1984 – The dark side of identification

Two minutes of hate (clip from the movie adaptation)
1984 by George Orwell (link to the book)

My interest in posthumanism mainly revolves around the vague and difficult to define subject of human nature. In relation to this assignment, I think it is an essential discussion and consideration to keep in mind, when exploring what constitutes the main challenge to human unity. I am not sure if I am going a bit off-topic, but it seems obvious to me that the main challenge lies in humanity itself. To be a human, or to be someone at all, involves creating boundaries and barriers between ourselves and others/the world. This separation needed for identity, of course happens not only on an individual level, but also on larger scales – nations, cultures, religions etc.
The book “1984” by George Orwell serves as a great example of the dehumanization inherent in human nature – the tendency to think in terms of “us” and “them” and particularly how a powerful elite, who control information, can use this feature to control large populations. Taking this psychological approach, it seems possible to think of the concept of “human unity” as a depressing oxymoron. It would nevertheless be extremely important to include in discussions of posthumanism and new challenges of division.

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4 Comments on "1984 – The dark side of identification"

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Claudia Bubke

Hi Maja,

I had similar thoughts when the phrase human unity came up, especially since we are often taught that being unique and different from others defines us as an individual, which in turn, appears to be an integral part of what it means to be human. At the same time, the overarching fear that drives humanity is that of the mentioned other. However, the discussed concept of human unity also includes an acceptance of the other, meaning that unity not necessarily brings along sameness.

Johannes Poulsen
Johannes Poulsen
I don’t think this is off-topic at all. Dehumanization and the idea of an elite controlling the limits of the human comes up in several other posts for this assignment, and 1984 is an important ancestor to not only many works of popular fiction but also to our contemporary language of exclusion, manipulation and surveillance. I also think it draws attention to the relationship between posthumanism and the posthuman. Thinking about the posthuman doesn’t necessarily require you to take a posthumanist standpoint. You might imagine the future from an entirely humanist perspective. However, posthumanism seems to “stick to” especially the… Read more »
Sebastian Edin

Hi Maja,

I really wouldn’t classify your post as being “off-topic”. I think, in talking about a ‘divided humanity’, one is somehow assuming there is an original unity which could, at some point somehow, be divided. The existance of a human “nature” is of course very debatable, and one might very well argue that what we normally consider our “nature” is really a construct more than some a priori thing that is somehow pre-programmed into us. For a very interesting talk on this very topic, check out the following youtube link:

Foucalt & Chomsky debate on “Human Nature”—