Literature is the highest activity of human mind. It cannot flourish in a period of totalitarian regime. Unless writers and authors are totally free, there is no future or hope for literature.
If totalitarianism spreads in other countries, literature will come to an end. People will have no urge to write books because their original power of thinking freely will completely disappear.
Some persons can say that literature flourished in the past although there were much orthodoxy was different from the present dictatorship. In medieval Europe, the Church dictated what you should believe, but at least it allowed you to retain the same beliefs from birth to death. It did not tell you to believe one thing on Monday and another on Tuesday and the same is more or less true of any orthodox Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim today. In a sense, his thoughts are circumscribed, but he passes his whole life within the same framework of thought. His emotions are not tampered with.
In our age, there is all round demand for freedom of speech. Every where freedom of press and speech are regarded as fundamental rights, but there is also attack on intellectual liberty from two sides.
The first attack comes from the Totalitarians and the other side which attacks liberty is those of Monopolists and bureaucrats. The Communists attack intellectual liberty on the basis that liberty is not possible in a society divided among classes. Only in a classless society, freedom of speech is possible. A society dominated by capitalists exploits the proletariat and never lets them speak freely.
Seventy years back, freedom of speech had to be saved from the attack of conservatism. But now freedom of speech had to be saved from the fascists. Because, throughout the world, fascism became a very powerful movement in many modern countries.
Hitler was a great danger to freedom of speech in the thirties and forties of the 20th century. He would not allow the intellectuals to express their opinion freely on social and economic problems.
But after the Second World War, when Fascism and Dictatorship of Hitler were laid low, the communists began to attack freedom of speech and thought. Their argument is that intellectual liberty breaks discipline and promotes individualism. The Communists believe that the idea of freedom of thought is romantic and sentimental. The Communistic thesis is that pure freedom exists in a classless society. The real freedom of thought is exercised when one is busy with the attempt to change the society. The Communists forget that they are aiming at the establishment of classless society. In the U.S.S.R., this aim is actually being realized.
In his B.B.C. talks on Literature and Totalitarianism in 1941 Orwell said Totalitarianism has abolished freedom of thought to an extent unheard of in any previous age……….. It not only forbids you to express even to think, it creates an ideology for you, up a code of conduct. And as far as possible it isolates you form the outside world, it shuts you up in an artificial totalitarian state tries, at any rate to control the thoughts and emotion of its subject as least as completely as it controls their actions.
He was terrified and shocked by it and Spanish experience convinced him that in the authoritarian regimes of modern age history can never be truthfully written. These dispersed ideas on totalitarianism have closed link with Nineteen Eighty four. The kind of world Orwell has depicted in nineteen Eighty-Four has its genesis in his summary of Burnham’s thesis of political future in the Managerial Revolution. The wars are fought not due to any ideological dispute or material gains but for labour power and to force the masses to live the life of want and bare necessities. These have adopted the socialism but they pay only lip service to their ideology. In Oceania, the Socialism is called IngSoc and the slogans, war is peace. ‘Freedom is slavery’ and ‘Ignorance is strength’ are the ruling clique of Oceania, rejects and defames every fundamental motives of socialism and the irony lying here is that all the things are done in the name of socialism and the irony lying here is that all the things are done in the name of socialism. Its political thoughts are authoritarian which favors class gradation, regimentation, forced confinements and trials, confessions, liquidation of opponents and the use of hostages and war prisoners for political ends. It denies every kind of privilege and liberty to its citizens and party-members. All these things are done to concentrate more and more power in the hands of the party. The party tries to continue the hierarchy system and comfortable life for everyone will obliterate the inequality and the masses living a leisured and secure life may try to oust the privileged minority by becoming literate. In the dark world of Nineteen Eighty-Four the people are denied not only freedom of speech but freedom of thought also. They are cut of from the outer world as well as past and have no private life or thinking. They are compelled for complete obedience to the will of the state and even the petty departure from the party doctrine is not tolerated. The party-members are not expected to have the feelings of love for any other person except Big Brother.
Nineteen Eighty-Four forms the epilogue of his literary career. Orwell wanted to warn his countrymen of the coming danger of totalitarianism and therefore he has pictured a gloomy and dull society barefoot of any gaiety and pleasure and full of terror and corruption. By creating an anti-Utopia so credible he has succeeded in alarming his readers. He has used here the technique of reportage. Without wasting words Orwell describes the society of oceanic in plain simple sentences. Its diction is crisp and hard. Many of its words have gone into the psyche of the intellectuals. It has increased the vocabulary of English by producing new words and phrases with noun and pronoun changing into adjectives. Its title itself has become a familiar word. Besides the words like Newspeak, Doublethink, Thought crime Miniature Minipex, Minilav, Ingsoc, Crimestop, black white phrases like Big Brother is watching you. Ignorance is strength, war is peace and Freedom is slavery have become household words and pareses explaining Orwellian situation in any country. Orwell has not used Marxian words while attacking socialism.
Orwell was also worried about the freedom of speech for a creative writing which can be achieved through language. He considered language a means of communication. His view that good prose is like a window-pane means that by going through a piece of writing one can glance the face not of the writer but of the one to whom the writer wants to produce
The communists believe that real freedom can only exist in a classless society, and an individual’s freedom depends in so far as he helps in establishing such a society. and an individual’s freedom depends in so far as he helps in establishing such a society. It is claimed that the Communist party is trying to establish such a society and that such a society is almost established in Soviet Russia. Thus, even the supporters of intellectual freedom tend to favor Russia and the Communist system. Historical facts are perverted to extol what goes on in Russia. This is against the idea of intellectual freedom. According to Orwell. “Freedom of the intellect means the freedom to report what one has seen, heard, and felt, and not be obliged to fabricate imaginary facts and feeling. The familiar tirades against escapism and individualism. romanticism and so forth are merely a forensic device, the aim of which is to make the perversion of history seem respectable.
1. Tom Hopkison George Orwell winters and their work series No 39 C London longman’s Green & Co. Ltd 1953 P.1
2. George Orwell Review power, A New Analysis by Bertrand Russell CEJL Vol. I P.2
3. George Orwell Nineteen Eighty Four P.3
4. George Orwell Politics and the English language CEJL IV P.4
Dr. Md. Naushad Alam
Associate Professor, Dept. of English
M.L. Arya College Kasba, Purnea, Bihar.