Uses And Abuses Of Information In Orwell

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Uses And Abuses Of Information In Orwell’s 1984 Essay, Research Paper Introduction In George Orwell s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, we are presented with a dystopian vision of the future. Orwell s book follows the life of Winston Smith, a citizen of Airstrip 1, formerly Britain and part of the nation of Oceania. The country is governed by Ingsoc, the English Socialists, a totalitarian regime led by the iconic leader Big Brother. Oceania is constantly at war with as well as always being in alliance with one of the other two nations of the earth, Euraisia and Eastasia. The population is divided into three social groups, at the top of the power structure is the Inner Party, whose members are the policy makers and number relatively few. Below them are the members of the Outer

Party, who are educated and work in governmental departments. It is this group which Winston Smith belongs to. Underneath them are the proletariat, the uneducated masses that made up 85% of the population. The life of a party member involves being constantly subjected to government propaganda by the medium of the telescreen. This is a device similar to a television placed in the home and workplace of Party members, unlike a television it cannot be turned off and it transmits as well as receives. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, one of four government ministries. The Ministry of Love is concerned with law and order, The Ministry of peace concerns itself with war, The Ministry of Plenty which deals with economic affairs and The Ministry of Truth which is responsible for the

production of news, education, entertainment and fine arts. Orwell is said to have based the infrastructure of Oceania on that of Stalinist Russia of the 1940s. I want to compare and contrast Orwell s vision of the future and control of information to the world of today. I hope to draw parallels in the ideology of Insog, governments of the present day and those of past regimes. The rewriting of history Winston worked in the records department of the Ministry of Truth. His job consisted of the constant updating of news archives. He was responsible for altering or rectifying news reports from back issues of the state newspaper. For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian

front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. (Orwell1949). In another case the Ministry of Plenty promised there would be no cut in the chocolate ration. After a cut in the ration, this speech was rewritten to say that they had predicted a cut some time in the future and eventually that the ration had been increased. Once these articles had been rewritten, the old newspapers were destroyed, new issues printed and used as historical records. All documentation of the

past had been tailored to say exactly what the government wanted it to. No other records of the past existed other than those that had been manipulated and falsified by the ministry of truth. This may seem fantastic and unfeasible in modern western society, but Orwell himself performed a similar role in the BBC during World War II. This gave him a solid taste of bureaucratic hypocrisy and may have provided the inspiration for his invention of “newspeak,” the truth-denying language of Big Brother’s rule in Nineteen Eighty-Four (Johnson 1993). In 1944 Orwell wrote a letter to tribune bringing up the question of how true history actually is. He said that until recently the chances were that major events were recorded with some accuracy. He says that the battle of Hastings