Totalitarianism or Communism, what did Nineteen Eighty-Four talk about?
1. Orwell Said It's Based on Communism
Many commentators and teachers introduce the book as a masterpiece to anti-totalitarianism. Some left-wing activists even think the book is a thought weapon to hit the right-wing policy and call their political opponents totalitarians. In recent decades, in some countries, like France and USA, many readers open the book not because of criticizing communism but of hating their own administration, so-called totalitarianism.
However, this is a book about communism, or say, a book to criticize communism. Orwell himself once wrote:Nineteen Eighty-Four was based chiefly on communism because that is the dominant form of totalitarianism, but I was trying chiefly to imagine what communism would be like if it were firmly rooted in English-speaking countries.
Western countries intentionally hide the book's backdrop of communism, whereas eastern countries forbid or cancel the book from public view. Although it is always on the top reading list, its readers more or less misunderstand the tremendous and serious book that thinks about how communism can change people and society.
A few commentators categorize the book as social science fiction. It's not correct. The book isn't to foresee the future but to describe the current. When it was published, USSR's communist regime was existing over thirty years.
2. Orwell Was the Origin to Fade Communism from the Book
Why do people avoid linking the book with communism? The answer is in the book: fear, fear due to communism. Because of fear, we are losing more and more freedom generation and generation.
For people in the book, freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. For people in reality, freedom is the freedom to say that 1984 is a novel about communism.
Unfortunately, Orwell was the first man to lose that freedom. Although he mentioned multiple times in letters or speeches the book was based on communism, he never used "communism" even once in the book; and just used "communist" twice. It is the main reason readers accept its replacement "totalitarianism."
In Orwell time, communism was a superpower. Lived in Britain, still he felt Big Brother was watching him from another country. We respect his writings and understand his trade-off. The freedom to criticize communism started to lessen from Britain, from 1948, and from Orwell.
Half a century is gone; more and more read it but less and less get it. Communism, Orwell hid reluctantly that year, is hidden deeper now. The trend is much beyond Orwell's image.
3. Things Are Becoming Worse
Now people need more courage to criticize communism than in Orwell time. It is still a superpower, changed from Eurasia to Eastasia. Big brother and his cousin are watching every corner of the globe.
People use "totalitarianism" to replace "communism" just like wizards used "you-know-who" to replace "Voldemort." Wizards feared the name because of weakness. Softening 1984 with "totalitarianism" has more complicated factors.
Some are because of evil. They live in free air but take communism as an alliance to fight against whatever they dislike or make money from communist countries. So they do their best to hide any ugly story about communism. The book is canceled in some areas and distorted in other places, even as a stone to smash law, order, and police, the latter are called "totalitarianism."
Some are because of the coward. They can feel the power of communism from every aspect. Like Orwell, they have to disguise themselves as neutral and not radical. "Totalitarianism" is an acceptable word having less offensive to communist regimes. When we see remarks and comments referred the book topic as totalitarianism, we should feel what Orwell and Winston felt. Communism is watching all.
However, most readers misunderstand the book because few people tell them the truth. It isn't social science fiction or anti-totalitarianism fable, but a book based on the freedomless life of the first communist country, the USSR. Currently, real communism isn't exactly the same as the description in 1984 and some scenarios in 1984 never happened or occurred in history too. However, a few flaws wouldn't shake its success to uncover the suffering under a communist regime.
To help students worldwide peep communism through the book, we will develop more questions and answers on the website.