Big Brother is watching you

Eric Arthur Blair, alias George Orwell, is one of the most representative writers of English tradition. He was a journalist, son of a minor colonial official in India, known for his critical and cosmopolitan character with decisive anti-imperialist positions.During his life, that covers a key part of the 20th century, he couldn't stand the dominance of men over other men. His works are critical, science-fiction, even futuristic, so as to create a personal genre. The real polemic monsters of his literary production are all kinds of totalitarianism, but it would be too simplistic to limit his controversy only to authoritarian regimes: the fears and the omens of Eric Blair are more extensive. A critical reading of "1984", his most famous novel, confirms this thesis. The story tells of an apocalyptic world divided into three macro- regions, Oceania, Eurasia and Estasia, harmed by continuous wars that never end, despite their internal policies were similar. The civilization was based upon the "Socing", the full control of the masses thought by a small number of powerful. In Oceania the heads were those of the Internal Party. The supremacy of the few was based on the total control of the past. The Party employed thousands of men to modify the evidences that testified events already occurred, according to its own interests. But this was not enough; the Party was bringing up citizens to have an ambivalent and changing mind through the "double thought" that snaked among men by making them forget any certainty and requiring them to accept an absolute reality, sometimes absurd, just because it was the result of the consciousness of the Party, like that: 2+2=5. The Party attributed all his great victories, often non-existent, to an impressive and reassuring figure: Big Brother.

All members of the Party had to love this leader, who constantly kept control of the masses through slogans such as: Big Brother is watching you. Each member of the Party was always under the control of the Thought Police who observed every move and every expression of individual citizens. If something didn't go on the face of a given individual, he was arrested, and his existence was erased even in the memory of the other people. The Prolet were the only ones to be free from the control of the Party, they were the poor workers who represented the 85% of the population in Oceania. They didn't need to be controlled, because they didn't take consciousness of the power they held, they always passed from one master to another remaining simple and naive so that the Party treated them like animals. They firmly followed the orders of Big Brother, because he had freed them, through the revolution, by the command of the capitalists and now they were "free"; actually they didn't know freedom, so they couldn't well evaluate. The protagonist, Winston Smith, belongs to the External Party, one of the three social classes in Oceania, his task is to alter the records of the past, but he represents a discordant voice. He remembers all the crimes committed by the Party in the past because in his mind the doublethink didn't work, he feels alienated from the world and the only one to understand the perverse mechanisms of the society, so he decides to counter the Party by writing a secret diary about his memories and his thoughts to leave to posterity. He knows to be in danger or rather to be dead, no one can escape the watchful eye of the Thought Police. During his way full of fears and anxiety, Winston meets Julia, they fall in love each other and have a secret love affair because love is forbidden. Both Winston and Julia are opponents of the system but in different ways: Winston wants to overthrow the Party while Julia does it only for her own sake. Both want to counter the Party but know they will be caught and perhaps killed. The two protagonists decide to rely on O'Brien, an important exponent of the Internal Party, but the latter betrayed them and makes them arrested by the Thought Police. Winston is submitted to every kind of tortures. O'Brien manages to empty completely his memory, considered an illness. The tortures arrive at an exponential level that Winston loses his identity, to the point that he betrays Julia. The protagonist is not killed, but is completely converted to the Party and, with a pure doublethink, he will come to believe that 2+2=5. The story ends with his unconditional love for Big Brother. The plot of 1984 is important to understand Orwell's message. The Prolet can be considered the mass of workers of industrial society, they are in the majority, but they don't have a class consciousness, however, the real secret of their lives lies in the simplicity of their actions. The Prolet don't understand the value of freedom because the past has been modified in the present. Here is clear Orwell's criticism to the media and information in general, the past is fundamental for the present and future actions, if we forget or modify it, we do very serious damage. Orwell controversy presents a huge disdain for those who use simple ignorance of the masses for ulterior motives. Through the slogan "ignorance is strength " recurrent in "1984" Orwell wants us to understand that those who have the power appeal to this principle up to spark off mass follies like Nazism or Communism (URSS). Eric Blair 's vision, in some ways, is fulfilled in our third millennium. The current mass media don't use the TV, but they prefer the Internet, in particular the social network. It is very easy to spread a thought or simply a piece of news. The individual difficulty lies in assessing the veracity of the information, an analysis that passes through logical processes used spontaneously, only by some people, by referring to the sources. For a great part of mass society this mechanism is difficult to implement. This is certainly the reason why the consumption of material goods has grown out of proportion and, as a result of advertising, companies control the market. But this mechanism doesn't take a strong gravity if confined only to the market, the problem is now found in propaganda. The facts are no longer considered, but the emotions; this justifies the attitude of many of today's leaders that get consensus not for what they offer, but how they do it. Orwell had unmasked this process, in fact the Party of 1984 constantly changed the facts, but the mass was only interested in the emotion aroused by the sense of belonging to the system; party members only cared hate and glory, they didn't care if that month they were short of food because the party had made bad decisions. Who rides the wave of social in the world of politics and power knows that he must leverage the sensations of people independently of the actual programs offered.


Alessandro Nocera

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