In 1984, George Orwell depicted the way a society should not be, based on the atrocities that had happened during the Second World War and his predictions of the future. This book has influenced my perspective of current events and has helped me understand better the militarism of this century.
One of the slogans of the ruling political party was "War is peace." Even though this statement seems paradoxical at first, it offers insight about how our world is starting to function as predicted by the author. In the novel, the main purpose of being constantly at war was to reduce the surplus of goods and to control the society. In addition, the fighting took place far away from their territory, it was fought by specialists, and no big territorial gains or losses took place. Moreover, the enemy was not defined very well and was constantly changing depending on Oceania’s interests; Eurasia and Eastasia were changing roles continuously as allies and enemies. According to Winston, nothing was efficient in Oceania, except the Thought Police, efficiency that shows the importance that this society accorded to preventing revolutions. Another example of this society''s militarism can be found in the movie houses, with their excess of war films. Finally, the war was an argument used to unify the people against an external force, diverting the attention from internal problems, and preventing a revolution.
In modern times, war has created a constant state of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Many political leaders believing that being in war with an outer force will bring "peace" at home. For example, the current administration of Bush declared war on terrorism, an abstract force that, according to the United States, can be found in more than sixty countries. This war has similar principles to those illustrated in 1984’s society; there are no territorial gains or losses, it is mainly fought by specialists, and very far away from the United States territory. Recently, Iraq was attacked under the pretext that a dictatorship was being removed and peace would be restored. Paradoxically, Iraq was being helped by the United States during the First Persian Gulf War to defeat Iran. By declaring war against an outside force, the government was able to entertain the society temporarily from its own internal problems, such as an economic recession.
Allegedly, the war has united the citizens with one goal in purpose, propelled by patriotism. However, the media is being controlled by a government that controls what can be published. To a lesser extent, the government has the power to control the present as it can control how previous situations are presented, as in the Record’s Department in Oceania, Bush’s administration has also established an "Office of Homeland Security" and has limited civil liberties through the "Patriot Acts." Because of the war, the government has the excuse to go unchecked, the same way that 1984’s government functioned as a dictatorship. As in Oceania, the government has now the power to arrest somebody without having a trial.
1984 helped me realize how current militaristic policies were foreseen, and therefore, could have been prevented. Many times, we have heard how Iraq’s war was only about oil. Unfortunately, not many people have thought that the war could be a tool to divert the current public interest from the economy, and other factors, towards terrorism. In addition, I had not realized the importance of handling the surplus of goods generated by a society, especially to the point where it is necessary to go to war in order to get rid of it. Because of the universality of the novel, we are able to understand it even 19 years after "Big Brother" was supposed to rule Oceania.