Shahin Shafaei plays himself in Through the Wire.
Photo: Supplied


by: George Orwell

Nineteen eighty four is a tale of future society, a society in which independent thinking is a
crime punishable by death. This is also a society who's leaders are self
serving and don't set their goals for the common good by which all of the
society will benefit. The party doesn't need to justify its selfish ways
because it holds all of the power. The symbol of the party was Big
Brother. The idealism of blind loyalty was embodied in this symbol. It
was the centre of control. The Party has set its agenda of completely
controlling every single human mind by narrowing down the complexity of
human thought. They will try accomplish this through the elimination of
speech to a form where humans can no longer think for themselves. These
future citizens would not be able to commit any crimes against the Party.
There is no possible way these humans would even think "criminal"
thoughts to begin with since they had no knowledge of any crime from
personal experience or history. The main character of this book is
Winston Smith. Even though he is portrayed as a criminal, I believe that
he is a victim of a system that is criminal. All through this book
Winston's convictions lead us to believe that he is ethical and the Party
is unjust but it is left up to the readers discretion to decide whether
he is the criminal or just a victim of a totalitarian society. The first
instance of Winstons "criminal" nature was when he bought an illegal
journal, quill and bottle of ink to record his thoughts. Although he had
so called "criminal" thoughts before, the journal seemed to bring out the
more daring ideas in him as to how to get free from the Party's reign.
This all indirectly led to his meeting with a woman called Julia who
shared his feelings and was either very brave or very foolish because
she was more open then he about her feelings. I believe that these and
the other actions following his initial "criminal" offence are justified
and that Winston Smith is not a "criminal". My first set of examples as
to the flaws in the Party government are how they pitted family members
against each other, and how the true nature of the family was destroyed
because of this. The controlling intentions of the Party were reflected in
how children were used to spy on their parents. The toys given to the
children such as ear horns were used to listen in on the conversations
of their parents. Through groups and activities that were provided , the
children were actually taught how to spy and were given justification for
this act. They were given the title of "Child Hero" when they denounced
their parents and reported them to the thought police. The children felt
it was perfectly acceptable to inform on their parents to the authorities
even though it meant punishment for their mothers and fathers. When
Winston was in jail he met a colleague named Mr. Parsons who's child
turned him in for saying " down with big brother " in his sleep. Husbands
and wives were also affected. They would report their spouses or children
if they said anything improper, did anything improper, displayed a facial
tick or any other abnormalities. The Party took away the
basic pleasures of their people, as another method of control. One
example of this is how the food was intentionally very bland and
tasteless. There is an account in the book where Winston is in a public
cafeteria and longingly remembers a better time and how food was
pleasurable then. Another example od pleasure deprivation is how they
brought sex down to a level where the general public was repulsed by the
thought via the anti-sex league. The public continued having sex as it
was the will of the Party that people must reproduce. The degradation of
sex also kept the married and unmarried alike brimming with energy for
hate week, war marches and other fascist public activities which the
people had to attend. A specific example of the degradation of sex in
Winston's life was the account he made in his journal of his wife's
attitude towards sex and how she cringed at his touch. She called sex
"our duty to the Party" or "making a baby". Because of his wife, he
became as repulsed at the idea of sex with her as she was with him.
Winston recalls becoming physically sick at the mention of it. Winston
wasn't satisfied with the status quo regarding sex. It eventually led to
their divorce. It is important to mention that there were two classes
of people, Party citizens and Proles. What rules apply to the Party
citizens did not necessarily apply to the lower class Proles. They
government did not care about the Proles who were not important to them.
Although Proles were allowed to drink any alcohol and gamble, this was not
acceptable for Party citizens. This was part of the denial of pleasure.
In order for the people to believe the Party's perversions of the truth,
the Party had to make their fiction reality. The Party slaughtered people
,burned books, shredded and altered documents in order to control
information. Winston Smith's job was to alter old government documents,
birth certificates and many other things. Winston was a willing part of
this deception until his realization that what he was doing was immoral.
His troubling conscience drove him to record his feelings in his illegal
journal as part of his personal rebellion. The ultimate deception
that the Party perpetrated on the people was the war the Party staged
against it's own citizens using a created villain named Goldstein.( It's
interesting that this Jewish name was given to a villain in this novel
written in 1947 by a Party modelled after Hitler's fascist Germany ). To
keep it's economy going Oceania had to be in a constant state of war thus
the Party's creation of Goldstein. This character broadcasted "criminal"
thoughts for two minutes each day and enraged the citizens to the point
that they gladly went to war. The Partys goal was achieved. This
calculated deception lead to senseless suffering and death of numerous
Party citizens and Proles. At the end of this novel the
reader is left with the decision of where the crime lies. This decision
is subjective. Democracy is a model of government which I have chosen to
compare. It is the same style of government which both the author and
myself have experienced and it is the one which serves its people the
most effectively. If you believe in social order at any expense as do
fascists, then you will have to believe Winston Smith is a criminal. If
one takes a more humane approach, you will have to look at the numbers of
people that were hurt or killed by this "Party Government's" actions.
Humans are a social animal and they need interaction and contact with
other humans to thrive. The uncontrollable need to belong to a group
sometimes drives people to compromise themselves. A common example of
this is a teenagers choice of music, clothing etc to belong to the group.
A more extreme example are religious cult members such as David Koresh's
Branch Dividians who even voluntarily excepted the order to kill
themselves. People become willing to accept the unacceptable until there
conscience will no longer allow it. This is what happened to Winston
Smith. He was a product of his humanity and it should not be a crime to
be a human.