Escape from Freedom vs. 1984 Essay
The Party seeks to control everything: past, present, and future, “who controls the past, controls the future, who controls the present controls the past” (page 37). This slogan, which is one the Party swears by, is an effort towards attaining the goal of controlling the memory of the individuals of Oceania. Without memory, the people cannot know the past and the Party can control history. By controlling the past, the Party also controls the present because the citizens of Oceania will accept everything the Party says.
In order to control the collective memory of the residents, the Party forbids its members to keep written records of their lives, and mandates that any photographs or documents be destroyed through “memory holes” (page 34) placed throughout Oceania. The fact that each individual has his or her own past makes them, them in the present. Without this past and memory of anything of their own past lives, it makes them like everyone else. Everyone has the same history, and everyone has the same present. The Party thus eliminates the idea of an individual mind.
The citizens of Oceania have a collective mind, with no individual thoughts. Fromm explains in Escape From Freedom, “Man’s nature, his passions, and anxieties are a cultural product; as a matter of fact man himself is the most important creation and achievement of the continuous human effort, the record of which we call history. ” (page 11) History is needed for individuals to be whom they were born as. It is part of human nature to be this way. With the elimination of history all of man’s effort does not exist.
In 1984, the Party and Big Brother had total control over the citizens of Oceania. The people worship Big Brother, and trust anything the Party says or does. Through manipulation and control, the Party gets into the minds of the people of Oceania. “Whatever the Party holds to be the truth is the truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. ” (page 261) The people of Oceania depend on the Party to guide them through life; they depend on the Party for everything. “Reality only exists in the human mind, nd nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal” (page 261) The “real” reality is only known by the Party and the only way for Oceania to discover the actual reality is through them. This control of the Party can be compared to Fromm’s theorem of “authoritarianism” (page 140), which is known as a mechanism of escape. “… people show a marked dependence on powers outside of themselves, on other people, or institutions, or nature.
They tend not to assert themselves, not to do what they want but to submit to the factual or alleged orders of these outside force” (page 141). With authoritarianism, people tend to depend on high powers outside of them. Some people of Oceania, including Winston, only wish for freedom: freedom from the Party, freedom from Big Brother, and freedom from control. However, those who wish and try to achieve freedom must suffer consequences. This consequence is known as Room 101. “’Room 101’ he said. There was a gasp and a flurry at Winston’s side…’You don’t have to take me to that place!… I’ll confess it” (page 248).
The Party uses physical torture to frighten people from wanting and desiring their freedom. Simply with Room 101, prisoners are willing to confess to anything. They are giving up their freedom to be individuals and have their own thoughts. Fromm explains in Escape From Freedom that the only way to achieve freedom is by “the abolition of external domination” (page 2). If external power is ceased, it would be necessary for individuals to attain their freedom, no matter what it is. If there is no Party or Big Brother, the citizens of Oceania would have the opportunity to have individual thoughts.
Winston longs for freedom of individuality. However, Big Brother and the Party prevent this freedom. They control and manipulate their society in order to repress individuality. The Party holds all the power and residents of Oceania must obey this power. Nevertheless, not only do the individuals obey this power but worship it as well. As well, residents do not even have control of their own past; it comes to the point where individuals have zero recollection of life before Big Brother. Oceania is held in the hands of Big Brother and the Party and it is nearly impossible to get out.