Beckett: Review – 1984: A Prophetic Book on the Doublethink of Today’s Liberals

Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Penguin Group, ©Harcourt Brace and Company, 1949
Rating: 5/5 stars

Review

WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

These are the phrases—or doublethink—to keep in mind as one is reading this prophetic book. 1984 takes horror to a whole new level. Not bloody, mindless killing horror, but a societal horror as well as a psychological horror. I do not know what Orwell’s intentions were with writing this book—and I haven’t read any scholarly articles on it—but after reading the book, the reader cannot help but feel that Orwell wrote this as a warning. Indeed, many aspects of the society he created in this book appears convincingly prophetic of what today’s Democratic Party desires, even though I highly doubt he was purposefully targeting the Democratic Party.

1984 is a dystopian setting. There are no physical human leaders. Only the Party is in charge (more on this in a little bit). Big Brother is the personification of the Party; he is not a real person. The Party brainwashes the people into believing he’s a real person because it’s easier to love a person than it is to love an organisation. The society of Oceania is dystopian in that it is a perfectly totalitarian state which makes Hitler and Stalin silly in comparison to the Party. Essentially, it is really perfected Socialism, which today’s Left is screaming for. The Party even admits it perfected Socialism.

The Party—the state—controls everything. I do not mean “everything” as a hyperbole, but literally everything. The party controls jobs, what people eat and drink, sleeping, what people talk about and think, and even procreating. Disobedience to the Party and even aversion for the Party can be detected through various, meticulous methods: the Thought Police, ubiquitous telescreens that cannot be turned off and can record everything you do and say, and even your own children who will not hesitate to turn you over to the Thought Police. Even individualism is a crime. So, language is in the process of being modified, called Newspeak, in order to eliminate any possibility of self-expression.

As I say this, this might seem impossible. Surely this cannot happen, right? Maybe. But this is also a fiction. Reading the book also reveals how exactly the Party is so successful in controlling everything. Their mantra is, “Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.” The Party literally rewrites history. Not just once, but multiple times. The Party, for example, has claimed for itself the invention of the airplane. It rewrites Shakespearian plays and all other forms of literature, then rewrites those same plays and novels over again. It convinces the people that there has never been a time in history the Party has not existed. There is no absolute truth. The only truth there is is what the Party says. The Party can literally make you believe that black is white, white is black, and 2+2=5. 

This is similar to today’s Left. For example, the people of the Left have convinced themselves that male is female, and female is male. To them, gender is undefined since there is no absolute truth. Absolute truth has no claim on gender. If one is a male and believes he’s a female, then he is, and vice versa. One can even claim to be neither, and thus call themselves “non-binary,” even though DNA empirically shows gender to be binary. The Left makes these claims in the name of “science,” even though science proves the contrary. In 1984’s Party, they eliminate religion and science. The Left is doing the same. Their science is not truly science, even though they claim it to be.

Moving on, I started off with the three phrases, which are doublethink. It is important to understand what these mean as one reads the book. The first: WAR IS PEACE. In the 1984 universe, the world exists in three states as the aftermath of World War II: Oceania (the British Isles, the Americas, the Pacific, and Australia), Eurasia (Europe and Russia), and Eastasia (Japan, Korea, China, and northern India).

It is important to know all three states hold similar dystopian ideologies. The Party of Oceania, the locale of 1984, convinces the people that perpetual war is how peace is maintained. War produces devotion to one’s country and a willingness to give to one’s community over the self, that is, self-sacrifice to the government. So, if there is perpetual war, the people are constantly giving and sacrificing devotion to their government. This makes it easier for the Party to keep the people in line and control them. Thus, WAR IS PEACE. This might seem silly to us, but the point is that it actually works in this fictional novel. And it might not be so impossible as we might think. An important thing to also remember is that the Party is so successful because it brainwashes the people (again, read the whole book to understand).

The second doublethink: FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. This means that the only way a person can be free is by abandoning all forms of individual identity and finding your identity only in the Party. If you do this, you will be immortal because the Party is immortal. In reality, the slavery of the Party members (and they are slaves, though they do not know it) means freedom for the Party leaders. The Party has brainwashed the people so much that literally nobody knows anything different than their current state of living. No one knows what it’s like to live what we might call American freedom because they no longer remember.

As the older generations who could remember are dying, the next generation are those who have been born during the Party’s regime, and thus know nothing different than their current condition especially because their parents and grandparents have been brainwashed not to remember. So, how can a people imagine freedom when they have no idea what it is? The Party does brainwashing through intimidation and torture, but also in more subtle ways.

For example, the Party encourages women to be celibate and not engage in sensual pleasure and not pursue relationships because you become enslaved to your senses and emotions. The Party has convinced society to believe with them that there can be no freedom in sex and relationships because they invariably cause suffering and unhappiness, which causes a person to constantly think about their suffering and unhappiness. According to the Party, this is not freedom.

So, the Party has convinced society that the freedom of individual action (and thinking) means you are actually enslaved to those sensual pleasures and emotions. Therefore, if you are free, you are actually a slave (and ironically the people are enslaved to the Party, which the Party knows but the people do not). The only time members of the Party are encouraged to have sex is for designated times with their spouse for the mere purpose of procreating, and the Party has brainwashed these people to take all forms of pleasure in the act. The people literally view sex as disgusting, and so they are incapable of taking pleasure in it and will not seek it unless commanded to procreate.

The last doublethink: IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. The true meaning of this can be read as, “Your ignorance is our strength.” The Party believes the socioeconomic classes of high, middle, and low will always exist. We call these classes the wealthy, middle class, and the poor. As the Party sees it, the middle desires to be the high, so they’ll enlist the low in their cause to gain their high status. The middle usurps the status of the high and leaves the low in their status. So, the middle becomes high, the high becomes middle, and the low remains low. Then the cycle repeats after a generation or so. The high and low classes uphold the law, and the low (the proletariats) are too stupid to revolt.

Furthermore, the Party believes keeping the people ignorant of their condition will keep them the happiest. So, the people can be happy with their condition and remain loyal to the Party because they are too ignorant to know there can be anything better, thanks to the brainwashing of the Party. It is the job of the Party’s workers (the Inner Party) to deceive the people.

For example, the protagonist, Winston, works in the Ministry of Truth that works arduously to rewrite history and distort facts to keep the people ignorant. (The Ministry of Truth, and the three other Ministries, are doublethinks in and of themselves; e.g. it is called the Ministry of Truth even though its sole purpose is to create lies.) Maintaining the peoples’ ignorance is especially important to the Party because if they know the truth about the Party, they would rebel. Hence the true meaning of this doublethink, “Your ignorance is our strength.”

Review Conclusion (Spoilers!)

If you do not wish the end of the book to be spoiled, please skip this part and continue to the next section about parallelisms between the doublethinks in 1984 and today’s liberals.

A large part of what made me love this book so much is the lack of a happy ending. Many books, films, and video games have happy endings because, quite frankly, in reality we don’t always get happy endings. So, in our creative writing across various platforms we write happy endings to get a break from our not so happy endings. It makes us feel good, which is all fine and dandy.

Yet as a creative writer myself, I am more appreciative of stories that do not have happy endings because they tend to be far more realistic. That is, they better reflect reality. This is why I loathe romance movies and romantic comedies because they are laughably unrealistic. Same thing with Disney. It is utterly ridiculous to enjoy a movie where a woman falls in love with a handsome man she doesn’t even know and runs off into the sunset with him on horseback. We don’t even know for sure if they even live happily ever after; we’re given no evidence. Perhaps “happily ever after” is itself a doublethink…

Anyway, the end of 1984 leaves us with disappointment and some haunting questions. This disappointment didn’t affect my rating because the book was so well written that the end is fitting. I found myself rooting for Winston, and if you’ve read it, you may have as well. The Party, obviously, is the antagonist. It is the tyrant. And Winston and his forbidden love affair, Julia, have the audacity to disobey and be individuals.

But they lose.

The last sentence of the book still haunts me. Winston dies and it ends with, “He loved Big Brother.” Ouch. After that, we are left with two questions. At least I was. The first is: Is the Party truly invincible? As we read of Winston and Julia’s rebellion, and their contact with the enigmatic O’Brien, we start to believe that the Party really isn’t invincible—that a rebellion is possible and the Party can be defeated!

Then we find out otherwise. O’Brien was a member of the Thought Police all long. He’s been watching Winston for the past seven years. During Winston’s torture (or “learning” as O’Brien called it) and “education,” it appears as if O’Brien—and thus the Party—can read Winston’s mind. But how? We don’t know. Perhaps they came up with some device to make this possible? That is my guess because Winston alludes to it, but to his knowledge at the time there was no such technology.

So, is the Party truly invincible? It is hard to say. And it is quite convincing that they are.

This leads me to the next question I was left with: will the proles eventually rise up and rebel? Winston, in his heresy, was convinced they would, whether that would be a thousand years or less. But O’Brien—the Party—convinces Winston this is an impossible feat in a thousand years, even a million years. And we along with Winston believe him. 

So, Winston failed. He betrayed Julia. He said he would always love her, but now he loves Big Brother. Is Winston’s heretical hope that the proles will rise and rebel and cause the Party to collapse be possible? We cannot know. All we can do is hope in our own heresy against the Party.

The Doublethink of Today’s Left

The most indicative parallel between 1984’s term doublethink and today’s Left is the Left’s “tolerance.” The Left preaches tolerance of other people’s beliefs and practices, but this tolerance is not extended to the beliefs and practices of conservatives and especially Christians. The Party’s doublethink, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, truly means “Your ignorance is our strength.” Likewise, the Left’s doublethink, TOLERANCE, truly means, “Tolerance of liberal beliefs.”

We see the Left’s doublethink in more practical ways when they praise a Liberal’s right to deny service to a Christian, but not a Christian baker’s right to deny service to a homosexual wedding due to religious beliefs. More recently, we also see this when the Left gets angry with children being separated from their parents at the Mexican border (even though fraudulent parenthood at the border has increased by 314% and the separation is done when crime is suspected or known in order to protect the children), but the Left advocates killing children in the womb and destroying families that way.

I’m going to continue with a list of doublethinks among the Left today:

  • “Race is a social construct.” Yet they will say white people are indubitably evil and racist.
  • Many leftists (and conservatives) believe in evolution. Yet they believe all people were created equally. This is doublethink because of a tenet of evolution called survival of the fittest. The strongest and fittest survive and kill off the weak. This is natural, and therefore acceptable. This is natural among animals, and since human beings are only animals according to evolution, it logically follows that it must be natural and acceptable among us as well for the strongest and fittest to kill off the weak. So, as far as evolution is concerned, no one is created equally. Therefore, to accept evolution it is necessary to approve this tenet even as it applies to humans. To believe this tenet yet claim all people were created equally is doublethink.
  • In repealing the 2nd Amendment, the Left claims only the police should have guns. Yet they also claim the police to be fascists.
  • Speaking of fascists, the Left claims conservatives to be fascists. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fascism as, “a political philosophy, movement, or regime… that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” That last one defines the Left well, especially the domestic terrorist group they’ve long supported called Antifa. The Left, along with Antifa, demand the suppression of conservative beliefs and practices in opposition to their beliefs through force. They call conservatives fascists whilst they themselves are being fascist.
  • The Left believes capitalism is evil whilst they complain about it on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops, which they have thanks to capitalism.
  • Fox News and all other conservative news channels are biased whilst MSNBC and other liberal news channels are not. (All news channels are biased. In fact, nobody can be unbiased. Not even I’m unbiased here.)
  • The Left believes oppression of women is wrong. Of course, it is wrong, but they promulgate this belief whilst sweaty, hairy feminists oppress men and do not decry Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia where women have no rights and get acid thrown on their faces just for not subjugating to an arranged marriage or talking to another man without permission.
  • The Left believes it is wrong to objectify women. This, too, is wrong, but they have no quarrels with the porn industry and magazines like Playboy who make money off of objectifying women, which continues to teach men it’s okay to objectify women. These are supported under the mantra, “Women can do whatever they want with their bodies.” So, basically it’s okay to objectify women so long as it’s the women’s choice.
  • Speaking of choice, the Left claims to be pro-choice but deny the choice of responsible citizens to own firearms as well as the choice of people to oppose their beliefs.
  • The Left believes it’s racist to dislike Obama. Yet it’s not racist to dislike Black Republicans since the Republican Party has apparently “deceived” them. Basically, black people cannot have a mind of their own and believe what they want to believe. I’m pretty sure that’s called racism.
  • The Left believe the death penalty is wrong, but not if the human being is still in the womb.
  • The Left says terrorism doesn’t define Islam, but apparently mass shootings define conservatives.
  • The Left claims to support free speech, but they do not support the freedom of conservatives to speak their minds on the Internet and at private and public colleges.
  • The Left supports women equality, which means women getting hired over men just because they’re women.
  • The Left supports racial quality, but demand minorities get first pick over white people.

This is a long list, but it is not exhaustive. I listed it merely as a warning of the Democratic Party. Hate me or love me. But at least give it 5 minutes.

In the meantime, please enjoy this brilliant performance of my high school marching band back in 1999. This was the 1999 Bands of America finals performance titled “ThoughtCrime, Music for an Orwellian Era,” based on 1984. We won first place this year.

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