“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”
From all the books I’ve read so far, the best and the most complex one is for sure 1984 or Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. So concentrated and yet so complete. 1984 takes the art of writing about dystopian societies to another level. It’s so powerful, that when you read it, you can feel the terror and stress. It’s like Big Brother is watching you also, not only the people in Oceania.
Forget about freedom, forget about love, happiness or any other nice feeling. Here is where the terror, hate and misery fill your life so much, that finish to define it. Imagine living in a world that doesn’t know the definition of peace as war is a constant that defines the way things go. People have no freedom of speech or thinking as the Thinking Police can read their mind, and whoever is against Big Brother and The Party is annihilated. Plus, they prefer to live like this as they can’t really see any other way to live. “Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” Great world, isn’t it? It’s like a combination between Inquisition, Communism and Nazism taken to a whole other level, much worse.
Living under the communist regime for a while and knowing the stories from my parents, some of the passages in the book seem quite familiar. During communists we had portions in food, everything was controlled by them and there was only one Media channel where you could listen to “the progress” in industry and agriculture, though no one knew if that progress was real or just a bunch of lies. It was kind of illegal to go to church and you were constantly followed by the Securists (the internal security force) . The electricity was also cut after 10 or 11 pm and there was no freedom of speech. Funniest thing is that if you ask somebody who spent most of his/her life in this regime they will state that it was better than it is now. Seems like they applied the same techniques as they did in 1984 where everyone seemed to love the Big Brother and if they didn’t they had to hide it pretty well.
And if I just mentioned Big Brother, he is kind of a God, nobody sees him and everyone believes he exists. He is the God of the society as everyone fears him and being punished if they don’t believe in his existence or worse if they don’t love him. The Party controls all the information and everything is erased if the Party wants to. Even people’s existence is erased, like they’ve never existed.
But what happens when you live in this world and discover you are different? When you know nothing they tell you is true and everything is a lie. When you have memories even though you can’t prove you are right. Are you crazy? Or are you the last human soul who knows the difference between good and bad? This is Winston Smith and if you read the book you will discover what happens to him, his beliefs and his life.
Compared with A Brave New World, you can find lots of differences. Yes they are both about dystopian societies, where human spirit doesn’t exist anymore, where everything is controlled and free will is gone. But if anyone could choose I which society to be born, I am sure that 100 per cent would choose Brave New World as it is safer and more bearable. It’s no fun to live under terror and to be prepared for torture every second. Yet so, there is something that attracts you, something that makes you want to know more about this world, about Oceania, her people and English Socialism. If you still wonder why they chose to rule like that, here’s the answer:
“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”