Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart” (Naked Eye View).
When investigating the integrity of the overly patriotic country of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984, one discovers that there is an extreme lack of regard for the values which modern day citizens typically cherish. In Oceania, rudimentary concepts such as independent thought, the right to privacy and free speech are nonexistent. Is there anything to be learned from such an undesirable form of society? Alarming connections can be made to real-world government activities inside the United States when you take a close look at the cruel and unusual world of Oceania. Many of the authoritarian notions inside the world of 1984 would hit modern day people of free nations as being out of control.
Such total violations of individual liberties would most likely cause most American citizens to be loaded with a powerful desire to bring about a change in their government, and a sense of frustration and anger. Can you imagine how the United States’ citizens would respond if telescreens were abruptly to become a part of their everyday living? These devices play an important role in 1984, as they supervise the citizens virtually everywhere they go and cannot ever actually be turned off, unless you’re a high government status. It was one of the prime devices utilized in catching Winston, and numerous other people who committed crimes against the government (Orwell 197).
However, oftentimes the misdeeds that are being pledged are not actions of rape, killing, or abuse. Instead, the telescreens are assisting to lock away people who do not take part in their mandatory morning activities, or unintentionally mutter a negative comment about their leader, to them only known as “Big Brother” (Orwell 28). The madness of Oceania does not halt with just telescreens, however.
The Party assists to regulate the general sentiment of its constituents by taking entire command of the production of, well, most everything. Novels, razor blades, TV, coffee, pornography, gin and chocolate are all made and distributed by the government. If citizens are able to find it from an outside source, it’s looked upon as illegal contraband. Time is even controlled by the Party. Through a method Orwell calls “doublethink,” the Party psychologically manipulates its people to accept a certain taught history, even when the reality appears like it should be apparent to a most of the people (Orwell 31). It’s not hard to glimpse that the world depicted in 1984 is one where the government sustains unjust command of every aspect of one’s life.A lot of readers might see many of the notions in the novel 1984 as being far-fetched in a society such as the United States.
However, citizens should not be so quick to brush aside Orwell’s concepts as being absolutely fictional. While telescreens are not precisely supervising us every second of the day, numerous individuals are likely ignorant of how public most of their personal life actually is. Between security cameras and computers, it actually is not too hard for a member of government to keep notes of what somebody does every day. Students of most universities likely cannot stroll to a single classroom without bypassing a camera, and numerous people are way too computer illiterate to halt a PC from transmitting anything personal to any large corporation or form of government agencies. Orwell’s “thought police” appear to be emerging right in front of the public’s eyes too. It was not all that long ago when an anti-war t-shirt worn by a man caused him to be asked to leave a shopping mall near Albany, New York. When he objected to leave, the security officers arrested him.
How is this any different than Winston being arrested for holding a journal that conveyed his disapproval for Big Brother? Even though the man apprehended at Cross Gates mall wasn’t tortured for his demeanor, it should still be clear that he was singled out as a risk by administration because of a simple belief, and hence had to be detained. Some contend that this specific case isn’t noteworthy because the shopping mall is a private institution. The police asking him to leave the shopping mall, according to some, are like a private residence asking somebody to leave their home. A weak argument is what this is, but even if it is legitimate, then how would somebody support the activities of Bellbrook High School, when a student got sent home for wearing a t-shirt with contradictory remarks about President Bush on it? Even the method of doublethink isn’t too far from the reality at times. How many young children are educated that Christopher Columbus was a hero? That Abraham Lincoln battled the South in order to free the slaves? Concepts such as these are put in our minds as young children and teach us to have a certain pride in our homeland, but later on we learn, there is more to the reality than what we were being told. Clearly, disturbing similarities can be seen in the actions of our modern day government and the world of 1984. America’s likenesses to the totalitarian regime of 1984 shouldn’t be considered as a new problem by any means.
Such violations of individual liberties have performed a prominent role in America’s past as well as in its present. During the summer of 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by congress brought the United States nearer to a “Big Brother” organization than ever before. The Alien Act “authorized the president to apprehend and deport aliens supposed of ‘treasonable’ leanings” (Davidson 219). With no clear delineation as to what really constitutes a “treasonable leaning,” the president could have compelled somebody out of the United States the instant they participated in an act of anti-American protest. In a farther try to strip away the privileges of its people, the American government established the Sedition Act.
This legislation “established hefty penalties and even imprisonment for writing, talking, or announcing anything of ‘a untrue scandalous, and malicious’ nature against the government or any officer of the government” (Davidson 219). Can you imagine how the citizens of America must have been living in this kind of environment? The grade of paranoia that must have existed amidst normal people was likely equivalent to what Orwell depicted of Winston in 1984. This new risk for talking out against the government wasn’t an inactive one either. “The government utilized the law to convict and imprison several famous Republican editors” (Davidson 219).
These editors, locked away for putting their ideas down on paper, are no different than Winston when he was apprehended for holding his journal. America’s past is apparently tarnished by its 1984-style deprivation of rudimentary human freedoms to its people through the Alien and Sedition Acts.Clearly, George Orwell’s world of 1984 displays a territory that is void of a great number of the freedoms and privileges that modern day citizens hold very dear. However, it is significant to realize that such freedoms can arrive under strike anytime, and have been contravened by the government of the United States on several occasions. While the life in Oceania is controlled by the government to certain extent, it’s not unjust to suppose that Americans could be dwelling in the identical state if the government continues to extend away at rudimentary, everyday freedoms for example being able to wear a t-shirt with a certain political message or being able to talk out against government ideas.
The citizens of America should be vigilant about their freedom’s welfare. The right to privacy and the right to articulate oneself can slip away if not kept protected and stood up for by a unified group of people with a desire to be free.