The Role of History as a Political Mechanism for Social Control
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In both novels, Brave New World by Arthur Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell, the role of History is essential. History is an essential component to understand the present circumstances. The use of History is not to repeat mistakes from the past in the future.
History plays an important role in both novels, however they are handled differently.
In the Novel Brave New World by Arthur Miller, History is rejected and suppressed. One of the characters in the novel, the world state ruler Mustapha Mond says, “History is bunk”. He knows History well, to see the potential threat. No citizens in the Brave New World get in contact with History. The ideology of the Brave New World is to life timeless in the presence and after Mond’s view there should be no History.
Another essential factor for the banning of History in the Brave New World is that History is often regarded negatively, which would lead to unhappiness and violence. These are two major opposites of the ideology of the Brave New World. In the Brave New World, the idea of timeless and constant happiness is essential. Violence and anger do not exist. The fear of History insists in wars, worker riots and Revolutions. That is the reason, why during the most important process of development in the Brave New World, which is hypnopaedia, the inhabitants are not taught any History. In fact, the citizens are not aware of the existence of History. This essential power of History to influence people’s views and thoughts is the biggest threat to the Brave New World. The only people that know History are the world rulers, such as Mond. He took over the responsibility to build up the Brave New World after the Nine Year War, which destroyed the world. History leads to social instability. The idea of social instability only works without History. Another role of History is reflected in Orwell’s novel 1984.
In the Novel 1984 by George Orwell, History plays an important role. Oceania, one of three states in the world, possesses a Ministry for Truth. The main character Winston Smith is working there. His job is to change History. History is daily altered in 1984. The Ministry of Truth is the propaganda arm in Oceania. This process of alteration, which has a benefiting impact on the governments past promises is implemented numerously. A good example is that Oceania was at war with one of the three countries in 1984, and with the other in alliance. If that state changes, the History is altered immediately, so that it appears to be always the case. By altering the past, the truth automatically changes too. Additionally the true past is vanished and nobody will ever remember the true past. This idea is intensely reflected in the character of Winston. He wants to find out how the world must have looked like before the revolution and creation of the totalitarian state with its leader Big Brother. Unfortunately, he is unsuccessful, because the government “vaporizes” people that know the true past, or simply History.
The government uses History effectively so that their morale support by the citizens stays or even increases. The statement given in the Essay Question says, “He who controls the past controls the present .He who controls the present controls the future”, supports the idea of the benefiting government.
The past virtually looses its existence, which is O’Brien’s argument. He supports that with questions like, “Does the past exist concretely, in space?
Is there a somewhere or other place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?” Following that line of argument, he seems right to say that the past does not exist in another place where its still happening, but it exists in the place where the present happens as well as the past and the future. One could say that History is a record of an account of the past. It might be written down, in the mind of humans, but unfortunately, the party controls the peoples mind.
The manipulation of History has a benefiting impact on the governments’ actions. It is the idea that the government is always true and right. The aim is to keep the people happy with their government. There should only be one thought, the thought of the party. The possibility for the creation of revolutionary or rebel ideas does not exist because the party controls its people. If people are caught, thinking such ideas the commit Thought Crime. History has the potential to influence people to think these ideas, which are against the party. An other problem that occurs in 1984 is that History loses its origins or ideological use. History is used to explain certain political and social situations and circumstances, but not in 1984. Historical knowledge should prevent the repetition of mistakes from the past. In 1984, you cannot learn from History. History is an essential political and social mechanism for social control and stability.
In the Brave New World History is suppressed and rejected. History plays no role in the Brave New World, it is banned. Whereas in 1984 the true History is suppressed and rejected. The process of alteration allows the states to make History right according to the presence. The only people that are aware of the true History in 1984 are the workers in the Ministry of Truth, whereas in the Brave New World the citizens are not aware of the existence of History. Both dystopian ideologies, Brave New World and 1984, cannot tolerate the true History. Orwell in particular showed how essential altered History is for the maintenance of the populations’ morale values. Arthur Huxley showed in his novel, Brave New World, that History is potential to influence people to change their situation and circumstance. Through banning History, the theory of the past becomes non-existing.
In conclusion, I can say that these totalitarian states handle History in self-benefiting way.