A 1984 Nightmare during the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Essay by gricoteCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2013

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Utopian Ideals and Dystopian Disappointments

A 1984 Nightmare during the Chinese Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution in China was a political campaign launched by the Central Committee of the Communist Party on May 16, 1966. It was also the call for a massive purge of China's past and of all influences from abroad. Chinese society in this era reflects the one described in George Orwell's 1984. In both cases, the party in power blames its failures on past regimes or on enemy individuals, while at the same time the party making the people believe that it has brought upon a great amount of successes. Additionally, it targeted the family unit so that the party is more important in the people's minds. With the massive amount of propaganda featuring a charismatic leader as a symbol, children grow up as brainwashed fanatics of the party. In both cases, totalitarian rule and the party's firm grasp on their excessive power create a repressive social atmosphere.

Through the eyes of Winston Smith, the main character of 1984, George Orwell exposes an extremely dystopian nightmare that was meant as a warning for humanity. The frighteningly oppressive and overcontrolling characteristics that the party shows in 1984 are the same that the Chinese communist party adopted well after the publication of the book. There are both political and social similarities between the two societies. 1984 was actually banned in China and this highlights further the fear that it might inspire people to make the connections between their culture and the novel. The party's way of acting, as well as the manner in which people responded to totalitarian rule in 1984 Ingsoc society, later became a reality in China during the Cultural Revolution.

In both Chinese society during the Cultural Revolution as well as civilization in...