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1984 Compared to Cults

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Essay title: 1984 Compared to Cults

In the book 1984, written by George Orwell, there is a group portrayed that is similar to what society would call a cult. A cult is defined as a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. Totalism is described as the principle of complete and unrestricted power in government.

The books main themes include language as mind control and psychological and physical intimidation and manipulation. In the book, the people live in a city which is very out of the ordinary and also overseen by a charismatic leader, Big Brother. This society, portrayed by George Orwell has all the elements of a cult-like and totalist society.

Oceania, which is the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa, is where Winston Smith lives in the book 1984. Ingsoc, newspeak for English Socialism, is the political ideology of Oceania. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” is the slogan of Oceania, which is displayed on the pyramid of the Ministry of Truth. The Ministry of Truth is where they change books to reflect the party’s ideology. “The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating clichй. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis” (Lifton). Big Brother used this method to break down the party’s complex theories and put them into one phrase. “War is peace” is the part that keeps all the people of Oceania united. Big Brother makes the people of Oceania think that they are in a state of constant war. By making the people think this, the people stay united against the other countries that “threaten” them. “Freedom is slavery” is used to scare people into remaining loyal to Big Brother. The party is saying that anyone who strays from Big Brother will surely fail. “Ignorance is strength” means that the inability of the people to realize how the party is keeping power is how the party stays in power.

This type of language puts people on a leash and the more they repeat the party’s slogans, the shorter the leash gets. Eventually, a person’s independence and strength becomes so weak that they live in a world of fear, forced upon them by false words and promises. Once this happens, the followers will believe anything that the party tells them, even if it makes no sense at all. In 1984, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of waging perpetual war, which is the complete opposite of what someone would think. This is what we call “doublespeak”. Doublespeak is when someone uses language that says one thing, but means the other. Most people would think the Ministry of Peace would be in charge of keeping peace between Oceania and the other countries. The Ministry of Truth was in charge of changing books to reflect the party’s ideology. If it were actually the Ministry of Truth, then it wouldn’t be feeding lies to the people of Oceania. The Ministry of Love is in charge of torturing people, which is also ironic. Winston never goes into the building until the end, when he is kept prisoner.

Just like in 1984, cults control the flow of information within their community. Milieu control is the method that they most commonly use. Basically, milieu control is the control of all communication within an environment. ”In such an environment individual autonomy becomes a threat to the group. There is an attempt to manage an individual's inner communication. Milieu control is maintained and expressed by intense group process, continuous psychological pressure, and isolation by geographical distance, unavailability of transportation, or even physical restraint. Often the group creates an increasingly intense sequence of events such as seminars, lectures and encounters which makes leaving extremely difficult, both physically and psychologically. Intense milieu control can contribute to a dramatic change of identity which I call doubling: the formation of a second self which lives side by side with the former one, often for a considerable time. When the milieu control is lifted, elements of the earlier self may be reasserted” (Lifton). In the book 1984, Winston tries to be different from everyone else, but it isn’t possible since it is so noticeable when one person is different among thousands. Winston is involved in intense group processes such as the “two-minutes hate”. The two-minutes hate is a daily video that is viewed by everyone in Oceania. It starts out with the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, once a leader of Oceania, but now a depicted traitor. This always gets the people worked up because they hate him so much.

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