God as Big Brother
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08-11-2013, 02:26 PM
God as Big Brother
I recently finished reading 1984 and this connection came to my mind just now (although I'm pretty sure it's nothing original or surprising).

God as the all-powerful, all-knowing, loving savior. He is everywhere, he is watching you and he can tell what's in your head.
It's not only what you do, but also what you think that can give you away.
You have to love him as he loves you of course, because he provides you with everything you need. Sex is forbidden (but it's your duty to use it to produce offspring), pleasure is forbidden, even feelings are forbidden, unless they're pure love for Him.

If he says that there was a global flood, that a virgin gave birth to his son, that snakes talk or that 2+2=5, you must believe it. If he changes history, you have to accept that history was always this way and has never changed.

However, no one knows if he exists. No one ever sees him, apart from his pictures, and he seems to be eternal and immortal. He only has people working in his name who transfer his messages to the common people. In case you dare to do wrong, he has his own special team that is always there to intervene and lead you to the right path again.

He claims to represent love and peace, but he manages to use that to create the exact opposite. In his name, people justify anything. He also makes sure to construct invisible, mysterious enemies who may or may not actually exist (demons, evil spirits) and cultivates a deep hate for them in order to make his own love seem unmatched.

He demands obedience and promises peace. Even though there's no peace to be found, people still believe that it will come, as long as they believe, as long as they are obedient. He is credited with everything good that happens, while everything negative is always an act of the evil "enemy".

Well, I'm pretty sure Orwell didn't have all that in mind, but I'm even more impressed by the book after realizing this. Any other common qualities between Big Brother and God that I missed? Any differences?

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
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08-11-2013, 02:44 PM
RE: God as Big Brother
(08-11-2013 02:26 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I recently finished reading 1984 and this connection came to my mind just now (although I'm pretty sure it's nothing original or surprising).

God as the all-powerful, all-knowing, loving savior. He is everywhere, he is watching you and he can tell what's in your head.
It's not only what you do, but also what you think that can give you away.
You have to love him as he loves you of course, because he provides you with everything you need. Sex is forbidden (but it's your duty to use it to produce offspring), pleasure is forbidden, even feelings are forbidden, unless they're pure love for Him.

If he says that there was a global flood, that a virgin gave birth to his son, that snakes talk or that 2+2=5, you must believe it. If he changes history, you have to accept that history was always this way and has never changed.

However, no one knows if he exists. No one ever sees him, apart from his pictures, and he seems to be eternal and immortal. He only has people working in his name who transfer his messages to the common people. In case you dare to do wrong, he has his own special team that is always there to intervene and lead you to the right path again.

He claims to represent love and peace, but he manages to use that to create the exact opposite. In his name, people justify anything. He also makes sure to construct invisible, mysterious enemies who may or may not actually exist (demons, evil spirits) and cultivates a deep hate for them in order to make his own love seem unmatched.

He demands obedience and promises peace. Even though there's no peace to be found, people still believe that it will come, as long as they believe, as long as they are obedient. He is credited with everything good that happens, while everything negative is always an act of the evil "enemy".

Well, I'm pretty sure Orwell didn't have all that in mind, but I'm even more impressed by the book after realizing this. Any other common qualities between Big Brother and God that I missed? Any differences?
Great thinking! Thumbsup

He really could have meant it in much the way you are describing. In the story, the 'hero'(or savior), is Emmanuel Goldstein. Emmanuel is a name to describe jesus in the new testament. Goldstein supposedly wrote a book, and his follower ardently follow this book. Goldstein is never seen in a physical form(other than the tv screen). Goldstein may have just been a tale made up by the ministry of truth as a way to control the citizens. Huh
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08-11-2013, 03:25 PM
RE: God as Big Brother



But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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08-11-2013, 05:09 PM (This post was last modified: 08-11-2013 11:03 PM by PoolBoyG.)
RE: God as Big Brother
Now that you mention it, the book could have been that much better if the "God(s)" allegory was intended.

That the agents of "Big Brother" weren't actually the agents, but a spontaneous collection of officials and other believers of a "Big Brother". They believe there's a Big Brother, and if they do its "bidding", then they'll be rewarded later, or the reward is simply that they won't be punished, or they really believe Big Brother is the most rational and ethical system there is.

So one of the conclusions is that there might not be a Big Brother at all. People are just perpetuating it.. just in case the belief is real, or because they truly believe it. And it's hard for segments of the population to rebel, because it's so well institutionalized, and reinforced by the time the story takes place. The entire "Big Brother" religion was a snowball that kept gaining strength and power. And will continue until it hits something of equal power to break it. Which is now impossible since it's world wide. Oh well, someone else can write it.
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08-11-2013, 09:26 PM
RE: God as Big Brother
(08-11-2013 03:25 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  


Fraking Golden !!

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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08-11-2013, 09:39 PM
RE: God as Big Brother
(08-11-2013 05:09 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Now that you mention it, the book could have been that much better if the "God(s)" allegory was intended.
...

What makes you think it wasn't?

Either way it does not matter as we can make our own analogies.

undergroundp,
You are in good company in making the connection between totalitarianism and god(s). The late, lamented Hitch was a 'disciple' of Orwell.

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08-11-2013, 09:52 PM
RE: God as Big Brother
In the book it does become clear there is no actual big brother. So now I wonder if Orwell was an atheist.
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08-11-2013, 11:18 PM
RE: God as Big Brother
(08-11-2013 02:26 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Well, I'm pretty sure Orwell didn't have all that in mind,

You are correct, Nineteen Eighty-Four has nothing to do with religion or god. The book itself makes that clear but for anyone that wants to argue about this there are Orwell's letters. This is what Orwell wrote to Roger Senhouse--his publisher--about Nineteen Eighty-Four:

Dear Roger,

Thanks so much for your letter. As to the blurb. I really don’t think the approach in the draft you sent me is the right one. It makes the book sound as though it were a thriller mixed up with a love story, & I didn’t intend it to be primarily that. What it is really meant to do is to discuss the implications of dividing the world up into ‘Zones of influence’ (I thought of it in 1944 as a result of the Teheran Conference), & in addition to indicate by parodying them the intellectual implications of totalitarianism. It has always seemed to me that people have not faced up to these & that, eg., the persecution of scientists in Russia is simply part of a logical process which should have been foreseeable 10–20 years ago. When you get to the proof stage, how would it be to get some eminent person who might be interested, eg. Bertrand Russell or Lancelot Hogben, to give his opinions about the book, & (if he consented) use a piece of that as the blurb? There are a number of people one might choose from.

I am going into a sanatorium as from 6th Jan., & unless there is some last-minute slip-up my address will be, The Cotswold Sanatorium, Cranham, Glos.

Love to all

George

(Orwell and Davison, A Life in Letters, p.448)

Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948 and the events of the time influenced him.

Quote:but I'm even more impressed by the book after realizing this. Any other common qualities between Big Brother and God that I missed? Any differences?

I think they are the wrong reasons to be impressed by Nineteen Eighty-Four and you are to some extent missing the point. The principal totalitarian society that Orwell is parodying--the USSR--was officially atheistic. The USSR (as well as Maoist China and North Korea) showed that you don't need religion to create a dystopia.

Orwell was a socialist and like most socialists he was an atheist.
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09-11-2013, 10:30 AM
RE: God as Big Brother
Whatever Orwell admitted publicly about 1984 is one thing.... But I think there are too many similarities with religion.

The unseen yet omnipresent leader, the requirement to believe in the ludicrous, the constant surveillance... And of course Room 101 being hell.

It really wouldn't surprise he if Orwell slipped these similarities in deliberately.

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12-11-2013, 05:12 AM
RE: God as Big Brother
Sorry for bringing the thread back up but I was away and couldn't answer before.

(08-11-2013 11:18 PM)Chippy Wrote:  I think they are the wrong reasons to be impressed by Nineteen Eighty-Four and you are to some extent missing the point. The principal totalitarian society that Orwell is parodying--the USSR--was officially atheistic. The USSR (as well as Maoist China and North Korea) showed that you don't need religion to create a dystopia.

Orwell was a socialist and like most socialists he was an atheist.

I'm not missing any point. I didn't say I was impressed by how Big Brother seems to be like God, I was impressed by the book in general but even more so when I realized that the concept of Big Brother is applicable in many cases. I'm impressed by the fact that Orwell was able to grasp these ideas and put them into words and inspire and provoke the act of thinking, which is what led me to the comparison I mentioned in the first place.

And what does the fact that the USSR was atheistic have to do with my comparison? I'm not saying that Big Brother was like a God in Oceania, I'm saying that Big Brother is like the Christian god.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
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