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American In Crisis - The Real Issues
Orwell's 1984 Book
July 22, 2004
David Lawrence Dewey
"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
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George Orwell's 1984 Book:
Orwell first published 1984 in 1949. The following is an excerpt of the analysis (14 pages) of George Orwells book "1984" by Erich Fromm, a great psychologist/humanitian. Fromm wrote the "afterward" in 1961.
"George Orwell's 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it."
The mood of hopelessness about the future of man is in marked contrast to one of the most fundamental features of Western thought: the faith in human progress and in man's capacity to create a world of justice and peace. However, man's inhumanity to one another continues. Hope for man's individual and social perfectibility, which in philosophical and anthropological terms is clearly expressed in the writings of the enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth century and socialist thinkers of the nineteenth, remained unchanged until after the First World War.
The first World War, in which millions died for the territorial ambitions of the European powers, although under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy, was the beginning of that development which tended in a relative tradition of hope and to transform it into a mood of despair. The moral indifference to his fellow man of the First World War was only the beginning. These other events followed.
The betrayal of the socialist hopes by Stalin's reactionary state capitalism created a nightmare for survival for some. The severe economic crisis at the end of the twenties led to the victory of barbarism in one of the oldest centers of culture in the world. Germany which was the insanity of Stalinist terror during the thirties and the Second World War was the beginning of the end in which all the fighting nations lost some of the moral considerations which had still existed in the First World War. What was that? It was the unlimited destruction of civilian populations started by Hitler.
In Huxley's Brave new World, and in 1984, both depict the completely bureaucratized society, in which man is a number and loses all sense of individuality. This is brought about by a mixture of unlimited terror and is used by politicians. In Huxley's work the main tool for turning man into an automaton is the application of hypnoid mass suggestion using fear as its weapon. The basic question is a philosophical, anthropological and psychological one, and perhaps also a religions one.
Can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love...or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs be attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one?.
In Huxley's Brave New World (to dehumanize man) artificial biological selection and drugs are necessary, and in Orwell's 1984 it is the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing..
The contribution of Orwell which is most immediately relevant for the year 1961 and for the next five to fifteen years is the connection he makes between the dictatorial society of 1984 and atomic war. Keep in mind that Orwell wrote the book before the discovery of thermonuclear weapons. The atomic bomb which was dropped on the Japanese cities seems small and ineffective when compared with the mass slaughter achieved by thermonuclear weapons. These weapons have the capacity to wipe out 90 percent or 100 percent of a country's population within minutes.
Most importantly, Orwell showed the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function. It will collapse without it. Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents. Orwell's picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a "stable" deterrent because the military will become dominate using fear and hatred of a possible aggressor. The problem is, this thinking will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society".
President/General Eisenhower himself warned of the rise of the "industrial military complex", in one of his speeches.
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