Anyone read 1984?

What do you think of Orwell’s vision of a disordered 1984 utopia? Do you see any of these extreme ideas in our society. I am particularly interested in “The Party’s” use of “Newspeak” and it’s similarities with Politically Correct speak in our time.

What do you think?

Yes, I think it’s very relevant to today’s political climate. Disturbingly so. Orwell’s world where the government spews propaganda and spies on its own people is disturbingly familiar.

From my understanding of Orwell he did believe in Socialism, but in his book he was examining socialism gone bad. The “middle” group rose up against the capitalist “high” group and then eventually killed off the original idealists until the “middle” became the “high” and hence, the one’s in power. However, unlike other forms of socialist experiments that revolutionaries throughout history have fought for, 1984’s “Revolution” was designed consciously for power grap, rather then the idealist dream of equality that was the supposed motivation of other revolutionaries.

I think “Newspeak” is found on both the “right” and the “left.”

You might be interested in Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” if you haven’t read it already. It lays out a lot of the ideas behind “Newspeak.” I particularly love his translation of Ecclesiastes 9:11:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English: Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

By and large I agree with C. S. Lewis that Animal Farm is much better than 1984.

Edwin

i thought the totalitarian society portrayed (by the way, its a dystopia, not a utopia if it’s a negative vision) was based on stalin’s russia.

i tried reading it recently but found it too grim and stopped. i had no such problems with animal farm though.

This is very interesting from a social perspective. The iron law of oligarchy states that what you describe here, is unavoidable.

The Russian Revolution is a good case in point. People united to overthrow the ruling class, only to entrench themselves as the new elite.

i tried reading it recently but found it too grim and stopped. i had no such problems with animal farm though.

Animal Farm is next on my reading list.

I had no idea that C.S. Lewis was of that opinion, but I’d certainly have to agree.

“Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree I see you, You see me.” :slight_smile:

Frankly, I see “newspeak” to have more in common with the Thirteenth Rule of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits than with today’s political correctness nonsense…

Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

fordham.edu/halsall/source/loyola-spirex.html

In 1984, if the State decreed that “white” was “black” or that “black” was “white” the people were mandated to use Newspeak to modify their thinking so as to come into line with the new party line. The similarities to Loyola’s Thirteenth Rule are striking in my opinion.

Since this was written in 1948 I suspect the issues addressed in this book existed before George Bush’s Presidency.

The idea of “newspeak” and the threat of totalitarianism have existed for as long as people have been organizing into governing bodies.

The scary thing about these themes is that that are universal. You can look at any authority and see these elements.

Trying to pin it in a special way on the Bush Presidency exposes either your bias or lack of historical perspective.

Without a doubt! I think of 1984 often when I listen to politicians (on both sides) and their die-hard followers (some found on this board) speak.

It seems to be especially evident in our legality of killing a pre-born baby.

This guy, along with Kurt Vonnegut, are just way overated.

This author was a staunch leftist, who fought with the Communists in Spain who killed nuns and priests, and believed in some idiosyncratic form of socialism which he never explained (he never defined what his ideal society would look like).

He lived at the beginnings of the British Welfare State, under Clement Atlee, and I don’t know if those socialist reforms even satisfied him. The lasted until Margaret Thatcher.

His books Animal Farm and 1984, are interesting, but he acerbicly satirized the Church of England in a Clergyman’s Daughter novel and really showed a contempt for Christianity in that novel; he once said in an essay that he sympathized most with the character of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost which he had to read in school.

It sounded like his ideal society was Communist Republican Spain, minus the Soviet agents and troops who were sent to
support the democratically elected communist government in the 1930’s, which he went to fight and die for as a volunteer Spanish Communist soldier. He described it in his memoir a Homage to Catalonia.

I think you can argue both ways persuasively whether he liked Communism or hated Communism. From what I read, he hated Stalinist communism, but wanted a British socialist state. So, he was sort of like George Bernard Shaw in that regard.

Don’t ask me why I read so much of this crank’s writings; I guess it was because some people are under the delusion that he is a great writer and told me to read his writings. I didn’t know there are better books out there to read.

He is an interesting as political writer his writing style is entertaining, but I don’t think he’s a Great Writer; as a Catholic, I would say his writings are dark and cynical; not good for the soul.

I suggest reading “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin…it was written in the 20s, I believe in Russia, banned there and then first printed in English…interesting history. Anyway, of the dystopian society studies, this is one of the winners, IMO

Read that also - great read!

I think what you are refering to here is more “doublethink” than “newspeak”. The 2 + 2 = 5 problem for Smith is solved through “doublethink”

“newspeak” is more about removing offending words which could be used against The party, or altering words. The reduction in vocabulary doesn’t serve so much to save time as to reduce the possiblility of “crimethink” and eventually to elliminate it alltogether. If you don’t have the vocabulary to describle intellectual freedom, for example, you can’t think it, and therefore can’t commit a thought crime.

In my opinion the similarity with modern politically correct speach is the fact that it’s not so much about politeness or manners or sensitivity as it is to change our way of thinking about things. For example abortion becomes reproductive freedom. Words envoke emotion, change the words and for most people you change the emotion.

Eventually in the novel all of this leads to “doublethink”. In my opinion, many things in our modern society require a form of doublethink to accept. We must tell ourselves that black is white, that night is day in order to remain sane. We must tell ourselves that abortion is not murder it is freedom (to use a previous example)

Could be. It’s been a while (probably 30 years or more) since I’ve read the book. Both concepts are certainly kin though.

None of the comments that follow support this claim, because none of them pertain to literary merit, except perhaps the claim that he’s dark and cynical. I would agree that Orwell is not on the level of someone like Dante or Dostoyevsky, or maybe even Dickens, and that his lack of hope and the transcendent has a lot to do with that. But he’s still a darn good writer and there’s a lot to learn from him.

Edwin

Originally Posted by rr1213
Frankly, I see “newspeak” to have more in common with the Thirteenth Rule of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits than with today’s political correctness nonsense…

Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because

fordham.edu/halsall/sourc…la-spirex.html

In 1984, if the State decreed that “white” was “black” or that “black” was “white” the people were mandated to use Newspeak to modify their thinking so as to come into line with the new party line. The similarities to Loyola’s Thirteenth Rule are striking in my opinion.

I think this passage is trying to express the absolute loyalty that the Jesuits have to the Catholic Church’s Magisterium, its Teaching Authority. I don’t think it is similar to trying to deliberately erase the annals of history or manipulate information and facts, as the fictional government portrayed in 1984 was doing, if that is what you’re trying to allude to.

I think what Ignatius is trying to express with the white /black analogy is that a Jesuit’s loyalty to the Catholic Church should be so absolute that if a Jesuit has an opinion about something, and the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ holds an opinion different from the Jesuit’s opinion, a Jesuit should follow the Churches teaching, because “by the same Spirit (Holy Spirit) and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.”

For example, “Liberation Theology.” The hierarchy of the Catholic Church including Pope John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ on earth, told some of these Jesuit theologians to tone it down.

That quote does not mean if the Pope said the moon was made of green cheese, but I know its rock, I now have to see green cheese on the moon.

Don’t forget, Jesuits take a vow before God of Obediance for their order. Obediance is extremely important in religious life; Ignatius is talking about matters of faith and morals.

The Catholic Church is part of the Kingdom of God; it is not a modern secular relativist atheistic university where God plays no role in human thought except maybe off-campus.

There are all sorts of strange and sinister theories about the Jesuits out there on the net. Some website I once came across while doing some research on Freemasonry said the current superior of the order rules the world and other nonsense like that.

Catholicism is not based on faith alone, or reason alone, but a blend of both** Faith and Reason**.

Also Contarini, when I say George Orwell is overrated, I’m referring to the ideas expressed in his writings and his status as a thinker. Sorry, I don’t have time to write a 60 page paper, doing in depth literary analysis with hairsplitting analysis…

I’m just trying to say, just because this man was a novelist and essayist, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything he wrote just because it was published by Harcourt Brace and Company.

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