Is the satire of 1984 effective?

The satire of 1984 may be considered effective or ineffective, depending on what you consider its target to be. Specific targets, such as the degradation of language for political purposes, are attacked with undeniable force. Opinion is divided as to how effective the novel is as a general satire of Communism.

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To decide whether the satire of 1984 is effective, you must first determine its target. Many readers see the book as a satire of Communism or totalitarian socialism. Others, like Orwell's biographer, Bernard Crick, see a more comprehensive satire of the direction in which Orwell discerned society moving, with a multitude of targets. In the article attached below, Crick names seven such targets, including "the abuse and degradation of languages for purposes of control" and "the theses of James Burnam" (who argued that Communism and Capitalism would converge in an authoritarian managerial system).

If you decide that 1984 has various targets, then you may think the satire effective in some cases and not in others. To take one of Crick's chosen targets, it would be difficult to argue that Orwell's critique of the political degradation of language is not devastatingly effective. The idea of Newspeak was so compelling that Orwell even felt inspired to outline its principles in an appendix to the novel, and memorable Newspeak words describing key concepts pepper the text.

One word which has entered the English language, which you may wish to consider in evaluating the effectiveness of the satire, is the adjective "Orwellian." George Orwell wrote various books, but it is the atmosphere of this one that is evoked in the word to which he gave his name. Ask a few people what they understand by "an Orwellian society," and you may get a sense of how effectively Orwell's satire has worked on them.

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