George Orwell opens his book 1984 with presentation of “double-think”. Concept of holding two opposing ideas in ones mind simultaneously. Society that he created for his book is experiencing so much contradictions in their life that they are afraid to think, speak or do anything.
Even the three slogans of ruling party are obvious contradictions:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Main goal of these slogans are to make people question everything around them. It is the life where you can’t believe to your friend, child or even your wife. Simplest mistake in your speaking is understood like a trait to society and will lead you to your death.
Contradictions keep the citizens constantly off balance, so they are never sure of themselves or each other. Even the names of ministries are in contradictions with their true purpose:
- The Ministry of Peace oversees war.
- The Ministry of Love carries out the torture of political prisoners and serve as the police of Oceania.
- The Ministry of Truth is in charge of changing the content in history books and in the news to agree with the Party’s beliefs.
By creating the environment of constant fear the Party got full control over the life of its citizens. Undermining their individuality, independence and autonomy citizens stopped question the world around them.
Meaning of “War is Peace”
Having a shared enemy serves to party like an excuse for a problems that they cannot solve. Sacrificing for greater good of society is uniting people around the country and government while focusing them away from real problems in their own life. Society always feared by possible attack can be easily manipulated and controlled.
Even today it is good technique for manipulating peoples mind. It is not unusual that countries which deal with some inner problem address it to some external force. Just think why such a big number of countries have “natural” enemies but never start a war with them.
It is powerful way of uniting your people around your ideas while making them easier to rule.
Meaning of “Freedom is Slavery”
The second motto of the party is cumulative, if freedom is slavery than slavery is freedom. In this way government messages to people that ones who follow the will of society will be free from despair and will lack nothing, at least nothing that society, or the Party, condones.
In this way the idea of the government surveilling its citizens is presented under the guise of “Big Brother”. Which is than presented like a family member and not like a ruler or a traitor.
In order to survive in this society, the citizens must ignore the clear reality that Big Brother is certainly not a family member showing concern, but is rather the government spying on its citizens in order to control them.
Meaning of “Ignorance is Strength”
In a world where enemy of a state can become a friend in a meter of seconds government needs to make their people more ignorant about changes around them. The main goal is to make citizens not aware of it, so they will not need to ask any question.
By showing that you can swallow falsehoods as truth, you show your commitment and strength. Ignorance is, therefore, strength, as it is the willing ignorance of the people that maintains the coherence of the society.
In today’s world
Living under the flag of democracy and freedom we usually not notice that we are enslaved. Ignoring the fact that we can change our country is the same as deciding that ignorance is strength. By choosing who are our friends or enemies only by our temporary benefits can result us becoming the slaves of our own decisions.
The only way to find the true freedom and happiness is to accept that everyone can be a change and that opinions of people around us doesn’t need to resonate with ours. Understanding why someone have different views is more important than trying to change its beliefs for our benefits. Enjoying in differences is much more satisfying than destroying them.