1948 Review


That whole NSA thing got swept under the rug real quick, huh?

I think it’s time for us to revisit some of the dystopian elements of 1984 and see if they still interface with our society.


Richard Rorty's book Contingency, Irony, and Solidaritylays out a story about the irony of freedom with  resignation to the fact that the world we live in is made up of the situations in which we live. We have little or no control**.**

Furthermore, the work goes on to wagea crusade against "fundamentalism," or the notion that our beliefs, behaviors, and beliefs are well-founded and justified by greed,refer to some ofthedeepest beliefs that can never be questioned. Rorty also offers a brilliant and refreshing reinterpretation of 1948

by George Orwell(who remains a central figure in modern politics), especially forChapter 8 on O'Brien**.**

This article argues that Rorty uses the relationship between O'Brien and Winston to prove to us that there can be no objective truths in the world and that moraltruths and truths can be altered by power

O’Brien and Winston

O'Brien is portrayed as a mysterious figure throughout the novel. Winston, the book's protagonist, describes O'Brien as a tall**,** sadistic man. He felt he had a connection with O'Brien**,** who convinced him that he was against the Party and  part of the Brotherhood. Winston considersO'Brientobe a great leader who is anti**-Party and believes him oninstinct.** The author makes us  believe that the only two similar characters have the courage to take action for a change.

"O'Brien is a greater being than he [Winston] in every way." But despite this sentiment, we also know that Winston thinks "[O'Brien] is the executioner, he's the protector, he's the investigator, and he's the friend”.

Winston seems to have aconflicting relationship with O'Brien**.** He hadgreat respect for him, but he also despised him the same way he despised the Partywithin.

On the other hand, it is difficult to say what O'Brien thinks of Winston. Most of the book does not reveal any significantopinions he may have about Winston. O'Brienseemedindifferent to  Winston, but, there is one instance where O'Brienthinks he should change Winston.

Truth, Cruelty, and Moral Facts

Rorty uses the relationship between O'Brien and Winston to show us that there can be no objective truth  in the world. The central idea that Rorty putforward about the relationship between the two characters is whether something is  in facttruerelative to what we simplyconsider to be true or appear to be**.**

“…the truth is not dependent on language, nor is there a neutral basis for arguing that  torture or kindness is better than another”, said Rorty.

Rorty is arguing that the liberal argument that cruelty or torture is evil may not necessarily be true. According to him, moral truth is a relative concept about which everybody has his or her definition and beliefs.

Through O’Brien’s interaction with Winston, Rorty believes that the same ideas or things that make human equality a reality are the same ones that can lead us to endless slavery. He states that what years of philosophy, history, science, and poetry hold to be true may not necessarily be true.

Rorty writes that what we see as “crazy, misguided, seduced by a mistaken theory, or blind to the moral facts”.

O’Brien’s intelligence and intellectual skill, which would have otherwise been a tool for achieving good, can also be used to commit unspeakable things. We only perceive by relying on the years of ‘foundational’ traditions and beliefs that it is so. But despite our beliefs, we cannot be certain that this is, in fact, so. In this sense, Rorty argues that the O'Brien-Winston relationship shows that the very things that give us human equality can also go rogue and lead to human slavery.

Whether Winston Could Have Done Better

I don't think  Winston could have resisted better than what he did because the endless torture made him  irrational and fearful. The reason was that the time he stayed at the Ministry of Commerce had broken his spirit and will.

This deadly wish could mean that Winston's central trait is his fatalism. The implication of this fatalism is that Winston rebelled against the Party not because he wanted freedom, but because he wanted the Party to kill him.

The philosophical implication of  why Winston could not be better resisted is that physical pain can overcome human reason. Winston couldn't think in the faceofa swarm of rats roamingaround to devour his face.

Concluding Remarks

Richard Rorty's 1948 book Contingency, Irony and Solidarity defends liberal individualism and "ironism”.It also offers an interpretation of liberal "ironism" with its resignation to the fact that the world we live in is made up of situationsin which we have little to no control.