NEA - 1984 Marxist Perspective [HELP] Watch

Samee Aslam
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Hello all,

I have started reading the novel I am going to write a literary criticism about, the book is 1984.

Prior to reading the book, I was looking online for exempler responses to 1984 through Marxist lens but I was finding difficulties finding and even understanding what they mean. I know its stupid looking to find points about marxism within the novel before I have even read it, but I want to be fully prepared and aware of the elements of marxism that would come up through my reading

If anyone is able to assist me in my coursework, that would be great

Thanks
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Samee Aslam
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3pointonefour
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I read 1984 about a year ago - not for any analysis, but for my own enjoyment. I'll just recommend to read the book as it is and just pick out anything that seems noteworthy to you. Then when you're done, research all these notes for anything relevant.

1984 focuses mainly on totalitarianism and authoritarianism(?). I guess if you want to understand the Marxism present, just read up on Orwell beforehand.

PS: I'm not really in a position to give you advice about English Literature. So if it sounds dodgy, just dismiss
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by 3pointonefour)
I read 1984 about a year ago - not for any analysis, but for my own enjoyment. I'll just recommend to read the book as it is and just pick out anything that seems noteworthy to you. Then when you're done, research all these notes for anything relevant.

1984 focuses mainly on totalitarianism and authoritarianism(?). I guess if you want to understand the Marxism present, just read up on Orwell beforehand.

PS: I'm not really in a position to give you advice about English Literature. So if it sounds dodgy, just dismiss
I do believe there are many aspects of Marxism within the novel however, I think its best that I read it beforehand

Just wanted a heads up of what to notice and keep in mind while I read haha
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Samee Aslam
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If anyone still has any ideas, please let me know
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rockboy421
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It's not so much about an exploration of Marxism as it is a critique of Totalitarianism. It's important to know about Orwell in context for it. Orwell fought for the POUM in the Spanish Civil War and was a Socialist, but decried the fact that Stalin was becoming authoritarian in his methods. The fact that they have to go out of town for example to meet up, both in seperate ways is a critique of the police state, the fact that Winston works in editing documents to unperson people is a critique of how fast you could go, and the fact it happens to Winston shows this, but its also evident the party is inherently paranoid, for example when they arrest Winston's neighbour for doublethink despite his loyalty. Really whole book is a critique of the Stalinist Regime and the USSR. Big Brother himself if never proven to exist so its literally just one big personality cult, and the Thought Police are designed to represent the NKVD.

Anyway, that's just my thoughts its probably no use XD
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by rockboy421)
It's not so much about an exploration of Marxism as it is a critique of Totalitarianism. It's important to know about Orwell in context for it. Orwell fought for the POUM in the Spanish Civil War and was a Socialist, but decried the fact that Stalin was becoming authoritarian in his methods. The fact that they have to go out of town for example to meet up, both in seperate ways is a critique of the police state, the fact that Winston works in editing documents to unperson people is a critique of how fast you could go, and the fact it happens to Winston shows this, but its also evident the party is inherently paranoid, for example when they arrest Winston's neighbour for doublethink despite his loyalty. Really whole book is a critique of the Stalinist Regime and the USSR. Big Brother himself if never proven to exist so its literally just one big personality cult, and the Thought Police are designed to represent the NKVD.

Anyway, that's just my thoughts its probably no use XD
No thats really good. However, just from reading the first chapter, I can see that there are elements of marxism. The fact that Big brother is painted on every wall and the fact that it is watching everyone shows a sense of oppression and control from the government.

Yes, the novel critiques many aspects of Totalitarianism is in itself, interlinked with Marxism IMO
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Samee Aslam
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Does anyone have a good question I could use for my coursework for marxism in 1984?
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chaotic1328
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(Original post by Samee Aslam)
No thats really good. However, just from reading the first chapter, I can see that there are elements of marxism. The fact that Big brother is painted on every wall and the fact that it is watching everyone shows a sense of oppression and control from the government.
Surely state oppression and control are features of Totalitarianism, not Marxism? Why do you think that they interlink with Marxism?

Marx laid out a very general outline of the utopia that he thinks will inevitably arise as a result of economic forces. His notion of historical determinism states that society will progress in this order due to the advance in productivity: Slavery-Feudalism-Capitalism-Socialism-Communism). He did not have any road-maps how to get there. The party being the 'vanguard' of the proletariat to overcome 'false consciousness' was not a Marxian, but a Leninist notion.

Given that the Marxian utopia is about freedom from both political and economic suppression, and that each should give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs, it'd be hard to link Marxism with totalitarianism on a theoretical basis. That said, almost all purportedly 'Marxist' regimes do tend to be totalitarian, or at best, authoritarian, it's an easy, but nevertheless wrong, connection to make.
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
Surely state oppression and control are features of Totalitarianism, not Marxism? Why do you think that they interlink with Marxism?

Marx laid out a very general outline of the utopia that he thinks will inevitably arise as a result of economic forces. His notion of historical determinism states that society will progress in this order due to the advance in productivity: Slavery-Feudalism-Capitalism-Socialism-Communism). He did not have any road-maps how to get there. The party being the 'vanguard' of the proletariat to overcome 'false consciousness' was not a Marxian, but a Leninist notion.

Given that the Marxian utopia is about freedom from both political and economic suppression, and that each should give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs, it'd be hard to link Marxism with totalitarianism on a theoretical basis. That said, almost all purportedly 'Marxist' regimes do tend to be totalitarian, or at best, authoritarian, it's an easy, but nevertheless wrong, connection to make.
False consciousness is part of the Marxism theory. Do you recommend any novels that fit well with marxist criticism?
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chaotic1328
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(Original post by Samee Aslam)
False consciousness is part of the Marxism theory. Do you recommend any novels that fit well with marxist criticism?
False consciousness is indeed a Marxian notion, but the party being the vanguard of the revolution is very much a Leninist concept.

Off hand, I can't think of any novels that critique Marxism, but I am sure that would be plenty. My subject is in politics rather than literature, some of Orwell's essays do touch on the subject though. Google might be your best friend here (or just ask your lecturer/teacher).
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Quirky Object
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
Surely state oppression and control are features of Totalitarianism, not Marxism? Why do you think that they interlink with Marxism?

Marx laid out a very general outline of the utopia that he thinks will inevitably arise as a result of economic forces. His notion of historical determinism states that society will progress in this order due to the advance in productivity: Slavery-Feudalism-Capitalism-Socialism-Communism). He did not have any road-maps how to get there. The party being the 'vanguard' of the proletariat to overcome 'false consciousness' was not a Marxian, but a Leninist notion.

Given that the Marxian utopia is about freedom from both political and economic suppression, and that each should give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs, it'd be hard to link Marxism with totalitarianism on a theoretical basis. That said, almost all purportedly 'Marxist' regimes do tend to be totalitarian, or at best, authoritarian, it's an easy, but nevertheless wrong, connection to make.
I might be misinterpreting you here, but historical determinism doesn't imply that the 'determined' events will unfold without any revolutionary action. Marx firmly believed that a dictatorship of the proletariat needed to be established in order for private property to be abolished and for the socioeconomic conditions necessitating the existence of a state to die out gradually. This is the idea he set forth in Critique of the Gotha Programme and Lenin elaborated on in State and Revolution. The establishment of proletarian class rule, a cornerstone of Marxism, is the step which can readily degenerate into a situation like what Orwell criticised in the USSR. It's totally fine to discuss Leninist ideas in this essay anyway; Marxism isn't limited to Marx. I wouldn't use the word 'totalitarian', though, since it's kind of vague (totalitarian rule by the proletariat would be desirable to Marxists, but the problem with the USSR was that the proletariat was not the ruling class).

(Original post by Samee Aslam)
No thats really good. However, just from reading the first chapter, I can see that there are elements of marxism. The fact that Big brother is painted on every wall and the fact that it is watching everyone shows a sense of oppression and control from the government.

Yes, the novel critiques many aspects of Totalitarianism is in itself, interlinked with Marxism IMO
I'd be careful there; this 'totalitarianism' (see my note above about the word totalitarian) is a feature of Marxism gone wrong, not Marxism proper (according to Orwell) and Orwell was criticising how the Soviet Union ultimately did a disservice to Marxism by developing into a state which oppressed the very proletarians who were supposed to be ruling it. Your essay needs to discuss Airstrip One as a criticism of Marxism-gone-wrong, not of Marxism.

I think it would be interesting to pick up on links to Trotskyism in 1984; Goldstein resembles Trotsky and The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism is a reference to the bureaucratic collectivism of Shachtman, a 'third-camp' Trotskyist. It might be nice to link that into context involving Orwell and the POUM, since the POUM was often denounced as a Trotskyist group.
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chaotic1328
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(Original post by Sonechka)
I might be misinterpreting you here, but historical determinism doesn't imply that the 'determined' events will unfold without any revolutionary action. Marx firmly believed that a dictatorship of the proletariat needed to be established in order for private property to be abolished and for the socioeconomic conditions necessitating the existence of a state to die out gradually. This is the idea he set forth in Critique of the Gotha Programme and Lenin elaborated on in State and Revolution. The establishment of proletarian class rule, a cornerstone of Marxism, is the step which can readily degenerate into a situation like what Orwell criticised in the USSR. It's totally fine to discuss Leninist ideas in this essay anyway; Marxism isn't limited to Marx. I wouldn't use the word 'totalitarian', though, since it's kind of vague (totalitarian rule by the proletariat would be desirable to Marxists, but the problem with the USSR was that the proletariat was not the ruling class).



I'd be careful there; this 'totalitarianism' (see my note above about the word totalitarian) is a feature of Marxism gone wrong, not Marxism proper (according to Orwell) and Orwell was criticising how the Soviet Union ultimately did a disservice to Marxism by developing into a state which oppressed the very proletarians who were supposed to be ruling it. Your essay needs to discuss Airstrip One as a criticism of Marxism-gone-wrong, not of Marxism.
Thank you for clearing up some of the details. My main point was that Marx had no clear road map to achieve his utopia, and it was up to later actors to come up with some the means to do so. Also, after the establishment of a socialist state, the first step towards communism, all would be classed as 'proletariat'; and therefore the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' might be somewhat confusing to some.

Marxian ideals are primarily about the abolition of exploitation and freedom from economic and political oppression. Hence, anything that deviates from these ideals cannot be 'Marxism' by definition.
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by Sonechka)
I might be misinterpreting you here, but historical determinism doesn't imply that the 'determined' events will unfold without any revolutionary action. Marx firmly believed that a dictatorship of the proletariat needed to be established in order for private property to be abolished and for the socioeconomic conditions necessitating the existence of a state to die out gradually. This is the idea he set forth in Critique of the Gotha Programme and Lenin elaborated on in State and Revolution. The establishment of proletarian class rule, a cornerstone of Marxism, is the step which can readily degenerate into a situation like what Orwell criticised in the USSR. It's totally fine to discuss Leninist ideas in this essay anyway; Marxism isn't limited to Marx. I wouldn't use the word 'totalitarian', though, since it's kind of vague (totalitarian rule by the proletariat would be desirable to Marxists, but the problem with the USSR was that the proletariat was not the ruling class).




I'd be careful there; this 'totalitarianism' (see my note above about the word totalitarian) is a feature of Marxism gone wrong, not Marxism proper (according to Orwell) and Orwell was criticising how the Soviet Union ultimately did a disservice to Marxism by developing into a state which oppressed the very proletarians who were supposed to be ruling it. Your essay needs to discuss Airstrip One as a criticism of Marxism-gone-wrong, not of Marxism.

I think it would be interesting to pick up on links to Trotskyism in 1984; Goldstein resembles Trotsky and The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism is a reference to the bureaucratic collectivism of Shachtman, a 'third-camp' Trotskyist. It might be nice to link that into context involving Orwell and the POUM, since the POUM was often denounced as a Trotskyist group.
(Original post by chaotic1328)
Thank you for clearing up some of the details. My main point was that Marx had no clear road map to achieve his utopia, and it was up to later actors to come up with some the means to do so. Also, after the establishment of a socialist state, the first step towards communism, all would be classed as 'proletariat'; and therefore the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' might be somewhat confusing to some.

Marxian ideals are primarily about the abolition of exploitation and freedom from economic and political oppression. Hence, anything that deviates from these ideals cannot be 'Marxism' by definition.
Thank you both for the help. Do you by any chance know any good contemporary novels where you can write many things through a marxist perspective?
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
Thank you for clearing up some of the details. My main point was that Marx had no clear road map to achieve his utopia, and it was up to later actors to come up with some the means to do so. Also, after the establishment of a socialist state, the first step towards communism, all would be classed as 'proletariat'; and therefore the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' might be somewhat confusing to some.

Marxian ideals are primarily about the abolition of exploitation and freedom from economic and political oppression. Hence, anything that deviates from these ideals cannot be 'Marxism' by definition.
(Original post by Sonechka)
I might be misinterpreting you here, but historical determinism doesn't imply that the 'determined' events will unfold without any revolutionary action. Marx firmly believed that a dictatorship of the proletariat needed to be established in order for private property to be abolished and for the socioeconomic conditions necessitating the existence of a state to die out gradually. This is the idea he set forth in Critique of the Gotha Programme and Lenin elaborated on in State and Revolution. The establishment of proletarian class rule, a cornerstone of Marxism, is the step which can readily degenerate into a situation like what Orwell criticised in the USSR. It's totally fine to discuss Leninist ideas in this essay anyway; Marxism isn't limited to Marx. I wouldn't use the word 'totalitarian', though, since it's kind of vague (totalitarian rule by the proletariat would be desirable to Marxists, but the problem with the USSR was that the proletariat was not the ruling class).



I'd be careful there; this 'totalitarianism' (see my note above about the word totalitarian) is a feature of Marxism gone wrong, not Marxism proper (according to Orwell) and Orwell was criticising how the Soviet Union ultimately did a disservice to Marxism by developing into a state which oppressed the very proletarians who were supposed to be ruling it. Your essay needs to discuss Airstrip One as a criticism of Marxism-gone-wrong, not of Marxism.

I think it would be interesting to pick up on links to Trotskyism in 1984; Goldstein resembles Trotsky and The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism is a reference to the bureaucratic collectivism of Shachtman, a 'third-camp' Trotskyist. It might be nice to link that into context involving Orwell and the POUM, since the POUM was often denounced as a Trotskyist group.
So are you telling me that there is nothing about marxism I can write about?
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Samee Aslam
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Any suggestions of a question that I can use for this literary criticism?
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Quirky Object
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
Thank you for clearing up some of the details. My main point was that Marx had no clear road map to achieve his utopia, and it was up to later actors to come up with some the means to do so. Also, after the establishment of a socialist state, the first step towards communism, all would be classed as 'proletariat'; and therefore the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' might be somewhat confusing to some.

Marxian ideals are primarily about the abolition of exploitation and freedom from economic and political oppression. Hence, anything that deviates from these ideals cannot be 'Marxism' by definition.
Yeah, that's true. Well I suppose immediately after a proletarian revolution, the suppressed (former) bourgeoisie are the lower class and the early dotp is a dictatorship over tat class. Yes, but it's fair to say that the Soviet Union was established with Marxist ideals in mind and then degenerated for whatever reason (I sound like a Trotskyist using the word 'degenerated' lmao).

(Original post by Samee Aslam)
So are you telling me that there is nothing about marxism I can write about?
Not at all, I was just saying you have to describe the Soviet Union, which Airstrip One is based on, as Marxism-gone-wrong (for whatever reason) rather than an actual communist society. Autocracies don't inherently have anything in common with Marxism, unless they are genuinely ruled by the working class.
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Samee Aslam
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(Original post by Sonechka)
Yeah, that's true. Well I suppose immediately after a proletarian revolution, the suppressed (former) bourgeoisie are the lower class and the early dotp is a dictatorship over tat class. Yes, but it's fair to say that the Soviet Union was established with Marxist ideals in mind and then degenerated for whatever reason (I sound like a Trotskyist using the word 'degenerated' lmao).



Not at all, I was just saying you have to describe the Soviet Union, which Airstrip One is based on, as Marxism-gone-wrong (for whatever reason) rather than an actual communist society. Autocracies don't inherently have anything in common with Marxism, unless they are genuinely ruled by the working class.
Do you propose an example question in regards to writing a marxist criticism? (eg. Winston is oppressed within the government. To what extent do you agree in a marxist perspective? - Something like that IDK)
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chaotic1328
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(Original post by Samee Aslam)
Do you propose an example question in regards to writing a marxist criticism? (eg. Winston is oppressed within the government. To what extent do you agree in a marxist perspective? - Something like that IDK)
I think you might want to 'critique' Marxism rather than 'criticise'. Critique in this context would mean to engage in an open-ended debate, rather than to simply criticise. You could try conducting an immanent critique of Airstrip One (AKA the Soviet Union), and explore any contradictions between the practices and the ideology that these practices are based on.
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Samee Aslam
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Can someone please help me with writing up my essay? I have started the essay but I need help developing my points
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