Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, not as a prediction of actual future events, but to warn the world against what he feared would be the fate of humanity if totalitarian regimes were allowed to seize power as they had done recently in Germany under Hitler and in the Soviet Union under Stalin. In the aftermath of World War II, Anglo-American intellectuals were reluctant to criticize the Soviet regime, despite evidence of Stalin's despotism, because Russia had been an ally against Germany and Japan. Orwell, who witnessed firsthand the Soviet-backed Communists' brutal suppression of rival political groups during the Spanish Civil War, returned from the war an outspoken critic of Communism. For the rest of his life he worked tirelessly to expose the evils of totalitarianism and to promote what he called "democratic socialism." To reviewers who wished to see his book as a critique of Soviet Communism, Orwell maintained that he had set the book in Britain in order to show that totalitarianism could succeed anywhere if it were not fought against. In the novel, INGSOC represents the worst features of both the Nazi and Communist regimes. The Party's ultimate ambition is to control the minds as well as the bodies of its citizenry, and thus control reality itself. Totalitarianism was an outgrowth of Socialism, which arose as a response to industrialization, and sought to create more equitable societies by centralizing production and abolishing private property in favor of collective ownership. Emmanuel Goldstein's book, parts of which Winston reads in Book II, outlines the methods by which a totalitarian regime consolidates and extends its power.
Totalitarianism and Communism ThemeTracker
Totalitarianism and Communism Quotes in 1984
Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood out in bold capitals:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.
That, [Winston] reflected, might almost have been a transcription from one of the Party textbooks. The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. […] But simultaneously, true to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules.
And then—no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment—one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
“Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!”
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer." — "No," he said, "you don't feel the same."