Compare Saddam Hussein's dictatorship to George Orwell's book 1984.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Saddam Hussein's dictatorship employed many of the methods used by the Party and Big Brother in 1984. For example, he developed a cult of personality around himself, one projected through the portraits and statues of himself found everywhere one looked in Iraqi cities. This, of course, is one of the defining characteristics of Big Brother, whose face looked down at Party members in London with the caption "Big Brother is Watching You."

Secondly, like the Party in 1984, Saddam used brutal tactics to maintain his regime. He routinely purged Ba'ath Party members in an effort to maintain fear among even his closest advisors. He sent thousands of accused traitors to their deaths, and even gassed thousands of Kurdish civilians in a separatist region in northern Iraq. Likewise, the Party sent people suspected of thoughtcrime to their deaths or, as in the case of Winston Smith, their torture within the Ministry of Love.

Finally, Saddam was a cynical tyrant who exercised power for its own sake even while he described himself as, variously, a bulwark against terrorism, a modern-day Saladin resisting Western aggression, and an enlightened advocate of modernization in the Arab world. Whether or not Saddam actually read 1984, it seems clear that he would have identified with the goals of the Party as revealed by O'Brien during his torture of Winston:

The Party seeks power for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power...We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. 

Like the brutal twentieth-century dictatorships that inspired 1984, Saddam sought power and totalitarian control of his people, and he did so at the cost of countless lives. Of course, Saddam never achieved the level of control exercised by the Party in Orwell's dystopian nightmare, but his methods and his motives recall those described in the book.

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