Thesis In George Orwell's novel 1984, Orwell portrays governmental control over daily life as undesirable; however, governmental control over the citizens' lives makes a better society for the mass of Oceania's citizens.
A strict control maintained by the government establishes a positive and peaceful atmosphere within the society. All of material needs are guaranteed by the state, for all classes, self-restraint is a central virtue, though in the lower classes control and moderation of one's own desires are explicitly linked to the virtue of obedience. The Party is consciously seeking to create the ultimate totalitarian society, a world that "is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined" (Orwell 220). A strict control of the state ensures a maximum happiness for all of its citizens, a goal that would remain central to subsequent thought. However, his suggestion that individual freedom should be sacrificed in order to assure this happiness would become a central concern of fiction (Patai 149). The society goes to great extremes to negate any differences in material circumstances that might lead to rivalries, jealousies, or competition for material gain. Moreover, to ensure that there can be no question of one family's house being preferable to another (and that the citizens do not become too attached.
The governmental control over the citizens lives make a better society because the Party also furthers loyalty among its members through the use of numerous techniques borrowed from religion. As with many conventional religions, Party solidarity is furthered by communal rituals, but in a reversal of the Christian emphasis on love the central Party ritual is a phenomenon called the "Two Minutes Hate." In this rite of hatred, Party members gather before a telescreen as programming focusing on the heinous treachery of official Party enemy Emmanuel Goldstein gradually whips the crowd into a frenzy the intensity of which might be envied by any Bible-thumping Southern preacher (Patai 247). The viewers jump up and down, screaming at the screen, and even those who are initially less than enthusiastic find themselves caught up in the mass hysteria: "The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in" (Orwell 16).
Orwell emphasizes equality above all else, even to the point of suppression of individual liberty and imposition of a potentially oppressive conformity, enforced by a constant surveillance in which all citizens watch all others, with those who deviate from accepted behavior subject to harsh punishments. Thus, this strict control helps the society to avoid civil disobedience acts and violence. The state itself is fundamentally informed by a privileging of the community over the individual. Mass society live a communistic existence, with property held in common. Individualism is thoroughly subjugated to the interests of the state, to the extent that many of the practices clearly foreshadow the intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens in modern fictions. For example, marriage is considered a service to the state rather than an expression of individual love, and it is accordingly administered by a Ministry of Love. In Oceania sex is to be regarded primarily as a