According to George Orwell, the freedom of speech is an essential element that should be granted by any authorities. When people are deprived of the possibility to express their thoughts in whatever form they want, then consider that there is no freedom of speech at all. The same goes for conveying ideas that stand against the general views of the public or government politics. “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to her,” wrote Orwell in one of his works. The same idea stands behind his dystopian novel 1984.
A dark story about the totalitarian country of Oceania reveals to what extent censorship of thoughts, language, and history promotes societal passiveness and obedience. The world sunk in paranoia and perpetual fear makes it dangerous to reveal what you really think in public. The main state establishment that is responsible for propaganda and censorship is, quite ironically, the Ministry of Truth.
It consists of many tine cubicles where workers are dealing with memory holes. This is a system of chutes which provide the workers with the press and personal letters that they are to change. The main character, Winston Smith, also works in this Ministry and his principal duty is to alter already existing written records following the order of the Party. This is how the enemy of the country changes every couple of years without being noticed by population.
And there are thousands and thousands of people like Winston who form a huge mechanism of censorship by destroying and replacing politically inconvenient documents. By changing the past, the Party controls people’s beliefs about the present situation and their foreign enemies. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”. Media is used to establish unyielding dominance over people’s minds by turning any lie into a divine truth.
Censorship is present in every aspect of human existence. And the government has decided to start from the language people speak. Following their sick plan to turn everyone into a puppet, the Party has elaborated a newly-coined political language, Newspeak. This is an artificial language which contains only those grammar and vocabulary that suit the purpose of English Socialism. All the mentions about the previous world order will eventually vanish as there won’t be words to name things and feelings.
This controlled language doesn’t give any opportunity to express ideas which can harm the totalitarian ideology. To make matters worse, The Party has also created a method to get into people’s heads and control their thoughts. If they notice any indication of abnormality, this becomes a thought crime, a type of disobedience that leads to immediate even capital punishment. An anxious look or improper facial expression is a crime too that automatically suggests that this person is hiding something.