The dehumanizing effects of totalitarianism in 1984 by George Orwell:

In the case of Winston Smith, being a man of above average intelligence and perceptiveness, his mind revolts against accepting party propaganda that stands in contradiction to his personal knowledge. It is in recognition of this natural tendency to rebel that the word ‘doublethink’ is introduced in Newspeak. Even Winston’s everyday job is one of purging, correcting or fabricating old records of The Times to suit current political expediencies. In this way, Winston’s job is about eliminating the merit or necessity of individual memory. The freedom to possess personal knowledge or memory is made redundant with the constant reinvention of history. Thus if Winston produces an article to the effect of saying two plus two equals five, such will become the undisputed fact. By taking away from people the fundamental right to independent thought, sound logic and personal memory, the Party turns them into mere puppets. They are by the same token deeply dehumanized.

The totalitarian control over personal memory is one symptom of a broader systemic condition in Oceania, namely, the total lack of freedom of press. This has several implications. For example, beyond the fact of freedom of speech and expression, as well as the claim to a fundamental human right, it affects other domains of life. The quality and content of art and literature depends on it. Likewise, the shape of intellectual life and public discourse is borne by freedom of press. Even the seemingly abstract and removed world of scientific inquiry cannot flourish under harsh censorship. And most importantly, freedom of press is often linked to freedom in education. When the education system and the disseminated content are controlled by the state, there are serious repercussions. The young impressionable minds of children are most vulnerable to systematic indoctrination. By careful choice and structuring of syllabi at various levels, Big Brother and his Party have supreme power to produce young adults who would toe the party line. This is equivalent to subjecting children to an assembly line of production. Such a scenario is not only profoundly harmful and dehumanizing for the children of Oceania.

In conclusion, the fundamental freedom to thought, action and seeking truth is abolished in the dystopia of Oceania. Thereby, its wretched citizens of all categorizations do not have the power to say ‘two plus two equals four’. The deprivation of such a basic freedom has profound implications in all realms of life. What this nightmarish system produces ultimately are hordes of mindless and subservient masses of people who are not human in the sense we know it. They are decidedly less than human and more akin to captive animals.

Reference:

Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. A novel. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co.

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