The terrors of a totalitarian government presented in George Orwell’s 1984 apply not only to the Party, but also to the Stalinist Russia of the 1930’s. Frightening similarities exist between these two bodies which both started out as forms of government, and then mutated into life-controlling political organizations which “subordinated all institutions and classes under one supreme power” (Buckler 924). Orwell shows how such a system can impose its will on the people through manipulation of media, constant supervision as aided by technology, and the threat of pain, both physical and mental. Orwell also shows how the state has more subtle methods for imposing its authority, such as the manipulation of language and propaganda as they are used to achieve the goal of absolute power for the system. A key parallel between the Party and Stalin’s Communism is the use of technology and communication to control the economic, social, and personal aspects of life.
Stalin and Big Brother achieved total control, not only of social and economic aspects of the state, but also of their people’s personal lives. They did this first and foremost by constantly observing the people. Both Stalin & “The Party” believed in total control over their “party members”. The objectives of the Spies, the Ministry of Truth, Thought Police, and the telescreens in Oceania are mirrored in Stalin’s Russia by the actions of the KGB, and all the technologies they used to monitor people. Another way was by altering all forms of media. The Ministry of Truth worked to change the past in all forms of media, making Big Brother appear to have always been right. Stalin had books rewritten, histories revamped, and paintings altered to feature his presence. Although unlimited control could not be achieved in 1930’s Russia, Orwell gives Big Brother this power to demonstrate how, if ever attained, it would lead to the complete destruction of individual freedom.
Tangible similarities between the two leaders, Stalin and Big Brother, are also daunting. Joseph Stalin could easily fit the description of Big Brother in the novel. Stalin had his 5-year plan for the economy, just as references were made to the 3-year plans in 1984. The Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement ever stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism, just as Stalin claimed to be following Lenin, when in reality he had his own ambitions.
Stalin used massive amounts of propaganda to show how well the soviets were doing. In reality most people were oppressed & hungry just as in 1984.”The Party” did the same through the false reports in the “Times” and over the telescreens. Also Stalin would eliminate any rivals for power (ex. when he killed off his rivals Kamenev & Zinoviev after a public trial where they were denounced as traitors). “The Party” does this with most of their”traitors”(Public hangings,etc…). Stalin “purged the people who did not agree with him when he came to power. So did “the Party”. They killed Winston’s parents and many others. Also Stalin exiled his primary political rival, Trotsky, just as “BIG BROTHER” got rid of Emanuel Goldstein. So as you can see Stalin’s “Soviet Union” was much like “Oceania” The monitoring for Big Brother is achieved by telescreens, the Thought Police, other Party member, and even your own family.
Another way both Stalin and Big Brother tried to gain power was by changing language. The Party seeks to stifle any individual or “potentially revolutionary” thought by introducing a new language, Newspeak, and the subsequent eradication of the English language. The introduction of this new language means that eventually, no one is able to commit thoughtcrime due to the lack of words to express it. This is a frightening concept; the restriction of your thought could destroy your personality if the ability to think for oneself was erased. “It’s a beautiful thing, destruction of words… You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston… Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we will make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” (Orwell 46).
“Newspeak” happened in most communist countries whereby the government “simplified” or deleted words from the dictionary and from peoples’ daily life (by penalizing those that use these words). This was the way government destroyed free speech and thoughts and any logical thinking, because people would lack the words to describe complex thoughts and abstract feelings. This way, the only things that can possibly make sense are what the party chooses for you to hear and learn.
They do not allow families Separating of families
they force people to only love Big Brother
In this society, privacy and freedom do not exist. People are constantly monitored by telescreens, and subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda. Any devious thought or action is dealt with by cruel and deadly punishment.
This punishment came in two forms, mental and physical. “The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain” (Marx). Both Stalin and Big Brother drew greatly from Marx. Adhering to this policy of physical pain to fix mental problems, torture was used in both societies. Every human has a breaking point, and fear, hate, and pain are more motivating than love, happiness, and privacy.
Renowned internationally as a forthright speaker against Stalin, Orwell was, however, an ardent Socialist and was keen to distance himself from Russian totalitarianism. His Socialist beliefs, coupled with his experience in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the revolutionary militia, led him to realize the threat of fascist, or at least autocratic, rule.
No other book has been known to inspire people with such a love of liberty and hatred of tyranny. The individual has a basic desire to be free from restraint and control, and Orwell recognized this. 1984 is an expression of Orwell’s irritation at many of the facets of English Socialism, as well as Russian Communism. It is also a reflection of his own ideas about the nature of political corruption and, to be specific, Stalinist Russia.