To Orwell Today,

I was fascinated by your comparisons of 1984 to today. I was wondering if you would be willing to help me

- write a dialogue where you argue directly with characters who speak for the government in 1984 and find their flaws -

Do you have ideas what quotes would be good and what flaws are in their argument? I have no idea if this is the kind of thing you discuss or not.

Thanks anyway for reading this,

Greetings Karin,

There is actually a dialogue on that very subject in "1984".

It's between O'Brien and Winston in the Ministry of Love (Torture). O'Brien is telling Winston that the government (Big Brother) will rule the world forever with cruelty and lies and that human beings will never be allowed to put up any resistance. Winston is saying that goodness is stronger and human beings will take control one day:

"...The rule of the Party is forever. Make that the starting point of your thoughts." He came closer to the bed.

"For ever!" he repeated....

"You know the Party slogan: 'Freedom is Slavery'. Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone - free - the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body, but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter - external reality, as you would call it - is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute. We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation - anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.

"But you do not!" Winston burst out, making a violent effort to raise himself into a sitting position. "You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet."

"Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we do not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world."

"But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny - helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited."

"Nonsense, the earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing."

Winston said nothing and shrank back upon the bed. Winston knew, he knew that the belief that nothing exists outside one's own mind was false and could be exposed as a fallacy and could be demonstrated as false.

O'Brien said: "The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day is not power over things, but over men. How does one man assert power over another, Winston?"

"By making him suffer," Winston said.

"Exactly, by making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own.... If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

He paused as though he expected Winston to speak. Winston had tried to shrink back into the surface of the bed again. He could not say anything. His heart seemed to be frozen. O'Brien went on:

"And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again....This drama that I have played out with you during seven years will be played out over and over again generation after generation, always in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible - and in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord. That is the world that we are preparing, Winston. A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, become part of it."

Winston had recovered himself sufficiently to speak.

"You can't!" he said weakly.

"What do you mean by that remark, Winston?"

"You could not create such a world as you have just described. It is a dream. It is impossible."

"Why?" said O'Brien.

"It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit suicide." said Winston.

"Nonsense. Can you not understand that the death of the individual is not death? The Party is immortal."

As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness. Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement O'Brien would twist the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent. Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of what O'Brien had said, he returned to the attack:

"I don't know - I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you."

"We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the Party. The others are outside - irrelevant."

"I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they will see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces."

"Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any reason why it should?"

"No. I believe it. I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe - I don't know, some spirit, some principle - that you will never overcome."

"Do you believe in God, Winston?"


"Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?"

"I don't know. The spirit of Man."

"And do you consider yourself a man?"


"If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent."

His manner changed and he said more harshly:

"And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies and our cruelty?"

"Yes, I consider myself superior."....

I hope the above excerpt gives you some ideas for your "finding the government flaws" assignment. To read the dialogue in its entirety go to 42.The Party Tells 'Why'.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~
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