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Totalitarianism in Nazi Germany and George Orwell’s 1984 Essay Sample

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Totalitarianism in Nazi Germany and George Orwell’s 1984 Essay Sample

In his novel 1984 (1949), English writer George Orwell (1903-1950) warned readers about the dangers of totalitarianism. The novel focused on the fictional country of Oceania, which, ironically, bore striking similarities to Nazi Germany. Both Oceania and Nazi Germany were totalitarian societies, where the power of the state replaced the rule of law and ideology became a substitute for freedom of thought and conscience. Their respective leaders merged state and society to form a “new morality” (Powell, 88). In this “new morality,” ideology is the justification for the establishment of national, racist or social and class-oriented forms of community at the expense of existing laws and morals (Powell, 88).

Oceania and Nazi Germany were both governed by a patriarchal dictator who constantly monitors citizens for “subversive” behavior (Grey, 74). The tyrant of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, was the führer – the absolute leader who would usher in the “Aryan” race. To achieve this goal, the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, brutally eliminated Jews and dissenters. The ruler of Oceania, meanwhile, is “Big Brother,” a despot who kept himself in power through the Thought Police. The Thought Police was the Party’s secret police, tasked with arresting and executing thought-criminals.

The Nazis and the Party have the same idea of subversion. For these regimes, “subversion” does not necessarily translate to obvert rebellion. It could also mean deviation from any form of tenet (Grey, 74). The Nazis, for instance, believed that the “Aryan” race cannot coexist with “inferior” races. They therefore eradicated groups which they deemed “mediocre,” such as Jews, homosexuals, Communists and the handicapped.

The Party’s concept of subversion, on the other hand, is thoughtcrime. Thoughtcrime (also known as crimethink) includes even the mere thinking of thoughts that contradict the principles of the English Socialism Movement (Ingsoc). The Party’s paranoia is very much evident in thoughtcrime. The latter operates on the premise that thinking about crime starts wrongdoing. Thus, thought control is assumed to be the best means of controlling crime (Van Cleave, 101).

Both the Nazis and the Party used propaganda as a means of spreading their ideology. It must be noted that Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power in Germany through half-truths and scapegoats. In his public speeches, Hitler constantly blamed the Jews for the political, economic and social chaos that the country experienced right after World War I. His overly simplistic party line won him the support of the impoverished and demoralized Germans, who were desperate to have a leader who will restore Germany to its former glory.

The propaganda of the Party, meanwhile, was composed of newspeak and doublethink. Newspeak referred to the reengineered version of English that is spoken in Oceania (Joseph, 158). Doublethink, on the other hand, was the deliberate ignorance of inconsistencies in a given context. Standard English was stripped of its meaning and was transformed into euphemistic jargon that does not allow further discernment. As a result, vague and contradictory terms and slogans such as “goodsex,” “sexcrime,” “oldthink,” “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” are used as justifications for Party corruption and totalitarianism (Milroy and Milroy, 37).

Oceania and Nazi Germany are two examples of the very detrimental effects of totalitarianism. Both the Party and the Nazis used their respective ideologies as an excuse to abolish the rule of law and the freedom of thought and conscience. They obtained supporters through the usage of overly simplistic propaganda and kept themselves in power through brutal suppression of dissent. Indeed, Orwell was right to warn the world about totalitarianism.

Works Cited

Grey, Christopher. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about

            Studying Organizations. London: SAGE, 2005.

Joseph, John Earl. Limiting the Arbitrary: Linguistic Naturalism and Its Opposites in Plato’s

            Cratylus and the Modern Theories of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

            Publishing Company, 2000.

Milroy, James, and Lesley Milroy. Authority in Language: Investigating Standard English.

            New York: Routledge, 1999.

Powell, Frederick W. The Politics of Civil Society: Neoliberalism or Social Left? Bristol:

            The Policy Press, 2007.

Van Cleave, Robert. Big Brother as Doctor: Curing the Disease of Thoughtcrime in George

            Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eds. Gary Westfahl and George Edgar Slusser.

            Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.    

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