Maximilien Robespierre said, “the secret of tyranny is keeping them ignorant.” A tyrannical state blind their constituents with fake truths and a belief system they must conform to. limiting their individuality and consciousness in society. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, projects his horrifying visions on the future by depicting the dangers of an autocratic regime. The protagonist, Winston Smith hates the Party and its leader Big Brother who governs Oceania. Winston is determined to rebel and after trying to join the resistance movement known as the Brotherhood, he is captured and brainwashed into believing the Party’s ideology. The aim of the essay is to explore the mechanisms the Party exerts to keep its dictatorial reign intact. Through analyzing their techniques, Orwell communicates that the Party holds absolute power by ensuring that anyone who defies them is destined to fail.
Through advanced surveillance, the citizens of Oceania are carefully observed, restricting their ability to overthrow the governing force. The Party’s use of telescreens allows them to monitor their subjects’ behaviour. The presence of telescreens prevents the citizens from having privacy and freedom as any “dangerous thoughts.. could give you away.. and in any case, to wear an improper expression.. was itself a punishable offence” (Orwell 65). The telescreens serve as an effective surveillance network that acts to detect their actions as “there was no way of shutting it off” (Orwell 5). This method establishes their control and their success in easily disciplining their citizens. Orwell’s envisioned totalitarian state drew parallels to Jeremy Bentham’s proposed Panopticon; which is designed to keep a number of people under close inspection (Bentham 40). The method serves as “the perfect use of power because one does not need additional discipline, surveillance exerts control because people limit themselves” (Bentham and Big Brother: The Power of Surveillance in 1984). The technological surveillance instilled in Oceania effectively impedes one from rebelling as they are reminded that everything they say or do is being watched. There was “no way of knowing whether you were being watched” and therefore, citizens can be easily captured for their treacherous acts (Orwell 4). With their masterful surveillance, the Party makes it simply impossible for one to rebel without failing.
Surveillance is seen effectively in Oceania by employing children spies to observe their parent’s disloyal actions. This ensures that anyone who tries to rebel will fail as a result of the Party indoctrinating children in their society. At a young age, children are brainwashed and taught to prioritize the Party over their family members. The Party has changed the dynamics among families by “organizing Spies that would systematically turn into ungovernable little savages” (Orwell 24). The Party persistently intensifies their power by “producing children that have no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party” (Orwell 24). The Party instills fear by creating a society “for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children.” (Orwell 139). The Party has programmed children to observe their parents and confess to the Party if they were acting treacherously.