9

Generally, most totalitarian regimes in history have been atheistic, shunning any form of religion and creating a cult of mass worship towards the leader(s) of the government. Does this hold true for the Party in 1984, or does the Party endorse a religion? If so, what religion?

I've done some background research on this, and I've found that Orwell was strongly against anti-Semitism. From Wikipedia:

Writing in early 1945 a long essay titled "Antisemitism in Britain," for the Contemporary Jewish Record, Orwell stated that anti-Semitism was on the increase in Britain, and that it was "irrational and will not yield to arguments." He argued that it would be useful to discover why anti-Semites could "swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others."

...

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, written shortly after the war, Orwell portrayed the Party as enlisting anti-Semitic passions against their enemy, Goldstein.

Thus, obviously the Party was anti-Semitic, but what religion does the Party does follow or encourage? I'm looking for answers supported by textual evidence.

  • I would disagree that most totalitarian regimes have been atheist. Surely most have been predicated on one religion or another. – Chenmunka Jan 26 '17 at 13:39
  • A description of religion or semi-religious thinking in Eastasia would be relevant as well. – Andrew Grimm Mar 4 at 11:58
18

The Party and State appear to be atheistic, or rather fully in worship of Big Brother.

Countless other words such as honour, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist.

and

'These things happen,' he began vaguely. 'I have been able to recall one instance — a possible instance. It was an indiscretion, undoubtedly. We were producing a definitive edition of the poems of Kipling. I allowed the word "God" to remain at the end of a line. I could not help it!' he added almost indignantly, raising his face to look at Winston. 'It was impossible to change the line. The rhyme was "rod". Do you realize that there are only twelve rhymes to "rod" in the entire language? For days I had racked my brains. There was no other rhyme.'

and

What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped 'false gods'. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods.

Among the proles, Smith posits that religion would actually be allowed if it hadn't simply withered away and died in the absence of any religious leaders.

The sexual puritanism of the Party was not imposed upon them. Promiscuity went unpunished, divorce was permitted. For that matter, even religious worship would have been permitted if the proles had shown any sign of needing or wanting it. They were beneath suspicion. As the Party slogan put it: 'Proles and animals are free.'

  • 1
    +1 This is a great answer with lots of great quotes from the book. I'm going to hold off on accepting it though, just because I'd like to get some other points of view. – fi12 Jan 25 '17 at 23:35
  • I think the first two quotes support your answer. The last two seem ambiguous. – michael_timofeev Jan 25 '17 at 23:57
  • 1
    @michael_timofeev - These are Smith's own musings on the state of religion in the Oceanic state. Who better to commentate on that society than someone who lives in it? – Valorum Jan 26 '17 at 0:10
  • @Valorum I'm fine with the comments being Smith's, I'm just not sure that they are conclusive. The first two quotes seem much better suited. Personally, I see it as obvious that the state in 1984 is atheistic. I say this given that Orwell was using the Soviet Union and Stalin as a model and he knew enough about Stalin's Russia to know what was really going on, namely that religion was systematically being rooted out. – michael_timofeev Jan 26 '17 at 1:17
  • 1
    @michael_timofeev - They might not be slam-dunk conclusive, but they go toward building a picture. – Valorum Jan 26 '17 at 1:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.