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Laura Amy Schlitz

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2 + 2 = 5: 1984

If you think your teachers are scary, you haven’t met the education specialists from 1984. When those folks tell you 2 + 2 = 5, you’d better believe them.

What’s this got to do with you? You may not have experienced the horrors of a political re-education camp, but you’ve probably experienced advertising. Orwell’s novel is more than a cautionary tale about government tyranny: It’s a warning about the power of language to distort your sense of reality.

1984

George Orwell, 1949
Famous for: Big Brother, doublethink, and some of the 20th century's most memorable quotes: "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

How to Write an A+ Essay by Jenny Sawyer

1984 by George Orwell 60second Recap Decoder Resources Page

1984 by George Orwell mocks Stalin's Soviet "2 + 2 = 5" campaign.

2 + 2 = 5, Soviet-style.

2 + 2 = 5 : A Brief History of Lunacy

At the height of World War II, George Orwell was outspoken in his hatred of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Both dictators ruled with old-fashioned terror. Both dictators controlled their citizens with new-fashioned techniques of spreading propaganda. And both dictators stifled dissent and smothered thought with half-lies, whole-lies, and flat-out nonsense…like “2 + 2 = 5.”

Literally.

In Hitler’s Germany, one of the highest-ranking Nazi officials, Hermann Göring, announced, “If the Führer wants it, two and two makes five!”

In Stalin’s Soviet Union, government propagandists declared that the five-year economic plan would be completed in four years, and then printed thousands of posters emblazoned with the slogan:

2 + 2 = 5:
Arithmetic of a Counter-Plan
Plus the Enthusiasm of the Workers.

Such strident illogic frightened George Orwell as much as, if not more than, the raging world war itself. In his 1943 essay, Looking Back on the Spanish War, Orwell wrote:

1984 by George Orwell: 60second Recap Overview

Up Next…Recap Two, 1984: Overview.

“Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists….The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past.

“If the Leader says of such and such an event, ‘It never happened’ — well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five — well, two and two are five.

“This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.”


 

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