Today we did our first look at the novel, specifically focused on understanding PART 1 of the book. To do this, we did the following…
- A short quiz to check on content and understanding
- A brief discussion about the novel and the function of PART 1 and how it relates to the overall book
We spent discussion time giving clarity to certain ideas/concepts found in the world of 1984.
To help along the discussion, I showed a few videos to help clarity certain concpets.
Doublethink may sound impossible in a way, but it’s very real and has connections our world. It most closely resembles psychological condition know as Cognitive Dissonance.
Here’s a video that explains it better than me:
This is the systematic simplification of the English language. The purpose is to rob people of the words to describe matters nuance and complexity. Simple words lead to simple thoughts and inaction.
George Carlin considered as much when he mused on the evolution of the combat condition shell-shock.
2 MINUTE HATE
This is a daily occurrence in which people gather around Teleescreens to jeer and boo at images of Emmanuel Goldstein (founder of the Brotherhood and enemy of the people) and heap praise upon Big Brother. The book goes to great pains to explain the 2 minute hate, as will we next class when we discuss how propaganda works. The 2 Minute Hate is the purest form of propaganda, a direct appeal to people basest fears and feelings, in which fact is pushed aside for feeling.
These kind of events are nothing new…
THOUGHT CRIME and the JUNIOR SPIES
The very notion of thinking anything contrary to the political philosophy of the ruling party is considered a ‘thought crime’ and is ultimately punishable by death. Winston considers as much even before he writes in his journal, considering that the mere thought of writing his anti-party feelings down is a thought crime. One of the most effective weapons the Party has against thought crime (besides the Thought Police) is to indoctrinate children while they are young and malleable through organization like the Junior Spies.
This is nothing new. Indoctrinating the young to embrace the collective norms of a society is a long standing tradition all around the world for better and for worse.
Behold the Hitler Youth and the Boy-scouts of America
In countries where free speech is valued and protected, the press remains absolutely vital because it holds leaders accountable for their actions. An honest and open press is vital to keeping a democracy alive. However, many counties still have laws in place that translate to modern day thought crime.
NORTH KOREA – All domestic radio, television, and newspapers are controlled by the government. Radio and television receivers are locked to government-specified frequencies. Content is supplied almost entirely by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). It serves up a daily diet of fawning coverage of “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il and his official engagements. The country’s grinding poverty or famines are never mentioned. Only small numbers of foreign journalists are allowed limited access each year, and they must be accompanied by “minders” wherever they go.
BURMA – The junta owns all daily newspapers and radio, along with the country’s three television channels. Media dare not hint at, let alone report on, anti-government sentiments. Burma’s few privately owned publications must submit content to the Press Scrutiny Board for approval before publishing; censorship delays mean that none publishes on a daily basis. In 2005, the junta took control of Bagan Cybertech, Burma’s main Internet service and satellite-feed provider. Citizens have been arrested for listening to the BBC or Radio Free Asia in public. Entry visa requests by foreign journalists are usually turned down except when the government wants to showcase a political event.
TURKMENISTAN – President Niyazov has isolated the country from the rest of the world and created a cult of personality declaring himself “Turkmenbashi,” father of the Turkmen. The state owns all domestic media and Niyazov’s administration controls them by appointing editors and censoring content. Niyazov personally approves the front-page content of the major dailies, which always include a prominent picture of him. In 2005, the state closed all libraries except for one that houses the president’s books, and banned the importation of foreign publications. The state media heap fulsome praise on Niyazov as they ignore important stories on AIDS, prostitution, unemployment, poverty, crime, and drugs. A handful of local and foreign correspondents work for foreign–primarily Russian–news agencies, but their freedom to report is minimal.