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One State

Much was written about utopian societies, until the birth of Yevgeny Zamyatin, who was the author of “We”. Completed in 1921, “We” was the first anti-utopian novel that had rooted from the author’s personal experiences during the 1905 and 1917 Russian Revolution, and much about his life. This novel speaks about the importance of heterogeneity, variety, and color in this world instead of having a perfect world, which is of only one color, homogenous and boring. Zamyatin’s visionary world was focused on the “One State”, a nation constructed entirely out of glass so that the Guardians (police) can keep an eye on everyone.

The only time shutters were allowed to be used was during “the sex hour”. Love, marriage and babies are not allowed though. The system works like those in prison cells – people have to wear identical uniforms and the only way to be identified is through a fixed number. The last number and letter determines if the individual is male or female. For males, the last number is an odd number partnered with a consonant, while an even number and a vowel combination is for the females.

They eat only synthetic food and they march in fours in the state’s anthem as a form of recreation. The ruler of the State goes by the title of “The Benefactor”, who governs by his principle “happiness and freedom are incompatible”. To restore happiness, freedom must be removed. (Orwell) The novel was written through the perspectives of D-503, a mathematician/philosopher and the builder of the Integral spaceship. He was once involved with an affair with O-90, which eventually led O-90 to give birth to a baby. (The baby was named after his father.

) She was obedient to all the rules of the One State, until she left with the help of I-330. I-330 is a leader of a secret resistant or rebel group. She and D-503 eventually get entangled in a romantic relationship, which changed the latter into becoming a real philosophical person. When the rebellion broke out, authorities have discovered the people where suffering from a disease called “imagination”. After removing it with an x-ray treatment, he resubmits himself to the One State and reveals to the authorities the plans of rebellion. (Lekic)

One of the dystopian novels patterned after Zamyatin’s is Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Although the theme between the two books is similar, “Huxley’s book shows less political awareness and is more influenced by recent biological and psychological theories”. Through the use of treatment, drugs and hypnosis, the human nature – including primitive instincts such as maternal feeling and the desire of liberty – can be controlled. However, there is no clear explanation on why such a society like this should exist. Orwell further explains:

“The aim is not economic exploitation, but the desire to bully and dominate does not seem to be a motive either. There is no power hunger, no sadism, no hardness of any kind. Those at the top have no strong motive for staying at the top, and though everyone is happy in a vacuous way, life has become so pointless that it is difficult to believe that such a society could endure. ” After 25 years, George Orwell published “1984” – another book that revolves around the themes of human freedom and happiness. Zamyatin has put on a great emphasis that happiness and freedom cannot co-exist.

In the novels, “freedom shows the ability to think, feel, love, cry, and happiness (in the novels) shows blindness, deception, no thought, and no feelings. When one is free, they can think, feel, ponder on questions, they exist. ” (Lekic) Set in a boxed atmosphere, individuals in “We” perceive life as perfect. Anything out of their world is a disease. This is as opposed to “1984”, where an authority controls an individual’s mind; therefore, controls his/her perspective in life. Whatever the government feeds, there is no need to feel, think or doubt because it is “manna sent from heaven”.

Mateja Lekic further discusses the highlights between the two novels: ‘“We” and “1984” are warnings for the totalitarian systems, losing yourself, and becoming a subunit in a system… This is another big highlight in “1984” and “We,” showing that when people forget about thought and heart, and become machine and ignorant, the world becomes much different (though not to them). ’ From the various reviews I have scouted for this review, I have come to a conclusion that we are not far from living in the glass-contained One State.

In Lekic’s review, I like how she pointed out that “people in today’s world are not interested in thinking” anymore. We keep marching to the streets, demanding for freedom, but in reality, we are become more and more dependent on the Benefactor – the government. People, especially the masses, no longer want to think and reflect. We only want what gives us gratification – what makes us happy – than what makes us free. This attitude is a subtle indicator that we are being controlled discreetly. Another good point by Lekic is extreme ignorance – “an ignorance of being machine-like”.

She describes it as the unwillingness to listen and to weigh the pros and cons to a situation. “1984” and “We” actually warns us that if we continue to be ignorant, we become machines submitted under manipulation. We are not machines. We are given the ability to think and to observe. It is up to us if we want to fight for the truth that can truly set us free. The “burueaucracy” with the perfect rationality of the system has in fact robbed us of our freedom. We just take things as such because that is the way the system works.

We are actually like birds in a golden cage. No matter how beautiful that cage is, it is still a cage that keeps the bird from being free. In today’s highly commercialized world, we become unconscious victims of the giant machine where we need to work and work so we could buy and buy. No matter beautiful all our commodities are, like the golden cage, we become slaves to our material obsessions. Like the song, “Hotel California” our lifestyle is such that “you can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave.

When all things become predictable and perfect, then that is the end. There would no longer be variety, excitement, creativity and fun. Life is a continuous struggle for perfection. It is the process that is important and that is why we are perfectly imperfect and imperfectly perfect. Bibliograph Lekic, Mateja. “Essence of We & 1984. ” 24 October 2006. Orwell Today. 4 May 2010 <http://www. orwelltoday. com/wereview1984. shtml>. Orwell, George. “Review by George Orwell. ” 4 January 1946. Orwell Today. 4 May 2010 <http://www. orwelltoday. com/weorwellreview. shtml>.

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