In "1984" by George Orwell, what are some aspects of Oceania’s governmental policies that we can equate with factual or historical characteristics of society.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Doublethink: In the novel, doublethink is the ability to hold two simultaneously contradicting concepts at the same time, which essentially cancel each other out and allow the person to accept the given statement fully. While this concept is not entirely mirrored throughout our society's political arena, the inception of "alternative facts," which was coined by U.S. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, is similar to doublethink. Essentially, American citizens have a choice as to what statistics or facts they choose to believe as opposed to there being an actual fact of the matter. A person's choice typically centers around their political beliefs and party leanings.  

For example, the left wing media outlets reported that President Trump's inauguration attendance was less than that of Obama, while right wing media outlets challenged this opinion and backed President Trump's statement that,

This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.

Citizens receive two contradicting reports regarding the same event and get to choose whatever story they want to believe. Essentially, facts are up for debate in today's political arena, which is similar to how no statement and every statement is true using doublethink.

2. Two Minutes of Hate: Throughout the novel, Party members are expected to participate in a daily exercise called the Two Minutes of Hate, in which images of enemies of the state, such as Emmanuel Goldstein, flash onto a large screen while Party members express their pent-up negative emotions. While Americans are not required to express their hate in a daily two-minute exercise, the government does employ scapegoats similar to Goldstein. In today's America, citizens can watch the news and see images or stories on Putin or Kim Jong Un any day. These two particular individuals are America's enemies, and their images are often employed to distract citizens from other pressing issues.

3. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU Posters: The ubiquitous Big Brother posters of a stern man with a mustache staring directly at citizens of Oceania resembles the Uncle Sam Wants You posters used during the First World War. The American government used this poster and others as propaganda to encourage citizens to enlist in the United States Army.

4. Constant atmosphere of hysteria: In the novel, Winston states that one way the government keeps the population under control is by manufacturing an atmosphere of hysteria. Similarly, America's 24-hour news networks manufacture fear and anxiety through their constant coverage of horrific events. From impending war with North Korea to domestic terror attacks, the 24-hour news networks keep citizens focused on the negative, terrifying events that take place throughout our country and the world. This fear-based news coverage keeps viewers glued to their stations while simultaneously manufacturing a type of hysteria throughout society.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If one watches the news and engages in social media, it may very well seem that George Orwell's nightmarish vision in 1949 has, indeed, been prophetic. Here are some aspects that may contribute to this opinion:

1. "Big Brother is Watching You"

The possibility of governmental spying. In the news there have been reports of overreach on the part of the National Security Agency (NSA). Major news networks have reported that the NSA secretly implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world. Computers do not need to be turned on because spying can be done through radio waves. 

AT&T has also been involved in NSA's surveillance:

AT&T’s counts 301,816 total requests for information — spread between subpoenas, court orders and search warrants — in 2013. That includes between 2,000 and 4,000 under the category “national security demands,” which collectively gathered information on about 39,000 to 42,000 different accounts.

2.  Constant War

While the United States has not been involved in declared war continuously, it has been involved in wars since the Civil War in 1865 approximately every 20 years or less.

3. Distracting the people

In the Orwellian world, the Proles are distracted with lotteries, pornography, food, etc. Nowadays, many people spend their waking time in cyberspace more than they do in reality. Many occupy themselves with pornography, games, social media, etc. Some news media do not report all that occurs. For instance,  reported the "inadequate" reportage of NBC Nightly News on the attack of the US embassy in Benghazi.

4. Newspeak

It is evident that "political correctness" demands that people use euphemisms in many situations. One incident which is cited as an example of this euphemistic speech is the Ft. Hood shooting in which Maj. Nidal Hasan while yelling "Allahu Akbar" killed 13 personnel was termed "workplace violence" rather than terrorism.