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When Are We Free?

  • Date Submitted: 05/19/2011 08:09 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54 
  • Words: 668
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“We are the dead.”   This is a repeating quote and theme of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, reflecting the stagnant, dull, and constricting world of the Orwellian dystopia.   This is quite an assumption, having many different values to those with different world-views.   As Plato said, “But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this?”   Which of these two characters has freedom?   The figurative dead or the literal dead?   When are we free, if we ever are truly free.

There is quite the dichotomy in the definition of freedom.   A perfect example would be the short poem, ‘The Prison Cell’ by Mahmud Darwish.   To summarize quickly, a prisoner uses his imagination to escape the tangible imprisonment.   The guard outside the door recognizes his own inability to do this and “was sad and he begs the prisoner to give the guard his freedom back.”   In a very blatant matter, role reversal occurs.   Encouraging the mind brings out the freedom in this humbled man.   The man in charge of removing freedom, removes his own.   Does following orders blindly as a guard constitute freedom, or simply guarantee the removal of concrete freedoms?   To quote the movie “Fight Club”, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”  

Intellectual autonomy is the key to true freedom.   The ability to recognize the force-feeding of doctrine and dogma separates the free from the enslaved.   In 1984, a point was made several times that the official language of Oceania, ‘Newspeak’ was the only language whose vocabulary decreased every year.   This was done in an attempt to limit thought; destroy the ability for critical thinking.   “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?”   By reducing the capacity for thought, freedoms are immediately reduced.   The ability to think of something something that doesn’t exist is a philosophical exercise with no...


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