Food in 1984

324772543_a4b22a38ed_bAs I was reading George Orwell’s 1984, I noticed that the Party members of Oceania had very little to eat, the opposite of what the government says. It is mentioned that the ration of chocolate was once reduced from 30 grams/week to 20; the next week, it was proclaimed that the ration was RAISED to 20 grams/week, to make people believe they actually had it better than in the past. Also, all the aliments were generally very poor quality– Victory Gin, one of the few alcoholic beverages available, was oily and tasted like nitric acid and food was tasteless and provided in short supply. These indicate that the totalitarian government wished to keep the population weak and underfed, and thus more prone to manipulation and easier to be turned against certain targets. Food is used by the Inner Party, the government, to control the people of Oceania. The government also use food to remove individuality and identity from its people. Everyone eats the same meal everyday. The people don’t even have regular products such as sugar so they have to use tablets of saccarine. Even when the citizens of Airstrip One are forced to live with less food, they are told that they are being given more than ever and, by and large, they believe it. The ministry of Truth is behind the misinformation, affecting the Ministry of Plenty’s output quotas, by blatantly lying about how much is actually produced. The Ministry of Plenty rations almost all food and drink, with the exception of cheap “Victory Gin.” Orwell was very insightful to note the connection between heavy alcohol use and compliance to the whims of a totalitarian state, where the government is the only source of food and money for the population. All other food products are poor quality, made in government-owned factories that are constantly behind on schedule because of the intentional inefficiency of the government-run industries in Oceania. Orwell had this insight, during his lifetime, Stalin proved just how far a totalitarian would go to starve his people into compliance.

Photo © Anton Raath (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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