The dystopian genre of literature revolves around society with oppressive leadership with non-conforming structures (Orwell 26). Usually as Booker (5) notes, malevolent autocrats rise to the throne and stamp autocratic systems in running the society. More often, the government of the day is characteristic of endless travesties that cause human suffering and wanton deaths of the masses.
Although written in dire rejoinder to the communist world’s lack of respect to humanitarian want, Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” has resounded with clear echoes to many regimes in the 21st century. The regime of Omar Al Bashir in Sudan candidly captures the tone of the novel; it is adequately reminiscent of many other totalitarian regimes that existed around the world like those of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein (Schofield 175).
Within Omar’s society, the regime has been profoundly bloody, despondency, and wanton, making it within the framework of a dystopian society that thrives through clandestine activities and abject totalitarianism. This paper explores, Omar Al Bashir’s society as fostered in the Orwellian “Nineteen Eighty-Four” dynasty displaying some of the predictions that the author made centuries ago.
The nature of dystopian society as depicted in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”
While it could be misrepresentations of facts to insinuate that the baseline of dystopian literature lies basically on the presence of totalitarianism, in fact, this would amount to gross simplification dystopian genre of literature (Zuckerman par. 3). In tracing Omar Al Bashir regime’s emulation of Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” this article must explore the basic and frequently occurring aspects prevalent in a dystopian story. Omar’s regime could not probably be in this category were it just undemocratic alone.
Clearly, the stern existence of autocratic government that subjugates the people’s freedoms and strips the masses of their civil liberties has to reinforce the facts. In Omar’s Sudan, there is a total disconnection between the people and the state. The regime is a typical dynasty with no clear constitution to protect the citizens (Kahn 35). The power wielded by the ruling elites overthrows the sovereignty of the people. The people become disenfranchised, as they have little say in all that affect their lives.
Sudan as a county has never known democracy, and the enduring power of democratic ideals cannot thrive under Bashir’s regime. Within these structures, democracy, liberty, and opportunities are a reserve of the ruling elite and the people, therefore, poses no power to challenge these structures. In both the Orwellian dynasty and Omar’s regime, the structures of the government are a peculiar singularity.
They are both maligned entities that are more inclined to the obliteration of fundamental freedoms to extend the captivity of humanity and cause general public affliction (Orwell 24). In Omar Al Bashir’s Sudan, fascism is the order of the day, and the people have no moral authority to question the legality of the state.
Insofar as Omar Al Bashir’s regime continues to curtail the right to exercise free will with limited space for political dissidence, the mirror line is drawn between Orwellian dynasty depicted in his “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and Bashir’s regime. Therefore, many themes in George Orwell’s “1984” capture these singularities.
State monopoly of information by the ruling oligarchy
In Omar Al Bashir’s Sudan, the vulnerability of media looms large; the state wields control on all media platforms and news reporters can only achieve their work under stern censorship. Keeping in mind that the prevalence of a free media is the source of a robust democracy, Bashir’s regime, according to Kahn (21), is inclined on killing the fundamentals of truth, which are a democracy, liberty, opportunities, and unyielding human rights and freedoms.
Whenever a government wields effective domination on the dissemination of information, the masses cannot nurture a robust public discourse on most subjects that affect the lives of the people (Zuckerman par. 5). In more certain terms, whenever the society is subjected to the Orwellian type of government, anti-establishment worldviews cannot feasibly summon adequate influence (Orwell 23).
In the past few months, Bashir’s regime has curtailed press freedom with increased motivation to outlaw publications including those of books and magazines. In Sudan, currently, there is the watertight censor of all media platforms that extends to even social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and the Short Message Services (SMSs) provided by the cell phone interface.
The malevolence and stern control of every facet of the society in Bashir’s regime wields connotes a miserable condition where real or perceived enemies of the state perish at the whims of the oligarchy (Grubisic, Baxter, and Lee 34). In Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” the regime both distorts history and deftly deny the population the truth by keeping the masses misinformed through state-regulated channels such as national radio programs and impartial television coverage (Orwell 27).
Just like Omar Al Bashir’s regime knows that “ignorance is a strength,” the party in power in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” declares this to be their slogan and a symbol of authority to extend their hegemony.
Certainly, an element of truth exists in what Orwell prophesized many years ago. The society depicted in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” thrives in the notion that an ignorant and less-informed population is easy to manipulate and govern. As such, citizens cannot summon the courage to question the authority of the excesses of the state.
Many things that happen in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four also mirror the tribulations in the “Animal Farm” (Orwell 15). Here, the pigs stamp their authority on other animals to expand their domination by inspiring illiteracy for their abuse of power and make the constitution of the farm serve the interest of the favorites.
Since other animals lack education and probably the right to information to understand their rights adequately, the animal society succumbs to the aristocracy of the ruling elite (Posner 6). Virtually, in both societies, the citizens fail abysmally in their privileges to guard against draconian constitutional promulgations that, ultimately, fix their lives under the rule of bizarre, as well as illegal and unconstitutional institutions.
The modifying of history to make the oligarchy relevant
The reigning regime’s slogan in Nineteen Eighty-Four denotes that the past dictates the future. Therefore, this makes it necessary to take care of the present in shaping the future by modifying history to sound better (Orwell 54). In more certain terms, in order for an authoritarian regime to nurture a sense of internal legitimacy capable of pacifying its potential detractors, it must seek to create a modernizing version of its society’s history that depicts it in a better light, especially in the eyes of the outside world.
We see this vividly in Omar Al Bashir’s Sudanese personality cults surrounding his kitchen cabinet. The central theme in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is typical of Bashir’s clinging on history to stamp his authority. Just like in Bashir’s Sudan, the citizens in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” do not know what informs the priorities of the regime apart from its craving willingness to stay in power.
Sudan’s regime under Bashir borrows a lot from Orwell’s novel highlighting a society hell-bent on clinging to power through malice and deceit (Orwell 126). Noting that these themes have intimate relationships, Zuckerman (par. 7) opines that a government of Bashir’s epitome cannot rewrite its history without first having to monopolize information.
Whereas “Nineteen Eighty-Four” society distorts its historical tyrant past, Omar Al Bashir erases his by eliminating staunch opposition supporters. Orwell captures this wherein a distant future, there will be no memories of a society’s history since the government takes it from them. In both societies, the masses have no understanding of ill health, famine, or war. Both societies have never known love, joy, peace, opportunities, liberties, adventure, and democracy.
Designated as the mouthpiece of memories, Jonas trains under the guidance of Lowry, who seems to have the in-depth familiarity of the human experience in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” society (Zuckerman par. 8). Both the Orwellian dynasty and Bashir’s regime realize that the absence of historical experience makes the society experience a profound moral, cultural, and constitutional deprivation without notice.
Obfuscation of equality through stage-managed actions
For the regime to survive in its treacherous nature, it extends stage-managed actions intended to woo the masses to see the greater common good that the regime holds forth. This design and structure of rule as Zuckerman (par. 6) notes may look good in the eyes of the unsuspecting citizenry, but, usually, it falls below the threshold of a democratic society that the less egalitarian regimes seek to hide. Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” explores this exactness in an extensive detail that meets the scope of Bashir’s regime.
Exploring the theatrics of a dystopian society, Bashir’s regime mirrors downright ridiculous governmental regulations that are fortified in the pretext of equality and helping the needy. Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is an extension of a futuristic pariah state that the people of Sudan have inherited under the watch of Al Bashir. Corporations and organizations have little freedom to do their business in the light of the day, as state regulation makes many businesses to close down, thus weakening the economy.
This rejoinder results in appalling shortages of basic commodities and services such as food, electricity, and transport (Orwell 37). Both the Bashir’s regime and Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” foreshadow a complete collapse of the economy that might eventually lead to greater destruction and anarchy.
Usually, the character of equality in dystopia is not a preserve to economic factors alone; they extend to afflict every facet of society. Obsessive autocrats such as Bashir’s regime in Sudan espouse a wayward adage of the “Animal Farm” that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” (Orwell 45). The representation of facts herein is that there is fundamentally no equality in law and practice. Equality in dystopian society only resides in word, but in practice, nothing of the risk can be incurred.
The Bashir’s regime has mastered the art of lying and is hell-bent on extending the bondage of human captivity by giving the citizenry underhand deals. The oligarchy in power dominates every sector of the economy ranging from state appointments, the rule of law, to public tenders. The appointments of public officers are based on filial trust and not a meritocracy, making individuals with no academic capacities be in charge of leadership positions.
With these individuals in power, it is hard to effect change in the society for they lack the moral will to transform the lives of the masses (Stanton 330). Within these structures, the Sudanese society will increasingly slump in socio-economic and political limbo because the unwavering, corrupt, and despotic state authority that is forced on them by a military clique-turned civilian overthrows the power of the people.
The loss of sovereign identity by the citizens
The pursuit and persecution of individuals who hold ideologies contrary to the ruling elites are usually the epitomai of totalitarianism. Those who dare task the unorthodox philosophies or reject heterodox powers clowned by the oligarchy experience the ruthlessness of despotic maladministration by a corrupt, tyrant regime (Orwell 33).
Dystopian literature as forwarded by Orwell takes this hatred of egoism a step further. However, in Bashir’s oligarchy, it portrays a regime seeking to eliminate the richness of diversity to overthrow media freedoms as its lifeline in the destruction of individualism and freedom of thought, which are the fundamental concepts of national sovereignty.
The extension of absolute power to the presidency, as Bashir’s regime denotes, describes the helplessness of a waning society in Sudan. Omar Al Bashir pushed himself to power in 1989 in a military putsch when he led a coup d’état that ousted the régime of the then Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi (Stanton 349).
Since then, he has retained his grip as the President in mock elections that have been a travesty to democracy. In 2009, the International Criminal Court indicted President Omar Al Bashir for crimes against humanity in The Hague based court (Mamdani 45).
The corrosion of family ideals and societal ethics
As a theme in dystopian literature, it is usual to see a society besieged in totalitarianism. Pundits acknowledge that the family is the basic unit of society. As such, the family unit has the sole prerogative of building stronger societies. This is only possible in societies where the rule of law articulates individual freedoms capable of making the citizens in these societies build stronger families and households. It is typical of dystopian literature that a society that degenerates and loses filial ties destroys societal consciousness (Bellin 35).
In societies destroyed by war and conflict, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters may not exist due to the aspects of disturbance. The society may break apart in evading fascism, making families to live worlds apart. Being deficient in family ethics, Bashir’s regime has created a generation that is hesitant to question their plights and cannot summon the audacity to challenge the status quo.
The struggle to do away with the totalitarian regime is a commonplace vendetta in every society that experiences it. However, dystopian literature seeks to provide a mirror image of what the future holds in these totalitarian administrations. As the struggle to free humanity of despotic nature of the regime heightens, human suffering also gains momentum owing to the government’s desire to stay in power.
What informs President Omar Al Bashir’s rise and grip in power is his lack of democratic structures, which makes him unpopular with the masses. From the preceding analysis, George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a true reflection of Bashir’s autocratic, corrupt, and infamous regime in Sudan.
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