of pyjamas was six hundred – and seized a dingy singlet and a pair of shorts that were lying across a chair. ” (Orwell, 33). The tiny amount of currency provided by the Party to its citizens doesn’t allow for people to purchase quality supplies and resources, demoralizing the public and allowing them to easily become oppressed victims of classism.
Even those who work for the government are politically disenfranchised and have no idea that their work is helping to further strengthen those who are already politically powerful. 4 “It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brothers’ speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. ” (Orwell, 41). A politically weak Winston doesn’t understand the full effects of rewriting one paragraph so that it shows Big Brother – the leader of the Party – as correct on a speech concerning an issue involving a war that Oceania was involved in.
By rewriting this speech Winston makes Big Brother look more credible and allows him an easy opportunity to gain more political power, creating more class distinction and greater oppression from the Party. Being both financially and politically powerless, the average people of Oceania are clearly in a lower social class than those at the top of the Party and are forced to lead strictly controlled lives. The physical and psychological commoditization of the citizens of Oceania prevents anybody from questioning the actions of their totalitarian government.
The feelings of hatred created within people by the Party are channelled into intense protests against the Partys’ enemies called “Two Minutes Hate”. These protests cause people to forget about the constant fear that they are under because of the Party, and instead fear their governments’ enemies and obey Big Brother as a means of protection. 5 “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining it. ” (Orwell, 16).
The Two Minutes Hate being impossible to avoid joining despite not being mandatory illustrates further the hatred and fear instilled in the citizens of Oceania by the Party and how these terrible feelings are turned drastically in favour of the government by being redirected at political enemies which may not even exist. The dependence on the government that this manipulation creates prevents anybody from questioning the actions of Big Brother and turns peoples’ feelings into something of use, advantage, and profit for the Party, which by definition makes them a commodity.
Also, the Party uses torture to convince any citizens who show a lack of loyalty that nothing is more powerful than physical pain, which gives the Party control over people’s actions – making their bodies a commodity. 6 “At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there’s no other way of saving yourself and you’re quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don’t give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself. ” (Orwell, 305).
Julia says this to Winston, explaining that the Party had used physical torture to turn the two of them against each other and that all they cared about in that moment of pain was themselves. With enough physical torture people can be rid of all emotions towards anybody else, making them easy to psychologically manipulate and then physically control as Winston was. With the Party having physical control over them, the bodies of the citizens of Oceania become the commodity of the Party. With their bodies and minds as commodities of the Party, nobody could question the reign of Big Brother, oppressing the proletariats of Oceania.
In Orwell’s 1984 the Party oppresses the proletariats of its society through the ideas of Marxism. The Party clearly uses propaganda as a means of control, but convinces citizens that this propaganda in fact benefits the working class. This propaganda creates class distinctions, which allow for classism to be used as a means of increasing the power held by the government of Oceania over its people. Being made totally powerless, the Party then psychologically and physically transforms the proletariats into their commodities. Orwell provides us with warnings about the dangers of ppressive forms of government such as Marxism and totalitarianism by showing us the worst-case scenario of a government that has taken absolute power over its citizens. To avoid making the mistakes made in countries such as North Korea and Syria, everybody must understand the dangers of controlling governments. Once people truly know how bad the situations in countries under this type of rule can be, everyone as a whole will be able to make a strong effort towards putting an end to this oppression and bringing peace to powerless proletariats everywhere. Works Cited 1 Orwell, George. Operation of Reconstructing Literature” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 45. 2 Orwell, George. “Children Turned Into Savages” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 26. 3 Orwell, George. “Very Few Clothes for Members of Outer Party” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 33. 4 Orwell, George. “Rewriting Newspaper Article to Benefit Big Brother” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 41. 5 Orwell, George. “Impossible to Avoid Joining Two Minutes Hate” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 16. 6 Orwell, George. “People Only Care About Themselves” 1984. Penguin Books. London, England: 1949. 305.