Ignorance Is Strength Essays

War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength

2328 WordsMar 29th, 201010 Pages

1984 For as long as governments have existed, the people they ruled feared them. This fear and the desire to improve these governments have let to countless different attempts to perfect government. From the most liberal democracy to the most crushing dictatorship, governments have all faced some shortcomings. Because of the faults inherent in all governments, various types of governance have been the topic for many authors. The late novelist Ayn Rand wrote many books on the trouble that a socialist government could bring and espoused the virtue of individualism. She felt that by allowing government to limit our individual freedoms, we were sentencing ourselves to a certain death. She wrote that “We are fast approaching the…show more content…

Another dominant example of irony is the Party’s slogan: “WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (Orwell 17). The slogan is an example of superficial verbal irony. However, upon closer examination, it sheds more light on Orwell’s intent. By stating that “war is peace”, Orwell sends distinct messages to two vastly different groups. To the proles, the commoners, “war is peace” can be read at its most literal meaning, that there can one day be peace by defeating the enemy and securing victory. Despite the simple understanding the proles have of the slogan, those in the Inner Party, the group of people in charge of Oceania, have a much more devious understanding of it. To them, the slogan represents the shell game that they play with the common citizen. Much like the street gambler taking bets on which shell the rock is under, the Inner Party assures that the citizenry is focused on whatever country Oceania is fighting, rather than on the leaders of the country. This claim is further supported on page 161 where Orwell describes the futility of the wars that are being fought. “None of the three superstates ever attempts any maneuver which involves the risk of serious defeat” (Orwell 161). Rather than try to end the wars, they continue fighting to keep the minds of the working class occupied with hate. The leaders in 1984 saw that it was not advantageous to advocate a strict moral

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If you have read the book 1984 by George Orwell you have read the phrase “ignorance is strength.” What does that phrase mean and why did George Orwell include it in the INGSOC motto?

1984 is classified as a science fiction novel, but it’s in the realm of “fiction that could happen.” Just like hundreds of years ago when thinkers theorized about “metal birds” that people could fly in, 1984 is one of those “what ifs” that may later turn into everyday life.

Unless you have been “blind and deaf” to the media over the past, let’s say, four years or so, you will have noticed some amazing similarities in practices of governments now compared to INGSOC. The motto of INGSOC was, “war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” Ignorance is strength is the part I want to focus on here.

In 1984 the citizens of that bleak alternative past were clueless, Jessica Simpson and “chicken of the sea” clueless. They talked in abbreviations. Double Plus Good.  They didn’t know anything about the workings of the government. They didn’t know anything about the “proles” except rumors that the government had started. They believed every false word. People were made to not exist if their views differed from what the government wanted. The less the average person knew about what was going on the “stronger” his or her position would be in society.

Concerning abbreviations, don’t we do that now? LOL, ROFL, LMAO, BRB, BFF, JK, and IDK have all infiltrated the English language not only in texting but in everyday language. The use of this language is encouraged. How many commercials have you seen where the characters use these abbreviations? Or maybe cartoons?

The great thing about knowing a language is that it allows you to express yourself and think. If I wanted to say, “I think that the colors on the duvet clash and it’s of poor quality,” but I didn’t know about the words “duvet, quality, poor, or clash,” I would end up with something like, “I think the colors.” That is far from what I originally wanted to express.  It’s a shadow of the original thought that I possessed. If I didn’t know the words mentioned it would be hard for me to even think the thought. I might have the impression of “I think that the colors on the duvet clash and the quality is poor,” but I wouldn’t know how to express it, I couldn’t even come close. That was the point of the ignorance in 1984. If a person had a subversive thought about the “wonderful” Big Brother, they couldn’t express it because their language was so degraded.

Language sets us apart from animals. Language gives us a new level of civilization. Many will recall the case of Koko the gorilla. Most of the time gorillas are seen as smart animals being in the primate family, but uncivilized and not capable of much thought, but it turns out when given language they are indeed capable of a higher level of civilization. Koko learned sign language. She could communicate her thoughts and needs to the humans around her who knew sign language. She wasn’t simply “parroting” language like a parrot, but was expressing her own thoughts. If our language was taken away, how would we act, how would we speak, and how would we interact with one another?

The citizens in 1984 didn’t know anything about how the government worked. They only saw the pictures of Big Brother and heard the Big Brother propaganda. They didn’t know the inner workings of the party; they didn’t even know what each other’s jobs were. As Winston thinks in the story he doesn’t know if anyone else has the same job as him or not or if multiple people were assigned the same project. Do we know how our government works? You may know that you have senators and representatives, that there is a legislative branch, a judiciary branch, and the executive branch and that you can vote for the president, but what else do you know?

I can assure you that the average American doesn’t know much beyond that. How much money is spent on defense and who approves that money? What is the process by which budgets are approved? Who gets to decide what and when? What do all those bills constantly being passed actually say and approve? Many Americans thought that the health care bill recently passed would give them free healthcare. That is not the case. When reading individual sections of the health care bill there are some scary items placed within it, items that sound like something out of a science fiction novel. Did you know that yes you can vote for the president, but then there is the whole process of the Electoral College? Your electorate will, 98% of the time, vote true to the majority of what constituents have voted, but there have been cases of “an unfaithful electorate.” That means that the electorate voted for the other guy and basically disregarded the votes of the constituents in his area. So yes there are inner workings of the government that most people know nothing about.

In 1984 there was a class of people called the “proles.” These people were the workers, the lowest of the low. They were slandered by Big Brother. They were set apart as uneducated and uncivilized. Members of the party were taught to look down on them and not to associate with them, all due to propaganda created by the government.  Do we not get taught to look down on people today? Think back approximately nine years ago. We were taught to look down on a group of people. Who was that group of people? That group included Muslims and anyone of middle-eastern descent. Families were chased out of their homes. Legal American citizens were cussed at, beaten, and discriminated against. They still are.  People of middle-eastern descent are stopped in airports and other places to have additional security scanning.  The media feeds us stories about how Muslims and people of middle-eastern descent are so terrible.  I don’t think I have ever heard one good thing from the news about someone from the Middle East. The only good things I have ever heard about middle easterners came from books I have read.

How apt are you to believe anything coming from someone in authority? Take the FDA for example. Food safety is a good thing. We don’t want salmonella tainted peanut butter on our grocery store shelves. We don’t want E-coli tainted meat in our happy meals. We don’t want beef tainted with mad cow disease. So we let the FDA say what is safe and what is not, but is the FDA always right? No, the FDA is not always right and many times appears to make decisions to cater to big food and big pharmacy versus decisions to help out American citizens, but many citizens never question the FDA’s decisions.  A recent example is the banning of a well-known homeopathic teething remedy for babies. The remedy was used for years and a trusted product, but then the FDA decided that for some reason it wasn’t safe, but users of the product would beg to differ.

Does our government make people not exist if their views differ? I don’t know. I have never had a neighbor who was there, but then was not. I have heard from alternative media sources that there are some “bad guys” who appear, then disappear and die several times, according to the media, but I can’t say if that is actually true or not. I do know that people who have differing opinions about the way things work are marginalized in society. That is sort of a non-existence, especially if said individual was an expert in their field and as a result of their opinions is now un-employed. One example I saw in a documentary was a researcher who was considered one of the best. She was asked to research fluoride. Her findings were not good and she went public with them. She is now unemployed and will never be employed by anyone in her field again. She was marginalized in her own field.

So does the less we know mean we have a better standing in our society? Yes is the short answer.  The long answer involves a little more exploration.  If you fit into the box your life goes fine. The temperature in your pot is slowly raised and you don’t even notice. Knowledge is indeed power, as juvenile and corny as the phrase sounds, it’s true. The more you know about the world around you, the more power you have to lead your own life.  Too many people believe the world is just fine, but those people get along just fine. Their attitude and lack of knowledge is rewarded in our society, not just in the USA, but in other countries as well.  There are people who are literally scared that you are going to learn. We want to learn right? The habit of learning is looked down upon. How many times have you seen a television show where one of the characters is a really smart guy? He knows all kinds of things, but all the other characters treat him as a pariah. They call him a geek and a nerd.

When you hear someone talk about something you don’t understand are you guilty of tuning them out, telling yourself that you don’t understand, versus listening and trying to understand what they are talking about? I can guarantee you that you have done this before. People literally joke about how bad they are at math or science. Should we be doing that? If you don’t know how to add fractions, it’s a loss for you, but that behavior is rewarded. If you’re in a group of friends and say you don’t understand algebra they all say, “me neither” and you guys have a good laugh, then you go and get Big Macs. If you say instead of “I don’t understand algebra,” but you say, “Sure I understand algebra, it’s all about solving for a variable. It’s math to figure out an unknown, for example if you want to know how long it will take you to get to the bank if you drive seventy miles a hour and you’re fifteen miles away because it closes in thirty minutes and the mortgage payment is due tomorrow and there is no money in the bank to write a check, you can use algebra.” Those friends are going to say, “Riiiiiiiighhhttttt,” roll their eyes and then say, “Well see you later!” They’re not going to say, “oh that is so interesting,” or,” oh that is so helpful, I always miss the bank by two minutes.” It is socially acceptable to not know how to do things.

I know many of my friends are involved with the military. The military is an organization where it is acceptable to be ignorant and to keep others in the dark. What time was that training again? We’re not sure. So what is the military policy for XYZ? Go ask so-and-so.  If for example you find out that you can use a special request to accomplish some goal that generally doesn’t happen, things become hard for you. Questions of, “Why are you requesting this chit?” are fielded your way. Commanding officers don’t want to cooperate. You found a loophole. Loopholes make more work because A) people can be lazy, B) it’s the military and almost everything is inefficient, and C) those commanding officers didn’t know that loophole existed and as a result they feel inferior. They got promoted because they fit into the military box. They may not actually know anything about what is going on around them, but if you’re less in rank than them you still have to defer to them.  Did you know that there is actually a way to get a religious exemption concerning military vaccinations? There is, but you will be told there is not because your healthcare providers and your commanding officers don’t know it exists.

So without being even more long-winded than I have been, yes the phrase “ignorance is strength” can be applied to our society. If you don’t believe me go and do research on something you generally wouldn’t even think about like additional side effects for a medication you’re taking(I’m talking in addition to what is listed on the insert), then during your next DR.’s appointment bring up your concerns. You will be talked down to and your concerns will be shrugged off.  Maybe because the Dr is busy, maybe because he or she doesn’t care, or maybe because he or she is ignorant of the possibly life-threatening concerns.  At the very least your Dr.’s appointment is going to take longer and maybe some blood tests will be ordered to placate you. While you’re waiting on your blood tests your Dr. has already seen four patients, maybe taking the same medication, who bring up no concerns.  They are rewarded with a short Dr.’s visit and refilled prescription.  Even if you found some awful side effect to your medication you didn’t realize you were experiencing before and your Dr. agrees, do you think he or she will quit prescribing that medication to other similar patients? Probably not.

The next time you admit to yourself that you don’t know how to do something; maybe you should stop and think about why you don’t know how to do that thing. If it’s a simple reason, then change your tune and learn what you were lacking. We are never too old to learn, and yes, I will say it again, “Knowledge is power.”

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Published by Ashe

I always said my dream job would be to get paid for sitting in a corner and drawing all day long. Now, I have to ammend that idea of my dream job. I think I would like to sit in a corner and be able to get paid for drawing and writing. View all posts by Ashe

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