George Orwell had lost the power to believe. Who could blame him? The original reviews of George Orwell’s 1984 seemed to justify the complaints of Trotskyites such as Isaac Deutscher, who saw the American press run with the common gambit that Orwell was a prophet warning of the coming menace of creeping socialism and high taxes. Even liberal urban scribblers were reluctant to admit that tyrannies other than left-wing ones might be involved…
For many years Nineteen Eighty-Four ‘served as a sort of an ideological super-weapon in the Cold War’, was used along with Animal Farm as propaganda in the Western occupied zones of Germany, which it was ‘feared … might be invaded by Soviet troops’, and was later also made use of by West Germany as ‘warning . . . about what a future under Stalin might be like’. There is much in the novel, of course, which allowed it to be interpreted as an attack on Soviet Communism and its allegedly aggressive intentions. Nonetheless, such an interpretation does not quite fit: Ingsoc has been established in Oceania by internal revolution and not by military invasion or external pressure. The model is Trotsky rather than Stalin.
The right wing press, by and large, simply refused to believe. This, in the same decade as Hitler’s final solution and Auschwitz; it was unfathomable to think that men could sink to such depths as to be unable to solve their problems by reason:
Robert Hatch’s review of the novel in New Republic, however, declares it “entertaining a repulsive way”, and that the only thing to guard against is taking it too seriously”, as it is not an accurate predictor of the future. Hatch remarks that the reason the books may be so effective is because it doesn’t refer to an indistinct time in the distant future – Orwell has “put a date to it” – 1984. Hatch does appear, however, very critical of Orwell’s book. He concludes his review with the statement that “no problem has ever yet been solved by crying ‘We are undone’”, showing that he believes Orwell’s novel to be, in essence, a capitulation to the reality of the way the world is changing, and while he doesn’t think that Orwell likes it, he does not believe that he will try to change the prediction in his novel, either. Hatch does, however concede that Orwell’s observation of the workings of a totalitarian government have some merit – that they show “a cavalier attitude toward verifiable reality”. Read More: http://www.fictionpress.com/s/2678532/1/Absolute_Power_Corrupts_Absolutely
aOrwell was not surprised by such massive misunderstandings. He meant the book to go into the political arena like all his works and for it to take its lumps there. Orwell did not believe that the book’s details would come true in the Western world, but “something like 1984 could happen.” The subtext, and the underpinning of Orwell’s theory was in the inevitable confrontation of the superstates in opposition to each other would be political theatre of the pretend variety. The cold war being a sham and a pretext to terrorize their respective populations and exert control, reinforce militarism, racism and consumerism and feed the head through almost unlimited propaganda through the cultural industries:
…This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation. “Specifically, the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities, by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which – of course – the atom bomb is the most powerful, and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook, by intellectuals of all colours. The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one : Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.” Read More:http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071204032254AAww0Ce
Beside these divergent political interpretations, there were others which sought to interpret Nineteen Eighty-Four non-politically as either a study of the mental illness of the protagonist or a psychological document revealing the obsessions of the author. The mental illness reading logically involves the reinterpretation of what seem to be objective characteristics of a totalitarian society as items in a subjective phantasmagoria. Nobody takes this the whole way, but in arguing in these pages that Winston is ‘a text-book schizophrenic’, Robert Currie has shown the extreme lengths to which critics of this persuasion are prepared to go….
…Those who interpret Nineteen Eighty-Four as the product of the author’s own neuroses, as in Anthony West’s celebrated claim that Oceania was merely Orwell’s prep school St. Cyprian’s writ large, are on firmer ground in that such a view does not involve standing the novel on its head. Even so, it does not explain why the novel has been so enduringly successful and why ‘dissident intellectuals’ (in Eastern Europe) were ‘”amazed” that the writer who never lived in Russia should understand the system so well’. To those who knew nothing of St. Cyprian’s and the details of his life, it seemed that Orwell was writing about a real and familiar world, not about himself. Read More:http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/ctc/docs/hell1984.htm
Orwell had long before written off the Communist experiment as a brutal failure. He was more immediately concerned with preserving deeper individual values. It seems that the threat of 1984 has roosted most firmly in American culture where competition rubs against the rough edge of human experience. Two contradictory values. The dehumanized society of financial mavericks and bankers, has left a dehumanized impression of almost traumatic proportions after the financial crisis. The values imposed by the profit motive and market slavery has obliterated natural human contact. Community is itself a commodity to be consumed not a lieu of being.
Orwell stressed the human and individual quality of his type of socialism which was based on transcendent values. Critics find him gloomy because he returned to classical stoicism and abandoned the notion of “progress” as a red herring. But, without the relativism of ideology to organize human affairs, only the stark absolutes of individual character remain.
Wallace: Mr. Huxley, in your new essays you state that these various enemies of freedom are pushing us to a real-life “Brave New World,” and you say that it’s awaiting us just around the corner. First of all, can you detail for us, what life in this Brave New World that you would fear so much, or what life might be like?
Huxley: Well, to start with, I think this kind of dictatorship of the future, I think will be very unlike the dictatorships which we’ve been familiar with in the immediate past. I mean, take another book prophesying the future, which was a very remarkable book, George Orwell’s “1984.” Well this book was written at the height of the Stalinist regime, and just after the Hitler regime, and there he foresaw a dictatorship using entirely the methods of terror, the methods of physical violence. Now, I think what is going to happen in the future is that dictators will find, as the old saying goes, that you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them! That if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in “Brave New World,” partly by these new techniques of propaganda. They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so making him actually love his slavery. I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn’t to be happy. Read More:http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2009/03/aldous-huxley.html