Everyone’s disappearing… Take me too, maybe? –– The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Between trying to study for my mid-terms and trying to finish reading The Master and Margarita I have to admit I’ve become very confused; everything is just mixing together in this one big container labelled “brain”.

And while this mixing is going on, certain aspects of George Orwell’s 1984 surfaced and made me cringe because I did not particularly enjoy that reading from high school, though I have to admit a lot of what happens here in The Master and Margarita is similar to that of the dystopian world of 1984. Everyone is spying on everyone, everyone is suspicious of everyone, and everything is the same for everyone. Kind of boring, except there’s supposed magic and sorcery in this, which piked my interests a little. That and it’s just downright creepy what happens to some of the characters in this novel.

During the lecture today, the idea of choice was mentioned, and that lead me to think about one particular slogan used in 1984, “Freedom is slavery”. Whether or not the citizens of Moscow had a choice of which radio channel to listen to, is it not all controlled by the government either way? “Freedom is slavery”; the illusion of freedom results in the slavery of the people. They think they have a choice, but they are actually controlled by the government in the choices they make.

This leads to another thought, of whether this form of control is present in our society today. In a sense, we are slaves of choice as a representation of freedom. I say this because we are constantly having to make choices through our everyday lives. Starbucks or Tim Hortons? Tea or coffee or hot chocolate or latte or cappuccino? Don’t all these small decisions in our lives enslave us to consumerism and capitalism, aiding the economy and the government as well?

The regulation of the population in The Master and Margarita also highlights this, in that people supposedly have a freedom to do as they please, but they do not, in fear for the secret police and the mysterious disappearances. Maybe I’m not articulating this very well since I am just wondering around aimlessly on this train of thought and will just disappear now amongst the studying and readings I have to do.


— cherie.

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  1. The “freedom is slavery” idea is very thought provoking. At first it made me think that perhaps too much freedom may be a problem because without some sort of limitations people might feel paralyzed, not knowing what to do (utter freedom to do or choose anything? how hard would that be?). But that doesn’t really fit with the slavery part.

    I like your point about this possibly referring instead to the illusion of freedom while still existing as slaves in some sense. And it makes a lot of sense to me to consider that even to the degree we think ourselves much more free than people living in the USSR under Stalin (and there is no question that we are MORE free, I think), we can also recognize that there may be ways our choices are still quite constrained. They are constrained at least in the sense that what gets made as products or services are those that are going to appeal to either a lot of people or the rich, because those are the ones that are going to make money. Things that are needed or desired by those without a lot of money or that are desired by not that many people, are not going to be as much available, I think (at least if what is made or provided as a service depends on making a profit; not always the case, because there are numerous publicly funded services, for example). And your point about being caught in a consumerist ethos is a good one too.

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