"War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is strength."
Does this sound weird to you? Probably. The slogans were taken from Orwell's "1984" and in the book, they are the slogans of the government. Can you imagine being governed by a government that operates on the basis os slogans like these?
In the book, Orwell takes the reader on a journey into a disturbing future. A future in which mass surveillance is openly practiced by the government and where freedom of speech, thought or opinion are not valued because everyone has to believe in the same things. It's a world that's constantly at war and in which only three states are left. A world in which citizens cannot trust each other because everyone could denounce you to the so-called "Thought Police". Any crime committed against the government, even if it is just the thought of doing something against the government, is severely punished.
But what it you don't simply believe everything the government tells you? What if you did not forget how to doubt statements? Then you simply have no choice but to cover it up because being discovered means being punished. The state is based on public manipulation to control everyone's opinion and so you have to try to act like you believe everything. You need to control your facial expressions, your words and even your sleep, because they can watch you while you dream and you do not want them to hear anything suspicious while you speak in your dreams.
The protagonist of the book, Winston Smith, does not believe in the greatness of the government and therefore risks his life with every thought. For years, he lives a mediocre life and pretends to be enthusiastic about everything the government wants the population to believe and only allows his thoughts to wander when he controls his expression with care and when he is alone.. well, as much alone as you can be in a world where everyone is observed by cameras - even in their own homes. He meets a like-minded girl and starts to consider joining a resistance group. But can you resist effectively in a world where no one doubts and everyone simply believes the government because they were told to do so?
The book reminded me of a quotation by Benjamin Franklin: "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." In the world of "1984", giving up your freedom of thought, speech and opinion provides security - but are you really secure when every thought might put your life in jeopardy?
I really loved reading this book because it fascinated me and the suspense was well built. You always want to know what happens next and you want to find out more about this weird world in which all democratic values seem to be violated. I know that some of you guys will probably have to read this book for school (I read it in my free time), but even if you don't, I'd highly recommend reading it. It is worth every minute you spend reading it and raises an interesting question for the reader: What would you do?
The title picture of this article was taken by Gloria K.