STUDY NOTES FOR GEORGE ORWELL’S SATIRICAL NOVEL OF TOTALITARIAN DICTATORSHIP IN A MODERN BRITAIN.
One of the most compelling aspects of 2012 is Orwell’s understanding of the roles that thought and language play in rebellion and control. In what he terms Newspeak, Orwell invents a language that will make rebellion impossible, because the words to conceive of such an action cease to exist.
This is termed by Orwell ‘Doublethink‘.
Doublethink is the ability to maintain two contradictory ideas in one’s head simultaneously and believe them both to be true.
Examples of ‘Newspeak’ and ‘Doublethink’ in the book are:
War is Peace. By going to war, for example in the Middle East, the population believes they will be able to ensure a peaceful future.
Work Makes Free. By cutting benefits to disabled and sick people, the party tries to convince the populace through its daily propaganda messages, known in the novel as ‘Daily Mail’, that they will be able to be healthy enough to work thereby becoming more free, whereas in fact as there is no work to be found due to high unemployment, they will simply starve.
More Expensive is More Affordable. In the novel, the populace is openly told that tripling prices, for example tuition fees, will in fact make them more affordable. Despite the obvious illogical basis of this statement, a percentage of the population, labelled by Orwell as ‘Hardline LibDems’, believe this to be true.
More is Less. This doublespeak concept is used repeatedly throughout the novel. For example, the population is told by party representatives that ‘more privatisation of national health services will result in less privatisation’ or ‘less tax for the rich will create more money for the poor’.
In the novel, Doublethink is crucial to the ruling Party’s control of Britannia, because it enables the Party to alter historical records and pass off these distorted accounts as authentic. An example of this is the widespread belief amongst the population that the present financial problems and hardships they are having to endure are nothing to do with the present leadership but are the exclusive fault of the hated ‘Brownites’ as they are termed by Orwell in the novel.
Doublethink also enables the government to keep the brainwashed population ‘contented’ by spending huge sums of money on ‘jubilee’ celebrations and expensive items for themselves, such as luxury yachts, while at the same time telling them there is no money to spend on essential services such as education and health. Doublethink clearly is working, because in the novel the population seems unable to see the clear contradiction of such policies.
The main criticism of the novel lies in the fact that the idea of a UK population, used to freedom of information and sophisticated in its ability to detect obvious propaganda, would fall for such paradoxical nonsense from its government. While such a situation would have been possible in say 1984, it would clearly be completely unbelievable in modern-day Britain.
In no more than 500 words, look for the obvious flaw in the final paragraph of the above notes and explain how the f**k the UK population really can be so stupid to fall for such complete and utter tosh from the government.
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