The most prominent message of 1984 is that totalitarianism destroys all that is civil and noble in human beings. In the novel, Orwell writes “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. Once that is granted, all else follows.” The converse of this quote is that by disallowing fundamental freedoms that are inherent to humanity Big Brother and his Party are able to produce a dehumanized, mechanical race of people. In other words, dehumanization is both the cause and effect of a totalitarian political system. This essay will take this as its thesis and flesh out arguments and evidence in support.
There are several methods adopted by the party to dehumanize its population. One such is the rigid scheduling of everyday activities for the people. This is most pronounced for members of the Outer Party and Inner Party and less so for the Proletariat. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the story, is a member of the Outer Party. As a result he is subject to strict daily . . . Read More
Grace Hong’s essay titled ‘The Possessive Individual and Social Death: The Complex Bind of National Subjectivity’ offers numerous insights into historical social constructs. Focusing on the evolution of American history since the time of the Declaration of Independence, the author charts a cogent description of how the socio-polity resisted progressive changes. The book is focused on women of color feminism and the culture of immigrant labor. But prior to arriving at their specific discourse, a broader framework of understanding is laid out. Hereby, two important terms are introduced by the author.
Possessive individual traces its origins to the framing of the constitution, whereby, only the propertied white males of the new country were accorded citizenship. Not only were blacks (who were slaves at the time) were excluded, but so were women and a large section of white male population. The privileged minority of propertied white men enjoyed laws that . . . Read More
Malcolm Gladwell has attempted to create a unique style of scholarship that navigates between science and popular culture. As a result he has earned the wrath from both quarters. For example, scientists accuse him for being simplistic or lacking in rigor. On the other side, commentators from mainstream media accuse him of bringing esoteric scientific concepts to popular discourse. Yet, his book The Tipping Point has sold more than a 3 million copies. His other titles such as Blink (2005), Outliers (2008), David and Goliath (2013), etc, continue to fascinate and provoke in equal measure. Despite the controversies surrounding some of Gladwell’s inferences, his ideas and philosophies have become assimilated into popular discourse. It is an interesting exercise to study how the most important social movement of recent times – Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) – measures up in relation to the author’s theories. This essay endeavors to perform the same.
The Occupy . . . Read More
Freedom of the Press is an essential aspect of functioning democracies. Be it an institution or an individual, the liberty to express openly is the most important of attributes. The press, in particular, being the Fourth Estate of a democratic society, is expected to be bold and articulate. But ground realities differ from ideal conceptions of the function of the press. In the real world, an array of external factors coaxes or coerces the press into acting against democratic principles. These include advertisers, political parties, businesses and even special interest citizen groups. In this backdrop, it is interesting to analyze the state of freedom of press in the world today. It is an interesting exercise to find out which countries are exemplary and which are at a nadir. After all, freedom of press has an immediate bearing on the lives and prospects of citizens. It is not an abstract idea whose relevance is confined merely to the academia.
The Freedom House . . . Read More
The eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s reign, which spanned through the 1980s were known for the social turbulence they caused. The right wing political ideology that has come to be called Thatcherism is deemed reactionary in many ways. To given an example, a pub near the Underground station at Highbury and Islington in north London was forced to paint the following sign blank under Thatcher’s conservatism: An Equal Opportunities Pub Regardless of Race, Creed, Nationality, Disability Or Sexual Orientation. This illustrates the deep impact of Thatcherism in all domains of cultural life. This was a period when “the very existence of society was placed in doubt, when the belief that greed is good was promoted as a moral imperative. It was also the decade when London came to seem like another country.” (Street, 1997, p. 106)
Cinema, being a major cultural product, was especially subject to pressure from the conservatives. Cinema as an industry suffered . . . Read More
The interwar years were some of the most turbulent in the history of Britain. Given the strong trade and diplomatic links between Britain and the rest of Europe and North America, the former’s economic stability depended on several external factors. The Great Depression that struck the United States in 1929 had repercussions across Europe. The mass unemployment witnessed in Britain during this period is not merely a coincidence. On the political front the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany gave rise to distrust and apprehensions of war. In this respect, the social history of interwar Britain is one highly influenced by unravelling economic and geo-political conditions. To go with widespread unemployment there were also conflicts across class lines. The General Strike and the hunger marches that were witnessed during this period were expressions of public frustration. Although the national government was outwardly sympathetic to public angst, and on occasion participated . . . Read More
John O’Neill’s career in service of his country is one spent in frustration and futility. Despite valiant efforts by this sincere and hardworking law enforcement agent, the terror attacks on September 11 2001 could not be prevented. More tragically, John O’Neill himself would perish in the attack as he was then working in the World Trade Centre as a security officer.
John O’Neill has had an impressive career path covering various roles within and without the FBI. Always drawn to the allure of a special agent for the FBI, John’s first job was as a fingerprint clerk and tour guide at FBI Headquarters in Washington. He was barely twenty years old when he started out with FBI in this modest fashion. He climbed up the career ladder steadily thereafter. His appointment as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) in Chicago is a notable milestone. But it is the World Trade Center (WTC) bombing at Oklahoma in 1993 that would prove to be a turning point in his . . . Read More
Abraham Lincoln’s greatness as President lies in his extraordinary ability to take crucial decisions that would prove pivotal to the nation’s history. The Emancipation Proclamation, which essentially promised blacks of their right to equality and liberty, is one of its kind – not just in American history but in political history as a whole. The proclamation and the Gettysburg Address are two exemplary documents whose appeal is intellectual, emotional and moral. This essay will argue that the moral force of the two documents derive from the founding doctrines of the country as well as from scriptures.
The Gettysburg Address was delivered amid very tumultuous events. The Civil War has already brought loss of human lives and material wealth. Even the very conception of the nation is being questioned by the two warring factions. Lincoln was clearly a shaken man due to the tragedy unfolding under his command. Yet he was duty bound to . . . Read More
Brave New World is a profound literary work that encompasses themes of philosophical discourse, projection of societies in the future, the impact of technology on human relations, etc. The major theme in the novel, however, is the link between dystopian societies and an underlying technocratic socio-political order. Huxley uses conflict and control in the realms of politics, human relations, culture and technology to showcase all the malefic aspects of a technocracy. This essay will flesh out this thesis in detail.
One of the constant undercurrents in Brave New World is the dehumanizing effects of technological progress. It would be simplistic and false to blame technology per se for the situation, for there is a political angle to it as well. In other words, if sophisticated technology is wielded by powerful political institutions for vested gains then the results can be disastrous for humanity. Eugenics and scientific planning are two . . . Read More
The three Punic Wars that were waged between Roman and Carthaginian Empires are significant events in ancient geopolitical history. The rise of the Roman Empire coincided with the decline of the Carthaginian Empire because each tried to benefit at the cost of the other. With every outbreak of war between these two great empires, the Roman Empire ended up garnering greater territorial expansion and political influence in the broader Europe. The three wars spanned a period of more than a century, starting from 264 BC and ending in 146 BC. The outcome of the wars established the enduring legacy of the Roman Empire as one of the greatest in the whole of history.
The influence of the Punic Wars on Western Civilization
The Punic Wars were important also for their influence on subsequent diplomatic and military strategies. Many theories pertaining to political and military strategy were conceived and codified during these three wars. These theories . . . Read More