Final Paper: Comparative Research Paper
Totalitarian structured governments are extreme sources of power, with the ability to dominate the lives of individuals through cultural control and elimination of freedom. Such government regimes exist in both modern day society as well as fictional contexts. Totalitarian governments were molded to strip citizens of their humanity: free thought, work ethic, self-determination. In the novels 1984 and The Hunger Games, government was successful in destroying those human rights of the citizens through hardships and difficulties. Both novels argue that authoritarian structures form a concrete separation between power and poverty. Through the main characters, Winston Smith and Katniss Everdeen, the authors fight to show that even in totalitarian societies, individuals can still reign humane with enough impulse to survive. 1984, by George Orwell and The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins argue that in totalitarian societies, citizens must persevere through government oppression, (including unaccommodating living conditions, lack of supply of food, and no purpose to work hard) in order to retain their humanity.
1984, by George Orwell was written in 1948, following the conclusion of World War II. Orwell’s idea of a totalitarian world came from Soviet Russia, as well as, Nazi Germany. Comparable to both totalitarian leaderships, 1984, was capable of full control over their country and citizens. Siobhan Chapman, a literary critic states, “Because of the nature of its subject matter, and perhaps most strikingly because of Orwell’s choice of an actual date in the then not too distant future as his title, 1984 has attracted attention for its potential “truth” in the sense of correspondence with reality” (Chapman 83). Chapman goes on to explain how the novel was viewed, not as a literary work, but as a work of satire. Regardless, Chapman makes the point that 1984 in modern-day is viewed as non-truth committed approaches versus realistically potential outcomes. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins was written in 2008 and takes place in a future NorthAmerica. Collins’ initiative of a totalitarian government came at the same time as theUnited States hit its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Hunger Games, relates back to the same ideology used by Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Rachel O’Neill, a literary critic states, “Suzanne Collins fuses the decadent and self-absorbed cultures of ancientRome and modern dayAmerica as a warning for society today; any nation that neglects its civil and moral responsibilities in reckless pursuit of pleasure is doomed for destruction” (O’Neill). O’Neill explains this further by mentioning how Collins creates an overly powerful authoritarian power compared to the impoverished majority of citizens. O’Neill expresses concern for societies similar to that of The Hunger Games because they are inevitably set up for future social implosion. Totalitarian structures such as these are bound to eventually fail due to the demanding oppression the governments place on the citizens.
A vital aspect of maintaining a totalitarian government is withholding free thought from citizens. Governments, both historically and in the novels, generated this control by the use of propaganda. Robert Conquest, a historian on Soviet Russia, mentions that the Glavlit, Soviet Russia’s propaganda organization, had the responsibility “[t]o ensure that the correct ideological spin was put on every published item” (Conquest 104). Conquest states that all totalitarian systems run based on deception and oppression. In 1984, the Party was able to utilize propaganda with posters, speeches, meetings, and more. By demonstrating the effectiveness of the Party’s propaganda, Orwell reinforces his point that governmental information is very influential on citizens. Orwell states in the second paragraph of 1984, “[i]t depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features” (Orwell 1). Orwell mentions the stereotypical look of Big Brother early in the novel to form an indirect relationship to his power. By implementing an image of Big Brother so vividly in the beginning of the novel, it creates a sense of importance, just as the poster of Big Brother creates a sense of obedience to the citizens. Orwell does this because he is showing that totalitarian governments do not just sporadically intervene, but rather are watching over their citizens at all times. Orwell illustrates the negative implications of the Party’s propaganda control over citizens through the depiction of Winston’s rebellious personality. Orwell inputs his beliefs into the novel through Winston in order to show his feelings against the oppression ruled government.
In The Hunger Games, the main source of propaganda came from the hunger games themselves. Collins uses Katniss Everdeen to express her ideals against totalitarian propaganda. The Capitol uses the hunger games as a form of seizure on their citizens. No one is free to disregard the games, creating the Capitol’s widespread control (change) on the people. Collins mentions, “[a]ttendance is mandatory unless you are on death’s door” (Collins 16). Collins makes a clear point, that everybody must attend the reaping of the games. This illustrates the Capitol’s true power; if one does not attend then they are imprisoned, but all attendees must watch one of their district member’s potential deaths. The Capitol is able to reveal their power through the customs of the reaping. Through Katniss, Collins is able to make the argument that even in a totalitarian society, where one is impoverished and struggling to survive in everyday life; will power still leads to beneficial outcomes.
Government oppression causes many things to harm citizens. For instance, in 1984, brutal living conditions are a major aspect of the government’s oppression. In 1984, Winston lives in Victory Mansions, a rickety old apartment. His apartment is monitored by telescreens. These telescreens are used by the Thought Police to catch violators of free thought (Orwell 3). Orwell states, “[t]he thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal, but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death” (Orwell 6). By having Winston begin to rebel in his own apartment, Orwell is showing the only unmonitored actions take place within a one-square foot area in the corner of ones’ own apartment. Orwell has Winston disobey the government inside his own apartment to argue that totalitarian governments cannot take away all forms of privacy. The beginning of Winston’s rebellious attitude is a reaction to his hatred towards the overbearing control on his life. Anne Nassauer, a Ph.D candidate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences states, “Situational interaction sequences create emotional dynamics that make collective actors overcome their inhibition threshold and act violently” (Nassauer 1). Nassauer’s research on the relationship of hate to violence is practical in Winston Smith. Winston is appalled by himself for what he has done to revolt against Big Brother, yet at the same time he is proud of himself for his intuition. Nassauer claims that violence is not followed by a single action, but multiple actions that overlap in ones’ brain. By opening and eventually writing in the journal, Winston has committed a violent act, even if not physically violent. In the society of Big Brother, his actions are considered the most violent possible. Winston’s emotions escape him further causing constant panic in his life because he is aware of his prohibited actions. Orwell states, “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, was written all over it…But, he realized, even in his panic he had not wanted to smudge the creamy paper by shutting the book while the ink was wet” (Orwell 20). Orwell argues that Winston’s paranoia, even though extremely high, did not produce enough fear to restrict him from ruining his breakthrough. By giving Winston a breakthrough to find his humanity, Orwell creates the possibility of rebellion from such an insignificant event. In addition, by making the citizens live in unsanitary and broken homes, it keeps them worried about their personal issues rather than the big picture of being oppressed. If society as a whole believes, the government is giving them the best opportunities available then there will be no conflict because the citizens do not have the capable information to believe differently. Orwell argues that if citizens were aware and willing to revolt against the government, even under the difficult conditions, it would be capable as the numbers of the oppressed outweigh the oppressors.
Similar to Orwell’s commentary on living conditions in 1984, Collins illustrates the unsympathetic conditions the government of The Hunger Games puts on District 12. District 12 is one of the poorer districts in Panem, as the main industry is mining. Katniss lives with her mother and sister in a part of District 12, called the Seam. Their house is located at the edge of the Seam, relatively close to the woods, where Katniss hunts in order to provide food for her family. Separating the Seam and the woods is a high chain-linked fence topped with barbed-wire loops, which is supposed to be electrified twenty-four hours a day in order to keep out the wild animals. Nevertheless, the Seam is lucky to get electricity for two to three hours a day (Collins 4). The description Collins gives is similar to the disgusting living environments in 1984. The Capitol gives little attention and aide to District 12, proven by the lack of electricity supplied. By not supplying an efficient amount of electricity, they force the citizens to work and live their lives under strict confinements. Without electricity, it is difficult to perform many daily activities needed for standard living. Collins argues that even under the restrictions that the Capitol puts on housing in District 12, Katniss is still able to provide food for her family through her different skills; Skills that she would not have obtained if it were not for those same limitations by the Capitol. Katniss is able to persevere past the boundaries the Capitol set, both figuratively and literally, to diminish the oppression of living in District 12.
Another way totalitarian governments establish their dominance is by rationing or not providing proficient amounts of food for their citizens. Orwell writes, “Following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grams to twenty” (Orwell 26). Orwell argues that the lack of food in society creates a competition among the citizens. This competition falls into the government’s conception of complete chaos amongst the lower classes. Orwell also argues that by causing the citizens to starve they are more worried about getting enough food than fighting the government for the food they took away. Winston’s perseverance through the inefficient amount of food throughout his life ultimately saved him from starvation.
The Hunger Games, also, uses food as a symbol of control. In the Seam people tend to be very poor and do not have the money to put food on the table. The Capitol allows the citizens of each district to have tesserae, a year’s supply of grain and oil for one person, by opting to add another name in the reaping for the hunger games (Collins 13). The Capitol uses its control of food as an incentive for people to acknowledge the games more. If people acknowledge the games more, they become aware of the Capitol’s undeniable power that it willingly flaunts. Collins argues that by constricting the amount of food available, people take it upon themselves to find new means of surviving, rather than worry about survival than government operations and tactics. For Katniss, hunting becomes her family’s new form of food supply. Collins is able to voice her opinion through Katniss to argue that even when an authority figure creates difficulties, if one is able to think creatively, they will be able to persist with benefits because of those hardships.
Totalitarian societies work in favor of the oppressor because the oppressed are not motivated to work hard. This holds true in 1984, as Winston has no purpose to work hard because his place in the social ladder is stagnant. During a conversation with Syme, a specialist in Newspeak, Winston and he discuss how Big Brother is updating the dictionary in order to prevent the possibility of free thought. Winston then is about to say the proles will still understand the old language, but Syme counters by saying, “[t]he proles are not human beings” (Orwell 52). Orwell’s statement creates a realization in the character of Winston. Orwell argues that if the proles, the lower class of society, are not considered humans by the other members of society, then society cannot move forward. If society is incapable of progressing then there is no reason to work to better oneself. The Party uses that mentality to ensure there is no social movement in society, but a concrete foundations of upper, middle, and lower classes. By withholding will power from the citizens, the Party is able to prevent any individual gain in the social aspect. Tony Montana, a fictional character in the movie Scarface says, “You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power” (Scarface). In modern day society, money is the source to power. Celebrities, athletes, CEO’s are the spotlights of society because of their wealth and admiration from the rest of society. With the Party’s ability to control all commerce and business in society, there is no possible way for citizens to become wealthy. By preventing citizens the opportunity to gain wealth, they are annihilating the opportunity for citizens to become powerful. The Party does not promote social gain, rather rejects any form of it. The Party is capable of oppressing their citizens socially in order to restrict rises in power, but citizens must fight through the social barrier in order to achieve their humanity.
The Capitol, in The Hunger Games, oppresses their citizens similar to that of the Party in 1984. However, instead of influencing their citizens not to work beyond expectations, Panem enforces their citizens to work endlessly just in order to survive. Collins states, “A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another. It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided amongst ourselves” (Collins 14). Collins argues that by creating different social classes within an oppressed society, the citizens will be unable to cooperate with each other because of their social differences. By having, the citizens of the district against each other based on success or wealth, aids the Capitol’s power due to the separation of the potential resistance. The implementation of such ruthless constrictions on the citizens sends the indirect message of who controls all the power. In addition, by causing the citizens to work harder they are erasing any time for freedom of thought because all of their thought goes in to their work. The oppression of the Capitol causes the citizens to work for themselves and for their community, but no matter how hard they work, they will never be able to escape the social issue of classes.
Furthermore, 1984 and The Hunger Games, were written sixty years apart, they both express the same principles of infamous totalitarian societies, theSoviet Unionand Nazi Germany. Even in different eras of world history, both authors felt that totalitarian government is a possibility when society fails to function. When society does in fact fail to function, citizens are incapable of realizing a global issue over self-interest. Suzanne Collins actually incorporates allusions of Big Brother and the Party in The Hunger Games. For instance, the authoritarian party in The Hunger Games is called the Capitol, very similar to the Party. In The Hunger Games if one is caught breaking the laws of the Capitol they become avoxes, disciplined servants in the Capitol city. This is fairly close to the Party’s attempts to fix their citizens through the method of room 101, a room that holds ones’ worst fears. Collins incorporates many ideas from Orwell mainly because the two totalitarian systems operate the same way. Both governments are able to oppress their citizens through different methods, but even over a sixty-year gap, those methods are still identical.
Anthony G Greenwald, a literary critic states, “Orwell implies that the totalitarian state, as a center of cognitive organization, subverts and preempts knowledge organization at the individual-person level” (Greenwald 609). Greenwald explains totalitarian societies, such as Big Brother, are able to work because they are capable of creating ways to overthrow the individual. In context, Big Brother is able to work in because his methods were successful in overcoming the knowledge of an individual and over time a society. The same criticism parallels The Hunger Games. The Capitol was able to gain complete control over Panem by starting with a small group and expanding their methods and beliefs to a greater population. In both contexts, this spread in control was aided by brute force in means of warfare on the citizens. By having the power to cause fear in the eyes of the citizens’ both totalitarian societies were able to achieve absolute tyranny.
In conclusion, totalitarian governments maintain full control over their citizens by making them live their lives in total oppression. By being able to control the lives of their citizens through living conditions, supply of food, and social order they take away any form of individual humanity one has left. Basic humanity consists of self-motivation, work ethic, and being able to think for oneself, all which are stripped in a totalitarian society. In 1984, by George Orwell and The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, humanity is revoked from the citizens by their governments. However, through the characters Winston Smith and Katniss Everdeen, humanity is a goal blocked by oppression. In both cases, perseverance through oppression causes catastrophic tribulations in the eyes of the oppressor and shows the light that individuals can still attain in a totalitarian order.
Stage Two: Integration Paper
A single authority of power controls dystopian societies. Throughout the Twentieth century, many countries, including theSoviet Union, began to shift their methods of power towards totalitarian rule. The completely restructured forms of government were an attempt to restrict their citizens’ rights. Totalitarianism is a tyrannical government with the power to dominate lives of individuals through cultural control, especially the use of propaganda.
In the Soviet Union, following World War II communism was the governmental rule in place. Led by Joseph Stalin, the country had total power over its citizens lives because of the way the government was organized. The use of propaganda was a large [O1] enforcement throughout theSoviet Union in order to influence the citizens. The government used propaganda to direct their citizens because it was an efficient way of controlling the masses. Robert Conquest, a historian states that the use of propaganda in Soviet Russia was “[t]o ensure that the correct ideological spin was put on every published item” (Conquest 102). Totalitarian authority is considered to be correct in all matters. Even if propaganda is falsified information, the government may state it as factual. TheSoviet Union wanted to control their citizens in every aspect, for the reason that in a socialist state all peoples are considered equal. By censoring all information, the government was capable of monitoring citizen knowledge and curiosity. The concept of communism is that society owns all versus capitalism where there are private owners. Communism isstructured around the idea that all profits are shared equally, society controls production, society is above any individual person, and wants no sort of private property. Communism’s main rival in terms of government style is capitalism, which promotes private property and the individual success over society. SovietRussia’s strong belief in communism was the main reason behind the strictness placed over the citizens.
Communism is defined as a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production (Merriam-Webster). It is also known as a revolutionary stage of Marxism-Leninism ideology. Robert Pons, author of A Dictionary of 20th Century Communism states “[m]arxism–Leninism was the dominant ideology of the international Communist movement following the ascension of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, and as such, it is the political ideology and movement most often associated with the word Communism” (Pons 526). Communism’s creation came through the principles of class conflict, egalitarianism, and social progress. Marx and Lenin wanted such an ideology to exist in order to rid of any capitalist ideals. Due to the implementation of Marxism-Leninism principles, the single-party state was able to gain complete control of the country because there was no opposing political group. The government’s total control was very effective in terms of propaganda. TheSoviet Union’s main censorship body, Glavlit, had 70,000 workers to eliminate any unwanted printed materials. Conquest mentions that the Glavlit’s other responsibility was “[t]o ensure that the correct ideological spin was put on every published item” (Conquest 104). With the use of the Glavlit, the government was very efficient in achieving their goals of social control by controlling the everyday activities of its citizens.
TheSoviet Unionofficially came into the world in 1922 after the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government of the former Russian Empire. The leader of the Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin, one of the fathers of the Marxism-Leninism ideology, implemented the communist rule. Following his death, the next leader of theSoviet Union, Joseph Stalin, stuck with the Marxism-Leninism views. Stalin’s authority over the country and passion for power created the powerful propaganda. The use of propaganda was to keep citizens in check; Stalin used it to maintain his overall power. The Glavlit used schools, radios, posters, meetings, art, newspapers, books, and entertainment as methods of propaganda. Schools and youth organizations were major influences on how children grew up. The idea that parents were supposed to be in charge of raising their children were extremely limited (Pipes 315). According to Orlando Figes, a historian onRussia, schools also constructed “Lenin’s corner” which were “[p]olitical shrines for the display of propaganda about the god-like founder of the Soviet state” (Figes 21). TheSoviet Unionused childhood establishments to teach children the Soviet way of life and convince them any other values were immoral. Radio and poster propaganda aimed at the illiterate, since many citizens lacked the ability to read. Radios were placed in general locations where masses of people could listen simultaneously and posters often had large, bold pictures presenting the Red Army’s triumphs (Rhodes212). Robert Service, a Russian history professor at theUniversityofOxfordclaims, “[m]eetings and lectures were used to instruct in the proper way of every corner of life” (Service 358).
Another form of mass use propaganda used by the Soviet’s was art. Lewis Siegelbaum, author of Stalinism as a Way of Life explains, “[a]rt was filled with health and happiness; paintings teemed with busy industrial and agricultural scenes, and sculptures depicted workers, sentries, and schoolchildren” (Siegelbaum 1). However, this represented the fake image of society rather than the practical. Newspapers were a large form of propaganda as well; after removing the opposing newspapers, the propaganda journal, USSR in Construction was released. Catherine Nygren, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan states that in USSR in Construction, “[t]he issues were aimed primarily at an international audience, especially western left wing intellectuals and businessmen. To satisfy the global desire for the journal, it was published in Russian, French, English, German, and, from 1938, Spanish, and its self-proclaimed purpose was to ‘reflect in photography the whole scope and variety of the construction work now going on the USSR’[O2] ” (Nygren 1). Books did not get as much attention as newspapers did; however, the government seized anything non-communist from libraries, including some of Lenin’s work (Siegelbaum 84). Entertainment propaganda including cinema and theater had common themes of support for the regime and hatred for the enemy (Pipes 303).
The main goal for the government through propaganda was to create the New Man.[O3] “[t]he selfless new man was willing to sacrifice not only his life but his self-respect and his sensitivity” (Overy 301). By convincing citizens on the way they must live their lives the government captured full control of their mind. “[m]any Soviet works depicted the development of a ‘positive hero’ as requiring intellectualism and hard discipline” (Myers 81). However, since the government was in total power over a person’s actions and viewpoint, no one person can attain the intellectualism that created this “positive hero.” Along with trying to create the New Man, the government also aimed at creating a New Society, one in which there are no social classes and all possessed the true meaning of social equality. This goal of a new utopian society inspired many people, due to the great dedication of propaganda (Overy 262). Soviet propaganda did not just take place on Russian soil; in fact,USSR propaganda spread over to theUnited States. Some uses of propaganda against theUnited States includes the promotion of John F. Kennedy assassination theories, attempts to discredit Martin Luther King Jr., fabrication of the story that the AIDS virus was created by United States scientists, as well as others (Mitrokhin). The use of propaganda to control and dictate society worked for theSoviet Union; however, due to the harsh demands of the society, the goals that they had created to reach were inevitably unattainable.
Socialism creates an equal society for the people. On the other hand, it takes away from the qualities of being human. Unlike socialism, capitalism acknowledges the individual and the choices the individual feels fit. Capitalism is the pristine government type for the reason being, people are permitted to live their lives with civil rights and still be able to make the choices affecting themselves. In a socialist society, the people have no civil rights and must obey the word of the government. Professional blogger, John Hawkins, of Right Wing News gives several reasons why capitalism triumphs over socialism. First, capitalism produces faster than socialism, thereby generating a sustainable economy. Second, capitalism works with human nature while socialism is against human nature, the case being, people are willing to work hard for themselves over working hard to serve others. Third, capitalism rewards those that excel, opposed to socialism rewarding people for being average (Hawkins). In a capitalist society, those that work hard reap the benefits of their success; in a socialist society an employee with a standard job and the boss of that employee receive the same benefits, even though the boss retains the higher position. Lastly, capitalism is capable of allocating resources to those that will be efficient in finishing the product contrasting the socialist system of central planning where bureaucrats make decisions on all products, even without any knowledge of that product (Hawkins). The focal difference between capitalism and socialism are the basic civil rights: freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly. In a society without these rights, a person is constrained to outside information rather than individual reflection. Socialist society hinders[O4] at ones’ successfulness in the world.
The novel, 1984, mirrors the Soviet propaganda machine in many ways including the uses, techniques, and power of propaganda in a totalitarian society. 1984, by George Orwell, is about a totalitarian society with the dominating power to control the country through propaganda and cultural power. The main character of the novel, Winston Smith, is an average government worker in the Ministry of Truth. Smith loathes the state of the society and cannot stand the authority of Big Brother, the leading figure of the government. Throughout the novel, Smith’s hatred of the government and Big Brother escalate, resulting in him ending up in prison, following an attempt to join the rebellion. George Orwell’s emotions of a totalitarian society are transmitted through Smith’s thoughts and actions. Based on Smith’s experiences during the novel, Orwell has raw feelings towards totalitarian rule. Orwell deliberately creates the character of Winston Smith to replicate a stereotypical person in a realistic totalitarian society to prove the difficulties and hardships citizens must persevere through, the unaccommodating living conditions, minimal supply of food, and lack of a purpose to work hard. Orwell confirms his strong abhor found in totalitarian control all through 1984.
Orwell incorporates propaganda in 1984 through the Ministry of Truth, Smith’s occupation. The purpose of the Ministry of Truth and Smith’s job is identical to the Soviet Union’s Glavlit. Both parties are responsible for the destruction of documents that the government finds false or irrelevant to their control, as well as, the recreation of historical events. For example, in 1984 posters are used to cumulate support and create a feeling of safety around Big Brother, similar to the posters of the Soviet Union’s that gained support for the Red Army. Orwell writes, “[t]here seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black-mustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding corner” (Orwell 2). Orwell gives the tone that in a totalitarian society there is no happiness, yet everything is dark and gloomy. The picture of Big Brother creates what the government idolizes as the new man.
Another form of propaganda the Ministry of Truth utilizes similar to the Glavlit is the telescreen, a two-way television in which the Thought Police are able to witness any events viewable. The use of the telescreen was to brainwash the citizens and block out any opportunity to think freely. They did this by blasting music and playing television shows that supported the rise of Big Brother. This is comparable to the Glavlit’s use of radio and entertainment; all forms of entertainment went through the government to make sure that their citizens were incapable of using their own intelligence. The use of schools and youth organizations in both societies intended to teach children at a young age how to be good citizens. “[o]rganizations as the Spies were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it” (Orwell 24). Orwell explains how the children of 1984 society are controlled more so by the government than their own parents. This falls true in real world society as well; schools were infiltrated with propaganda to teach the students about the aim for the new society, which was only accessible if all of society obeyed the government. The Party creates a class enemy through the character of Emmanuel Goldstein, “[a] lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard- a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable… he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of thought” (Orwell 12). Orwell creates Goldstein to play the class enemy to Big Brother in order to round up support for Big Brother. The Ministry of Truth’s representation of Goldstein is anti-Semitic. This is alike the Soviet Union’s attempt to erase religion from its culture and form an atheist state. Alternatively, the class enemy was used in Soviet Russia also to gain the peoples’ reinforcement. The link between the Soviet Union and 1984 propaganda fall exceptionally close to each other. Totalitarian societies possess the power over the people and the only way to complete that is by feeding them information the government feels necessary.
George Orwell’s feelings on government rule came out of his experiences like many authors. The Spanish Civil War played a very important part in defining Orwell’s socialist views (Connoly). Following the war, Orwell returned a harsh anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labor Party (Crick). Orwell’s experience of the Spanish Civil War gave him his own perspective on how society should run. Orwell once stated, “[e]very line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it” (“Why I Write” 23). Orwell’s beliefs are easily portrayed in 1984 as he shows why one would not want to live in a totalitarian society. Orwell felt that tyrannical rule should not exist in a modern day world.[O5]
The intention of certain propaganda was to abolish the reading of 1984, but the novel itself is a method of propaganda. Orwell’s intention behind 1984 is to inform the world of the appalling characteristics of totalitarian government. When asked about if he saw his fictional society becoming a reality, Orwell said, “[I] do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive but I believe something resembling it could arrive” (Life/NY Times). Orwell’s purpose to express his point to the world makes a strong case for capitalism. Since Orwell was not restricted in a socialist culture, he was able to speak his mind freely. By doing so, Orwell exemplifies the main point of why capitalism triumphs over socialism, the freedom to think carries more power than a government can withstand.
Using propaganda, totalitarian governments were able to dictate their citizens. Nevertheless, over the course of history capitalism has proven to be more effective in terms of letting individuals live freely. By not constraining individuals, many breakthroughs have occurred in numerous fields of studies. In totalitarian societies, such breakthroughs do not exist because the bind on the citizens’ rights is too strict. George Orwell, mentioned in 1984 that even in a totalitarian society, citizens are still capable of breaking free from the ruthless injustice. When society gives individuals, the human rights deserved, society can flourish; otherwise society is stuck in a never-ending loop of mediocrity.
The phrase “Cold War” creates an image inside one’s mind of a time with great hostility, hatred, and fright. The Cold War began in 1947 and lasted until 1991. Over the span of forty-four years: threats were given, media grew rapidly, and global culture changed significantly. In an era of such unrest, it is truly remarkable how any productiveness was gained. One can not pass by the fact that the Cold War was also a technological advancement battle between the world. This over extended battle of thoughts and words caused a great problem with the cultures of the countries in this fight. People were growing weary of their governments true “necessities” and started to question its standing. The great shift in American culture occurred throughout the mid-twentieth century with the change in popular music, increase of drug usage, civil rights for both women and African Americans, views on the Vietnam War, as well as political instability. On the contrary, the Soviet culture was held at a stand still, until the outbreak of technology and media which propelled the break through over the decades. The differences between theUnited Statesdemocratic culture and Soviet Russia’s communist culture, was a large impact in the way the two opposing countries fought the war.
The Cold War atmosphere created a greater problem than a verbal fight between theUnited StatesandUSSR. It started a dystopia for many citizens in theUnited States. First amendment rights were basically thrown away in order for the government to gain control over its people. Yet, theUnited Statestried to maintain the reputation of being completely democratic: the people’s government; The same government that says “all men are created equal.” The main issue at hand was that the American government could not control its citizens, who were using their basic rights in very powerful ways, ways that the government did not approve of in a time of global panic.
The factors that influenced the vast American culture shift were not individually effective, but more so collaboratively effective, due to the effects one had on another. To begin, the Second Red Scare, the political horror that was shaping our country in a very outlandish anti-communist way drew the course of political intervention into society during the fifties. After the Russian spies were found living in everyday American society, the government went into an all out panic. This panic then caused the creation of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist plan, McCarthyism. McCarthyism, under the FBI’s control was the main source of stopping any communistic thoughts from influencing American citizens or culture. In a very similar way, McCarthyism is almost a parallel of the KGB,Russia’s special forces group; the government is able to dictate peoples’ thoughts and if they deem you a traitor, your life is ruined.
On a separate note, the change in music and drug usage played a great part in shaping the mindset of the new young adults of the time. Hippies were beginning to take control ofUnited Statesculture. However, they did not just come out of the corn fields one night and completely change the way a country saw the world. Over the course of the fifties and sixties the civil rights movements for African Americans were making a major break through in American society. Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were becoming common names in society and influential figures towards those against the oppression of the government. In the words of professor and author of communal and utopian studies articles, Timothy Miller, “[t]his change in racial climate, brought to the fore a new politics of moral passion and a new appreciation for blackness. Black radicals would soon emerge as cultural heroes among alienated white youth. Marijuana, a major component of the 1960′s cultural upheaval, would pass from black musicians into the countercultural milieu” (Miller 6). As the Cold War progressed into the early 1970′s more and more citizens began to question the government’s motives; this time with theVietnamWar. Many citizens did not understand and thus did not appreciate the fact that the government was sending young adults to fight a war they should not be fighting. This added greater hostility towards the governments beliefs and also raised the power of society’s goal of a more peaceful world. The landmark events of the mid-twentieth century all link together in the formation of how the culture was formed and progressed. Even though the government tried to control the society, over time it was proven that theUnited Stateswas truly run by the people. Due to the opposition ofU.S.citizens the government did not take affirmative action in attacking theUSSRbecause it did not have the support of its citizens The Cold War era in theUnited Stateshad a huge impact in terms of showing how government control and an ever-changing culture meshed together.
At the other end of the war of words was the formerly known Soviet Union. The Soviet Unionfollowing the conclusion of World War II remained power hungry, mainly due to their leader, Joseph Stalin. Stalin, a firm believer in communism was dedicated towards making the USSRthe most dominant country in the world, nevertheless, his ally in World War II, the United Statesstill remained the top contender. Over the Cold War era, the USSRstarted relations with Cubaand the Middle Eastand started the creation of major hostility in those parts of the world with their supplements of armaments. Even though the USSRwas dealing as a major world player in terms of trade and war, “[s]oviet ignorance about the rest of the world persisted through the Stalin years” (Richmond81). The citizens of USSRhad to remain under the reign of a communistic rule until 1991 when, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet President of the time introduced perestroika (“reconstruction”) and glasnost (“openness”) which resulted in the collapse of the communistic state of theSoviet Union. As theUSSR started to deteriorate from the inside it was obvious how the culture of the country effected the government. When the war started there was little output from the citizens due to the strict communistic behaviors. However, as the years went on and theU.S. progressed at a rapid pace, theUSSR culture began to modernize with the influence of technology and because of that the power of communism began to diminish. Before the Soviet culture fell apart they did manage to make many advances in order to compete with theUnited States in the race for world dominance. My point here should interest those who understand the Cold War from the European front instead of theUnited States. Beyond this limited audience, however, my point should speak to anyone who cares about the larger issue of the global view of the Cold War. That view being similar to a bird’s-eye view: not having a specific bias or showing favoritism towards one side, rather having a total sense of knowledge about the war from both sides.
“With the rise of media studies, the Cold War has also been scrutinized from various perspectives as a phenomenon of U.S.media” (Vowinckel 4). Vowinckel explains how the effect of media played a large factor in influencing the perspectives of citizens during the era. As the years passed the availability of technological advancements increased: radios were being replaced by televisions, telephones, cameras, cars became everyday necessities, and weapons technology was growing at an exponential rate. The rise in technology and media influenced the culture change of both the United Statesand USSR. The public was now able to know the basic knowledge the news was limiting them to. A major technological battle between the U.S.and USSRwas the space race. With the capabilities of nuclear warfare from both sides of the world, the thought of being able to fly a rocket or probe into space and dropping a bomb seemed inevitable. Thankfully, the nuclear warfare never happened, but the space race to the moon did have meaning during the Cold War. In a recent article written following Neil Armstrong’s death the author explains how “[i]n many ways, the entire mythology of the moon landing perpetuated the utopian ideal, but with a verisimilitude that has rarely before adorned this ancient fantasy. When Armstrong bounded onto the lunar surface in 1969, an estimated one-fifth of the earth’s population watched or listened to him do it. This “giant leap for mankind” entranced over 600 million people, who experienced that event together” (Philisophirish). However, in my perspective it created a dystopian issue, for the reason that there was such major competition with theUSSR at the time. Since theUSSR started their space program before theU.S., it seemed certain that theUSSR would put a man on the moon first. However, when Armstrong took “that giant leap for mankind,” he created an even worse blood between the two countries; not in terms of bloodshed, but in jealousy. As the Cold War started to cool down in terms of violence and threats, the rivalry was very much alive in both country’s citizens. A prime example of this is the 1980 Winter Olympics. TheUSSR men’s hockey team was known for being the undisputed number one team in the world, compared to theU.S. team that consisted of a bunch of college hockey players. Both countries reached the gold medal game, but this game was more than an Olympic hockey game, it was a game symbolic of who had the toughness and determination to win the Cold War. In the end theU.S. team defeated theUSSR in an outstanding performance that no one saw coming.
The Cold War era created a great deal of emotion and pride for one’s country. Between hatred and love, both cultures transformed because of their respective governmental rule. The Cold War may have been a bloodless war, but the cultural shake-up impacted the events of the war. The advancements in technology, media, civil rights, and civil responsibilities changed each country in different ways. The shifting cultures of each respective country influenced their governments on how they took action over the four decades, even though overpowering, they took the opinions of their citizens into consideration. In conclusion, American and Soviet cultures altered drastically over the years, drastically enough to effect an entire world’s actions for forty-four years.