1984: the Totalitarian Ideological Criticism of Orwellian

Orwellian and Stalinism

Precisely on June 6 in 1949, George Orwell published 1984, depicting the totalitarian ideological criticism of Orwellian. It is an anti-utopian dystopian or satire novel at some point. It is temporally different from the period in which Orwell lived at least with time first published book. 1984′s background is none other than the author’s reflection on his political experience. Similarly, it published about four years after the second world war and the onset of the cold war. Internal contemplation is not accessible from the constant terror and brutality of world ideologies such as fascism and communism. This novel one of the most influential novels to date in contemporary English literature.

As to how power in totalitarian conditions operates, Orwell is a socialist. His primary target of criticism directed at the communism of the Soviet Union; Joseph Stalin’s regime was in power at that time. For Orwell, he agreed with anti-Stalinists from the start and criticized the bitter assault on the Soviet Union since 1936. At the same time, unlike his propaganda-minded contemporaries, he understanding it better from within as well. Orwell considers that, apart from being a criticism, it is also a disappointment to the vile regime of Stalin’s communism. He is using all means to perpetuate power and distort the ideals of socialism itself.


The world is classified into three major countries, namely Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. They are in constant warfare for the sake of dominating each other. Winston Smith, the main character, is a member of the ruling Ingsoc party in Oceania. He is a devout servant of Big Brother and works at the Ministry of Truth. In addition, he forms public opinion and ways of thinking that align with the Party’s vision. Happy to do his duties every day, he finally realizes that people do not know how their life goes. They went from the past to the present. They never know history properly because none other than the Party reverses reality by changing and shaping the truth according to the Party’s will.

The Disruption Reality

The world in 1984 was full of upheaval, as the totalitarian ideological criticism of Orwellian with warfare has become a habit, without black, making it even more gloomy. Reality becomes blurred, very cruel, and society no longer knows what is right and wrong. Big Brother is Watching You posters are everywhere as if watching everyone’s movements. Television screens consistently report the Party’s military forces’ victories, economic stability, and improving living standards. However, to find something like a razor alone, Winston had to trick people into keeping his so-called low stock.

Winston Smith Against the Order

Winston finally began to become aware of and disgusted by the totalitarian system of the Party under the power of Big Brother, always in the name of the common good. He started his hatred by secretly writing diaries to spark a little hope from the hypocritical world he lived in. His writing always tells about the Big Brother dictatorship towards each individual’s life pattern, which Winston does by all means. The culmination of the anxiety that influenced Winston’s mindset was a rebellion against the Party, starting with his meeting with Julia, a young woman he initially suspected of being a party spy.

Julia Against the Inclination

Julia’s encounter makes Winston feel completely human because, without coercion, he can love someone with all his heart. Together with Julia, Winston freely spits out all the contents of his mind which was once a pen in his diary just uncovering. However, Winston’s freedom in the enjoyment of writing and discussing it with Julia did not last long. Winston’s hopes for a peaceful, free, calm world without the intervention of other systems or power structures never seem to have materialized. The Thought Police detected his happiness with Julia and his freedom of thought; they acted on all forms of policy content and line of mindset by Big Brother.

The Party Against the Combatant

The Party accused them of both sex crimes, doctrinal crimes, and crimes of thought. For other reasons, a crime with the intent of treason against the Party and society considered Winston’s critique of individual liberty. They both were separated; as punishment, they had to undergo physical torture and undergo a period of indoctrination. After serving their sentence and indoctrination, Winston and Julia have forgotten each other. However, they often meet briefly, and Winston must return to his life of isolation, full of solitude and indulging all of what Big Brother wants. Big Brother is always watching them, and they all have to obey him.

The Depiction of 1984

In short, 1984 is a political novel and totalitarian ideological criticism of Orwellian written to warn readers about the dangers of totalitarian rule. Orwell witnessed firsthand the horrific journey he took by totalitarian governments in Spain and Russia to maintain and increase their power, designing 1984 to sound a warning in other countries still unsure about approaching the rise of communism. Apart from depicting a perfectly totalitarian society, a modern government with absolute power can imagine the most extreme realization. If totalitarianism is not an opposition, the variety of worlds depicted in the novel becomes a reality in only thirty-five years.

The book describes how the government monitors and controls every aspect of human life; it also represents a violation of the law when having disloyal thoughts. As the novel progresses, Winston, timidly revolting, prepares to challenge Party power limits only to find if his ability to control and enslave his people even dwarfs the paranoid conception of its reach. The Party, on the other hand, uses several techniques to control its citizens in terms of word choice, technology, television, writing, criticism, goods, or just spitting.

The Contemporary Context

Even though the future is now in the past, Orwell always thinks of 1984 as the ideological criticism of Orwellian and his fictional actuation inviting readers not only to imagine a world in crisis because of a totalitarian system. However, he also reflects on how society’s power structure works and dominates nature and human autonomy. 1984 raises questions in the author, such as how do we read Orwell’s futuristic dream today in its contemporary context, or does Orwell grip this relevance in the era of postmodernism and late-capitalism?

Besides being a reflection of the power structure that operates in society, various ways used in ideological criticism. However, in general, in the broader community, the organization understands the most neutral ideology. Basic ideas should not be started from any prejudice to be known with patience. Understanding power structures and how they work in this open era is complex. Society can assume that ideology is the science of ideas, doctrine, belief, idea, and world view in a neutral framework. A set of imaginary concepts understood as it, which means that it is incompatible with reality to perpetuate power.

The Pragmatic Dimension

In terms of the practical dimension, Winston personally, apart from just floating in thought, met with Julia, being his lover and a friend in exchanging ideas and the Party’s unnatural line of policies. He met O’Brien, a core party member; he believed he was on his side and had access to a brotherhood that allowed freedom of thought. Winston met with O’Brien several times, discussing the fraternity and his agenda for active rebellion against the Party even if it was difficult. Winston’s search for the sensible meaning of complete brotherhood is not limited to collectivity alone. Little by little, with that aim, he wanted to find a feeling as a human being that was valuable even though it did not produce anything, at least in his mind, he had defeated the Party.

Ingsoc and the Human Language

Orwell reflected on Winston’s picture and wrote a diary of his unrest at the dictatorship of power with his various policies. Orwell conveys that Winston could at least be free to escape from hypocrisy and a world without hope by expressing anything in writing, even in a clandestine way. The Party’s constant propaganda made things blurry. The past is erased, erasure is forgotten, and lies become truth. The philosophy and logic of the Party reject all forms of factual external reality to the validity of human experience apart from the figure of Winston still believing in human reason by leaving the paradoxical rational dogmatize of the Party.

Ingsoc, led by Big Brother in Oceania, first touched the human language dimension by creating a new Newspeak language. Thus, what distinguishes humans from other creatures is language, and in speech, humans live or are formed through language. In linguistics, having dialectics about an event and meaning, with human language, makes it possible to understand and articulate an explanation or possibility. By creating Newspeak as the official language and the only means of communication, Ingsoc and Big Brother can easily control their citizens. Orwell made an appendix that explicitly discusses the Newspeak language rules in great detail and comprehensively, in addition to explaining from the core of Newspeak to the level of grammar and vocabulary.


Newspeak limits freedom of thought to ignore the freedom, expression, identity, and individualism of a person considered a threat to party ideology and Big Brother. Control in this form of language limits freedom of thought. Still, gradually and systematically, the Party, with their Newspeak, wants to change the climate of thinking that the Party does not determine. This stage then embodies an ideology in the daily practices of the people of Oceania in general and represented in the family, media, schools, and others until it planted, becomes a seed, then a tree, and becomes the belief of every individual.

The Consciousness and Unconsciousness

After all, pictures of how ideology works in a society, both consciously and unconsciously, play a vital role in constructing individual social and political realities. Not only a kind of abstract idea, through the apparatus, but doctrine also has a material form in the daily practices of the individual itself. In interpreting an individual or community group’s ideology, it simply accepts the truth of the image they think is true without any valid reason. Without adhering to common sense, the doctrine is like having a mystical power that can change judgment, think about something, and not forget social practices.

In general, Orwell describes a reality that has been grasped; the system validates itself in symbolic and cultural hegemony. Its power in economics and politics is getting stronger and makes a kind of communication in distortion. In addition to the progressive individuals, Orwell’s ideological critique reflects criticism by externalizing ideology or ideology in each tangible individual. In the fundamental analysis, Orwell shows a significant influence, despite the limitations on social strata, in minor social reproduction. However, Orwell’s failure is a sign of the liberal consensus in a post-ideological society. So, it only has and follows utilitarian and hedonistic motivations.

The Materiality and Welcoming Postmodernism

Perhaps, in the next century, world order and peace cannot be rebuilt; they are unwilling to resolve their conflicts without resorting to intensity. If only people would agree when the time had come, nations and people would not be silent. But, it could only continue the direct dialogue in various parts of the world. In addition to people continuing to heed the commemoration and totalitarian ideological criticism of Orwellian of 1984. The postmodernism era, in principle, in the present, still allows ideology to enter the bones of every individual. The actions of society no longer reflect their ideological beliefs, other than things become blurred. After all, extra-ideological mechanisms regulate social reproduction.

In the age of the internet and other advanced technological devices, dark domains, a kind of oversight, will constantly be monitored, speech is out of order, history is rewritten, and power will be removed and alienated from society. Absolute power is also starting to manifest in private companies where they control the online world, spending more time in the virtual dimension. Role by role, on the one hand, as a general, allows people to see the world. However, on the other hand, private companies with the condition of interest have many data. It can access users’ data at any time. In social media, propaganda such as Islamophobia, homophobia, radicalism in religion, anti-Semitism, and gender sensitivity, is produced endlessly. It celebrated like an open party, not filled with common layers of sense; the public space on social media is filled with fraud, cunning, consumptive, and nincompoop.


About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.


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