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Orwells 1984 An Imprint in the Modern World


Purely a dystopic oeuvre, 1984, written by George Orwell in 1948 and published in 1949, depicts a fictitious world, partitioned by three totalitarian superpowers. The narrative itself revolves around Winston Smith, an ordinary editor, who considers the existing state of things to bring no good to all people. Later, he learns that things are much worse than he could expect. The never-ending military clashes of one country with two others, the total intrusion of the government into the lives of ordinary people, and the giant image of Big Brother above this all make Orwells reflections of the possible outcomes of the Cold War a remarkable symbol of modern culture. The globality of this impact can be traced through times. Moreover, in many cases, from the banning of the book in the 20th century to the recent events in Turkey and the USA, one can observe stress the undoubted significance of Orwells novel in terms of culture.

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1984 and the Attempts of Banning

The totalitarian regime of the USSR had undoubtedly served as a model for the Orwells world of 1984. The author aimed to show the possible conditions of living in a world that reminded a gargantuan Soviet Union. Specifically, the books parallels appeared to resemble the existing political order of that time. The publication of the book surely could not avoid the censuring machine of such a repressive state as the USSR. This fact, enhanced by Orwells use of ideas that promoted civil disobedience concerning the governments attempts to control society and the skepticism towards the actions of the government, served as the ground for banning this book in the USSR.

The case of Soviet Union authorities attempts of banning 1984 tends to be one of the strictest countermeasures, used to stop the spreading of the books ideas. As Baldassarro wrote, the novel was banned in 1950, when the country was still under Stalins power, and its publication was finally allowed only in 1990, during the thaw period of Gorbachevs perestroika. Almost for 40 years, the possession of this book meant possible issues for its owner, and these issues often included an arrest. Such measures were applied mainly because of the cultural and structural problems, emphasized and hyperbolized by Orwells work. Naturally, the Soviets did everything possible to prevent such a dangerous literary piece from disclosing such problems, thereby augmenting the associations between the USSR and the world of 1984.

The other cases of banning are considered minor ones, if one compares them to the Soviets attitude towards this book. However, such incidences can be found even in the modern history of the USA. For instance, 1984 was labelled as the pro-Communist literature that contained sexual content of an explicit nature, so the book was challenged in Jackson County, Florida, in 1981. Another attempt of banning Orwells work occurred in Wrenshall, Minnesota, when the teacher of one of the local schools was fired due to his refusal to remove it from the list of works for reading. The latter case was unconfirmed officially, but it could be seen that the books influence on the audience faced some opposition in the country where the liberty of speech was protected by the First Amendment. Still, in the country that has claimed to follow the principles of democratic discourse, the echo of Orwells predictions can be heard even nowadays.

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1984 Parallels in Turkey

The series of events that occurred in Turkey a year ago, including an attempt of coup d?tat, left Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the state, with the latitude to impose repressions on the disobedient residents of the country. As a rule, these repressions concerned those whose stance did not match the overall policy of the government. Erdogan used this opportunity to silence Turkish dissenters who had expressed disagreement towards the actions of the ruling party. In doing so, the Turkish President employed, either deliberately or not, the brightest Orwellian examples of intra-national practices. These included a wide range of investigations, disciplinary measures, and detentions, applied to the civilians.

This line of political behavior closely connects the Turkish government with the political powers of 1984, willing to promote the only truth as the points, solely held by the Party. Umut Ozkirimli, professor of political science, argues about the similarity of Erdogans policy to the one described in Orwells novels. He draws an example of the Presidents use of a reference to Animal Farm, the allegorical fable, describing the realities of Soviet Union under the Stalins regime. This allusion sounds even eerier in terms of Erdogans attacks on the Turkish academics since ...had they read the book, they would have probably refrained from any references to it for fear of evoking parallels between Erdogans authoritarian New Turkey and the farm run by Orwells pigs. This situation concerned the petition, signed by 1,128 academicians, that pointed to the cases of human rights violation, committed by the Turkish state during the war against the Kurdistan Workers Party.

The public disclosure of the petition enraged Erdogan who decided to deal with the disobedient. In another speech, dedicated to this case, the head of the Turkish state called the signatories of petition pseudo-intellectuals engaged in terrorist propaganda. A series of disciplinary investigations and detentions followed immediately, while later, the coup attempt that occurred in the summer of 2016 allowed the government to launch the largest purge in history of the Turkish republic. Consequently, almost 100,000 state employees were dismissed from their jobs, including thousands of academicians. The Turkish case of the governmental policy, aimed at the oppression of scientific potential of the country, gives one clearly an Orwellian example of the double think. While labelling the signatories as terrorists, or people who had deliberately violated the rules of the others with the unlawful intentions, Erdogan, in his turn, carried the policy, aimed at entrenching on human rights both during the war with the Kurdistan forces and the purges that followed the failed coup attempt. The grotesqueness of the situation, in this case, is even enhanced by the Presidents references to Orwells ideas. The point of the double think use may be also related to the recent situation in the United States, namely the employment of Orwell-like term that even caused an increase in sales of 1984.

Trumps Government and the Newspeak

The period of Trumps presidency made many people consider drawing the parallels with the situation, depicted in the novel. The aggressive behavior of the newly elected President towards the countries that had not approved his line of policy seemed quite alarming for the circumspect ones. The possible division of the world into the rivaling blocks that threatened to become new Eastasias and Oceanias largely contributed to such parallels as well. Book markets even faced the increase in the sales of 1984. This new portion of Orwellian ambiance was felt in the country after a case with the member of the new United States government.

The point for Orwells work becoming a bestseller again could be found in the expression of Kellyanne Conway, Trumps senior advisor, uttered by her during one of the interviews. In view of this, Elizabeth Flock states: ...she used the term alternative facts in an interview Sunday, which British historian and Orwell biographer Peter Stansky said was a phrase that is very Orwellian, very Newspeak. Stansky, as Flock continues, also sees the echo of 1984s prophesies in the Trumps false claims on the inauguration crowd size and the voter fraud. The term of newspeak, a modified and simpler version of English, introduced by Orwell in his book, may be also applied to the manner of Trumps communicating or answering questions. This new language is mainly focus on the aim of obscuring reality, hiding things, and the avoidance of being specific.

The discussed increase in the novels sales is not the single-time phenomenon. Thus, such cases also occurred in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan took the presidential office and the date, mentioned by Orwell, was close. The same situation concerned Edward Snowdens revelations in 2013, when he disclosed the materials, confirming the extent of surveillance operations, performed by the US government. This case proved the link between the real world and the paradigm of 1984, where the state kept constant watch on its citizens to spot potential thought-crimes or rebellion. In general terms, Orwells main prediction about the ability of altering the past to control the present have already materialized with the rise of the Internet, where every bit of existing information can be changed or deleted.


In conclusion, it is possible to state that the level of Orwells impact on modern globalized culture cannot be underestimated. Moreover, the ideas of Orwell may still be paralleled with what the world experiences now. This fact can be proved by numerous attempts to censure or ban the novel in several countries and the existence of cases, conforming to Orwells concepts of double think and newspeak, as well as many others. In such a way, 1984, despite being utterly pessimistic and excessively straightforward, cannot be deprived of its visionary air. The discussed novel has left such a profound imprint in the culture of modern era that it can be felt even nowadays.

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