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    Why the hate? 

  • The Party go deliberately out of their way to stamp out positive emotions and instill negative ones, to the point that they're planning to erase their current protocol of making the Outer Party love them with outright hatred and desire for violence. Why? Literally everything the Party does is to render everyone else submissive for the sake of domination; making their loyal followers bloodcrazed psychopaths is a stretch, but have them desire the same things you do is the recipe for disaster. They're not like The Sith, who have a vested philosophical interest in cultivating ambition. The Party is defined by being pragmatic, molding their subjects' reality to become docile with no sincere philosophy attached. This just screams Stupid Evil.
    • I think O'Brien was meant to be talking only about the Inner Party when he made that rant about destroying everything but hate, or meant that all that hate would be directed towards the Party's enemies. And if I recall correctly, ambition, at least of the personal sort, wasn't mentioned in that spiel. The fact that members of both parties, historically speaking, are liable to become either braindead sycophants incapable of running a mile, much less an empire, or corrupt, backstabbing psychopaths either way is another question.

    Real political purges don't work that way. 

  • Orwellian purge of thoughtcriminals doesn't stop its strain for decades, and people are eliminated for mere suspicion of thoughtcrime, like it happened to Parsons and Ampleforth, and actually, ALL named Outer Party members (Winston, Julia, Parsons, Syme, Ampleforth) in the book were arrested by Thoughtpolice and eventually broken and brainwashed. It's complete nonsense. French Reign of Terror was driven by revolutionary craze, and it ended with terror's inspirators executed, installation of corrupt, but much less violent oligarchy, and later, Bonaparte's takeover. Hitler's Night of The Long Knives was quick and it destroyed his actual political rivals in NSDAP. Stalin's terror was driven partly by his paranoia, partly by necessity of elimination of professional revolutionaries, who became useless and dangerous for building and maintaining solid and powerful state, and last, but not least, because everyone in the Party were able to write deletion on their personal enemies, but that definitely excluded overall fanatism. And remember, Big Terror never lasted for decades, and post-Stalin USSR looks like Equestria compared to Oceania. Chiang's White Terror on Taiwan was brutal, but it was committed for completely other reasons. And there is no logical point in eternal witch-hunt against thoughtcriminals.
    • Oceania is based on real-life dictatorships, but it is not an imitation of any Real Life one. It is meant to be the ultimate totalitarian state, of a level not seen by any real civilization in the past, present, and probably future. Besides, all of these governments you mention ultimately fell-Oceania is designed to last either forever or for the duration of the human race, whichever comes first, so using any of these governments as a model makes no sense. The Party believes (whether accurately or not) that these governments fell because they actually tried to do good for their people, and so the Party actively avoids doing good for anybody but themselves (or for Big Brother rather). Allowing thoughtcriminals to go unpunished would count as doing good for somebody, therefore it must not be done.
      • If they are driven not by pragmatism, but by pure sadism, then why do they make proles' lives much better and safer than Party members? And if they want people to suffer, it's easier to start a war, oversee battles and massacres of civilians, violently suppress any dissent of the occupied country's residents, set up battles with senseless casualties... Because War Is Hell, war is easier and more intense way of satisfying sadistic desires. It's strange that George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War, but his description of nightmarish dystopia doesn't show war but simply the possible endgame of WW2-time London. I know that the Party leads wars, but they designated for other purpose, Also, during real purges, State Sec suffers more than anyone, including executions of the very organisers of terror — like what happened to Marat, Robespierre, Yagoda and Yezhov. Even Stalin was probably murdered by Beria, who was shot soon by rivals for power. And that means that even Party leadership and Thoughtpolice cannot enjoy the terror — they also expect that some night, someone will knock on the door, and to actually enjoy this they must be sadist and masochists at the same time.
      • Proles are made better and safer than Party members because they are seen as a necessary ally of a successful revolution, and as such they are conditioned to not give a shit about politics so that they won't revolt. As for starting a war... Yeah, war is a great way to get sadistic desires, but it's also (at least of our kind rather than Oceania's) a good way to lose a lot of power, especially if Oceania is in fact just London. As for the Inner Party being in danger too: Doublethink. They simultaneously believe that they are controlling the system and that the system is controlling them. Meaning they both love it and fear it.
      • O'Brien used doublethink not to worship party. but to his own gains, he made Winston to use it, but was open about his desires. And Inner Party as we know it will be eventually self-destroyed for above-mentioned reasons, and replaced by not fanatics and sadists, but by either ambitious and pragmatic opportunists, like Napoleon took over, or shallow and inefficient bureaucrats, like Khrushchev replaced Stalin. And for war — they can just attack a weak country with opportunities for partisan warfare and large population, secretly supporting partisans, and holding both their soldiers in danger and fear, and terrorizing native nation. It wouldn't be dangerous to their power, like Vietnamese War and their guerrilla didn't much endangered US power.
      • O'Brien used it for his own gains, obviously, but what has that got to do with what I said? He simultaneously believes that he is controlling the system and the other way around. There are only 3 countries (if there are any at all, which is doubtful), all 3 of which are (supposedly) too strong for the other two to conquer. As for the Inner Party being self-destroyed, O'Brien is supposed to be quite old, and the Revolution was recent enough that there are people alive from before it. He may have been one of the original members of the Inner Party.
      • O'Brien said he had witnessed torture of Aronson, Jones, and Rutherford at young age. And if we purge EVERY SINGLE thoughtcriminal it would paralyse Party work. First of all, constant purge would simply critically depopulate Party. Secondly, intellectuals and technocrats are necessary for the work of the system, and Winston mentions that mindless mediocrities are not often arrested, but intellectuals, even fanatics like Syme, don't last long. This would eliminate most of the technocrats and deprive the Party of intellectual resources. Thirdly, government, where everyone uses doublethink is not workable. For example, to make economic systems work we must have realistic statistics of the past and prognosis of the future, and because statistics are constantly rewritten, they are useless for economic planning. Economists and administrators cannot work when they don't have realistic information about state of economy and industry, especially, when newspapers and government statistics say everything is A-Okay, while in reality, plans are unfinished, and industry is degrading. What are Thoughtpolice going to do, when they find out that they must either eliminate the whole Miniplen, or let millions of thoughtcriminals go free? However, given that Winston doesn't know much about society, Thoughtpolice may be softer on other branches of Party, and because we don't know anything about what happens outside London and nearby area, "Oceania" may be trading with other countries (especially, if they aren't Eurasia and Eastasia), and economic system outside of London may be completely different.
      • Doublethink can work quite plausibly for planning and administrative purposes. For instance, the department of the Ministry of Plenty responsible for agricultural production might officially claim that wheat production for the next year is planned to be 10 million tonnes; this official total might go up, or down, but that's largely a matter for the Inner Party and the Ministry of Truth to work out and put to the public. The Miniplenty officials would not use that figure; they would privately use a more realistic target, such as three million tonnes, and plan resources on that basis, always referring to the figure by some euphemism such as 'illustrative total' or its Newspeak equivalent. The crucial thing is that a Miniplenty official must believe in the official total, and only work with and use the real total for the purposes of internal planning. The ability to manage successfully on one set of figures, while believing another set even if it changes dramatically without notice, is probably how Inner Party members advance.
      • Any question about how the system overcomes Flaw X forgets the basic principle of Ingsoc, which is that the Party is always right. The Party's plan is flawless because The Party says so, not necessarily because of any actual facts or flaws being well-taken care of. Though why these flaws don't take effect is another matter. One could always say they do, but the Party rejects your reality.
      • Why assume the system continues forever or even that long? It could well collapse. For all we know it collapses 6 months after the story ends (Although probably not) to a more realistic 20-50 years. Just because the Party is planning to rule forever doesn't mean it will. Sooner or later, it collapses under its own weight. Hitler planned for their being a "Thousand Year Reich" which fell short by 988 years!
      • That means, reader must use Willing Suspension of Disbelief, because 1984 is a thought-experiment on psychology, not a description of a believable fictional state system.
      • The unfortunate fact is that even the most depraved and disgusting dictatorship cannot do without intelligentsia and talent - they are needed for administrative purposes. Intellectually mediocre people cannot manage the state system. Unfortunately, they are also the most likely to be dissidents and think in an unorthodox way. The continuous elimination of the most capable, talented and ambitious will either lead into a decrepit regime of dullards bound to collapse, or into a continuous state of paranoia and elimination game which will paralyze the system completely as nobody is able to trust anyone anymore but everyone instead attempts to sabotage each other and each other's work and the result will be collapse. The Vitality Curve, or "rank and yank" business management philosophy and its spectacular Real Life failures have demonstrated that any organization with continuous culture of purging will disintegrate - the continuous atmosphere of fear will destroy any will to co-operate and replace it with paranoia, sabotage, backstabbing, corruption and common distrust - which is disastrous to a supposedly well-oiled machinery such as the Thought Police.
      • The Real Life history of Soviet Union and its purges show that the result of a prolonged policy of purge will be collapse. Stalin was paranoid enough to eliminate any potential competitors and anyone charismatic enough to threaten his position. Unfortunately, it also meant eliminating any potential successors. The only reason why USSR survived beyond 1939 was WWII - first, the Nomonhan War against Japan, then the Winter War against Finland and finally WWII against Germany - and they also curbed down Stalin's paranoia and purges. The spectacular failure of fhe Winter War showed what will happen when the ablest professional soldiers are vaporized, and the almost complete collapse of USSR in 1941 was a result of dire distrust and atmosphere of fear. After WWII, the Soviet system was on the verge of collapse, as the economy was in shambles, country devastated and ruined, 30 million lives lost - and the Gulag system populated with 10 million ex-prisoners-of-war who were able and willing to organize, fight and resist. In 1953, at Stalin's death, the whole Gulag system was in state of mutiny and the NKVD unable to control it anymore. If Lavrenti Beriya in the end did poison Stalin, as is claimed, it was a result of the continuous culture of fear and paranoia which Stalin himself had created. The men who eventually replaced Stalin, like Khruschev, were dull, unimaginative bureaucrats with none of the charisma of Stalin.
      • Likewise the Real Life studies of bullies, street gangs and criminal organizations tend to confirm that the bullies seldom get to enjoy of the purely sadistic lifestyle of theirs: rather, they live in continuous state of fear and paranoia. There are no professional, sophisticated O'Briens in such organizations - only thoroughly corrupt and paranoid louts.
      • Some of this, it should perhaps be noted, is a case of History Marches On. The authorities of the Soviet Union were hardly going to admit to the economic consequences of the Stalinist purges and the unrest in the secret gulags to the point where Orwell would be aware of it at the time he was writing the novel. We're aware of lot of these facts because Soviet files that were kept secret and hidden weren't made available to Western historians to confirm all this until after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, which didn't happen until fifty years after Orwell's death. Orwell was writing at a point in history where the Soviet Union looked all-powerful and threatening to the world at large, which is reflected in how he presents the society in his novel, and it's not entirely fair to criticise him for not considering future geopolitical developments he had no way of foreseeing or data and information he had no way of accessing.

    Was Winston physically killed at the end? 

  • I have always wondered if perhaps the bullet in the back of the head thing was meant metaphorically. The first time I read the book I took the bullet entering the back of Winston's head line to mean he had finally dropped off the deep end. To me the very notion Winston could construct a narrative to tell the reader came from the fact he still had same tiny modicum of himself left somewhere. As far as being broken down in Room 101 was concerned: Could it be possible that the hatred he was enduring galvanized some remote piece of Winston Smith deep down, on a subconscious level. The party knew he was still cast in the old dye and killing him with some of himself left, no matter how small, would violate their every principle. Being released back into the world, being allowed to become an alcoholic wash out in turn allowed the kernel of his true self to soften, and the meeting with Julia, the realisation that even the thought of sex made his skin crawl and meeting face to face a person he most likely thought dead by his own cowardice finally nipped out that final piece. At that point Winston smith died as an entity, essentially having his brain shoot itself. His conscious mind could no longer eke out the energy required to construct a narrative of his life. After that, well they may have shot him or left him as grey sludge walking, but to me, to write a book that is so deeply terrifying on such a primal level and just have a faceless mook shoot the protagonist in the back of the head at the end, it just doesn't seem like that was his real angle.
    • Their stated aim was to kill him the moment he finally fully accepted Ingsoc, and given O'Brien's almost superhuman understanding of Winston's psyche it's unlikely they got the timing very far off.
    • Winston was broken by Room 101. He ceased to be a prole and became a member of the Inner Party. When that happened, the good man who was Winston was executed. So what you read was true...from a certain point of view.
  • Whether you take it as Winston being killed or the person that Winston was ceasing to exist, totally and absolutely, doesn't matter, which I imagine is why it wasn't made perfectly clear. Winston's crime was struggling to have personhood in a system that exists to remove that at every level (even the highest level), it doesn't matter what happened to Winston because the whole book is about the undoing of him mattering at all, even to himself. The what is irrelevant, only that, in the end, there is no Winston.
  • From what I took of it, Winston was killed some time after the end of the book. All the fussing about after his arrest was meant to break him into a proper, obedient member of the party and only after he basically became indistinguishable from the mass of other obedient party members, they one day executed and unpersoned him.
  • Okay, in the second-to-last paragraph of the story, Winston is still in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. One of the waiters comes and pours him more gin, but Winston doesn't notice because he's "sitting in a blissful dream". He sees himself in the Ministry of Love, confessing at the public dock, walking down a corridor with a guard behind him; "The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain" is that paragraph's last sentence. In the very last paragraph, it mentions him looking up at a poster of Big Brother with tears trickling down his nose and it ends with, "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." So he was completely and utterly defeated, but since he's capable of looking and crying after the bullet in the brain part (which he of course couldn't do if he'd actually been shot), at that point he has not been "physically killed" and is still alive.

    Omnipotent Thoughtpolice 

  • Surveillance system. It watches and controls everything. But it must have at least a few breakdowns. Then a Party member with broken telescreen will simply bribe the technicians that arrived to repair it. Given the rickety state of Oceania's economics it cannot be absolutely effective.
    • A) Bribe them with what? The Outer Party lives in constant shortage of even the basest necessities. B) If a telescreen is broken, then the people who are watching it on the other side obviously know that.
    • You obviously don't know much about socialism. In real life, almost everything in Soviet Union, which was a socialist state, was inefficient — and a huge system of surveillance would be also prone to break down.
    • The system does suffer breakdowns. It says right at the beginning that there's an awkward bit of architecture that hides a certain spot from the cameras, which allows Winston to keep a journal of forbidden thoughts. If the system was perfect he would have been found out and arrested immediately. But the system isn't perfect, so he was able to get away with low-grade rebelliousness for awhile before the Though Police finally got him.
  • Thoughtpolice are even larger and more powerful than The Gestapo or the NKVD. These organisations had to be tamed by such incredibly strong leaders as Hitler and Stalin respectively, and after Stalin's death Beria tried to take over. Because Big Brother probably doesn't exist, and the country is ruled by a bunch of oligarchs from Inner Party, then why don't Miniluv leaders simply kill their enemies and start to rule Oceania? But then Miniluv will become corrupt and inefficient, focusing on in-party battles rather than on the elimination of thoughtcriminals.
    • Because the Miniluv leaders are the Inner Party. It is their tool of oppression and torment.
      • But even then, they would need a strong personality to lead them, without it, they would think only about luxury, private riches and petty power — like soviet Nomenklatura after Stalin's death.
      • If the Miniluv leaders are the Inner Party, a coup by Minipax is always an option. Since the army of Oceania is most likely based on conscription, such coup would even have popular support as a "true empowerment of people".
      • My guess is that Miniluv is an umbrella organization with a number of competing agencies with Big Brother in direct control of the ministry as a whole while he is also Commander in Chief which puts Minipax under his direct control which is also divided into a number of branches. All of these compete with each other. Big Brother is the head of the Party as a whole and when he dies there is a power struggle that involves backstabbing, assassination, and all sorts of skullduggery until someone comes up on top who is the new Big Brother. After that he has always been Big Brother of course.
      • Never stated or implied (in fact, it would go against how Big Brother doesn't need to exist, and the apparent simplicity of the ministries), but it can be your headcanon.
  • And constant purge of everyone who committed thoughtcrime or was just suspected cannot go on for more than 20 years. If you look at Reign of Terror during Great French Revolution, or Stalinist purges of 1937-38, you will see that they ended with elimination of the purges' inspirators, like Nikolai Yezhov was succeeded by Lavrentiy Beria, who was much saner and more pragmatic. Likewise, after, at longest, a decade of purges, the Inner Party would consist not of sadistic maniacs nor single-minded fanatics like O'Brien, but of dull and corrupt bureaucrats.
  • Real Life dictatorships never trust one single intelligence organization enough to give it omnipotent power, but they rather create competitive organizations to keep them in check. In USSR, the KGB (State secret police) and GRU (military intelligence) were on each other's throats. Likewise, in Germany, it was The Gestapo, Sicherheitdienst and Abwehr - of which the latter actively sabotaged the war effort of Germany. Even in spookokracies like modern day Russia, the powerholders are careful enough to keep the secret police in check - and to keep the other machineries of violence (armed forces, criminal police) in state of safety and satisfaction. Military coup is always an option in a civilian, spook-backed, dictatorship.
    • It's not too hard to imagine that "the Thought Police" is actually made up of multiple sub-groups competing for power in just this way, and the details of this are simply kept secret.
      • See above: theoretically possible, but purely speculation and implicitly contradicts how they're described and portrayed.

    Party's activities violates postulates of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. 

  • Because of Pop-Cultural Osmosis most people think that 1984 is a direct representation of Machiavellian ideas. They are absolutely wrong. First of all, one of the most famous (and perverted by media) Machiavelli's ideas — you should be both feared and loved, and you must avoid hatred by all costs. To do the former, you must use Bread and Circuses methods, and eliminate the most dangerous of your enemies, but you should do it only at the start of your rule, to do the latter, Machiavelli told one to never encroach on your citizens' property and commit unnecessary massacres. The Party does completely opposite of Machiavelli's advice. The Party does nothing to be loved. It keeps its citizens (not only proles, but also white-shirt workers) in poverty and hunger, even the Inner Party members are said to be poorer than old-time capitalists and aristocrats; it wages endless war, which lies as a burden on the whole society. It does many things to be feared, but it can't be eternally and absolutely effective. And finally, it does everything to be hated. It eliminates all the party members for every wrong thought, including Inner Party members, and they would hate it even more than they are afraid of it.
    • In other words, it's exactly like every dictatorship in history. And it does do things to be loved, it's just all through deception instead of any actual benefit. And they don't hate it because if they do, they die.
    • Do you know ANYTHING about dictatorships? Real life is not a show for retarded teens with Good Republic, Evil Empire trope everywhere. Dictatorship doesn't have to do these things at all. Dictatorships are not Always Chaotic Evil monsters, they are simply another state form — not good, not evil, just different. For example, Soviet Union gave free education and medical care for everyone, there was very little unemployment, standards of living greatly improved since the time of Russian Empire. And not a single sane dictator engaged in endless campaigns of terror, war and poverty. Even Stalin started only one terror campaign on Orwell's scale: it lasted for TWO years, and later it became much tamer.
      • You talk about the Soviet Union like it's a model that a dictatorship looking to keep power should follow, but how well did these tactics work out for them? Oceania isn't meant to be "the Soviet Union IN THE FUTURE" or "The Prince IN REAL LIFE," it's meant to be the ultimate limit of totalitarianism. The Soviet Union didn't keep power until humanity goes extinct (which is the Party's only aim) either in Real Life or in the book, so to expect the Party to create something that is just like the Soviet Union is idiotic. The book also makes it clear that the Party is fundamentally different in principle from any other dictatorship in the past, in that while the Nazis, Soviets, etc., had at least a mild interest in humanity's well-being (which the Party considers to be the reason why they all fell), the Party has no care for, trust in, love of, or loyalty to anyone other than Big Brother, and forces all other citizens into the same mindset, thereby making any kind of even mild dissent or dissatisfaction impossible.
      • Dictatorships in real life are heavily slanted towards evil. Of course there can be exceptions (especially in the short term), but fundamentally dictatorship is a system where one person has all the power and if that one person does stupid or corrupt things there's no way to stop him short of violence. Democracy provides a way to peacefully remove bad leaders and retain good leaders. Obviously that leads to better outcomes, especially in the long run.
  • Sun Tzu warned against leading unnecessary wars. It spend much money, it provokes citizens to riots, it leads to dissent of population and crises of economics. The Party don't follow these advices. Instead, it does absolutely opposite. THIRTY YEARS of world-scale war would simply destroy Oceania's economic, completely devour its resources and ruin ecology.
    • Since it's an unwinnable war and the people in charge know it, there's no need to actually use up any resources or spend any money.
      • But Goldstein's book says, that war actually eats all the free resources and money, and that's the purpose. However, the real purpose may be fight for necessary resources in case if Oceania is only Britain.
      • Right, the war is an excuse for the Inner Party to keep all the resources, but it doesn't actually use it for the war any more than is necessary to keep people frightened about the enemy.
    • "Dissent" in Oceania is simply something you don't do.
    • Here's a question: Is there even any war?
    • Oceania is an awful place to live, and there's every reason to believe that the war has destroyed the economy, devoured a lot of resources and ruined the ecology. Besides, a thirty-year war can't really be called unrealistic when the Thirty Years' War actually happened already in real life.


  • Shouldn't Oceania economic system simply go bankrupt? I mean, it spends all the money and industrial resources and capabilities on military needs for several decades and plans to do it endlessly. In real life, war is a hardly profitable business. Nazi Germany actually had to attack Poland simply to rob its territories, and USSR became fatally dependent on export of oil and raw resources in exchange for grain, food and consumer goods. Oceania may have a badly equipped army like North Korea, but unlike it, Oceania has to spend much more resources, because it actually wages war. Oceania can't have endless money for endless war!

    • The Party has control over all of Oceania's resources, so there's no need to pay for something they already own. Oceania is also large enough (Great Britain, Australia, Southern Africa, and both North and South America) to have access to pretty much any natural resources they'd need. I wonder what they would do when their resources are depleted, though.
      • But USSR also had almost all resources it needed, but it also has to spend money, labour-time, industrial workers, while they didn't spend as much money as Oceania did, and they still had money for decent living of their citizens, for free education and medical care, while Oceania spends all free money and resources on war, and eventually its economics will go bankrupt.
      • Which is likely to happen to Oceania over time. It is bigger than even the USSR, but it is even more of a war economy. If they balance each other out Oceania should start falling apart around 2030 sometime assuming it was founded in the 1960s.
  • Corruption in Ministry of Plenty. Even the best State Sec system cannot be perfect, especially at solving financial crimes. Novel mentions a very large and important black market. Also, the Soviet Gosplan (State Plan) was an incredibly corrupt and inefficient structure. Ministry of plenty is even bigger, and it runs absolutely everything in Oceania's economics, and it doesn't appear to be very effective, and problems will grow bigger. How can the state with such an inefficient economic system last forever?
    • The Soviets didn't have telescreens in each and every room of everyone's home. No matter who you are, you are under surveillance 24/7; even the Inner Party doesn't get more than 30 minutes free. Anyone handling stolen money or displaying even the inclination of wanting to steal money would be caught. Also, this stolen money would have to be cataloged somehow, and any ledgers would be spotted and read by the Thought Police like Winston's journal was. In any case, there isn't much to spend money on, anyways. Winston describes the shortages of basic goods as the result of under-production, not a lack of money to purchase them with. Since the Inner Party probably isn't experiencing these shortages, and receive the basic necessities by way of rations, there's literally nothing they could buy and therefore no reason to embezzle funds.
      • Any Tech Savvy party official could hack - or have someone else to hack - his telescreen in a matter of minutes. Given the overall low state of technology in Oceania, detecting in which mode the telescreen is on would be fairly simple. Telescreens, like any CCTV or similar systems, can easily be distracted and hacked: after all, they are not magic but technology, and as such bound to laws of physics.
      • Why wouldn't an important administrator and member of Inner Party simply bribe Thoughtpolice? Anyway, almighty Thoughtpolice, which can eliminate everyone would be also deeply corrupt, simply extorting money from high-standing thoughtcriminals.
      • Such corruption would be rampant. Towards the end of Stalinist era, many Soviet intellectuals simply turned on crime as a) they expected to be caught anyway and criminal prisoners were punished more leniently than political and b) you could have more comfortable and cozy life on crime (such as black market) than by "honest" means. With such corruption, also the moral collapse of whole society would be inevitable.
    • What makes you think that the state will last forever? That's just Party propaganda. Of course it has to collapse eventually. It just doesn't collapse within the timeframe of this book.
  • The economy is bankrupt. Buildings are wrecked, and repairing a broken window takes months. Coffee and sugar are luxuries available only to Inner Party members. Winston is surprised that the elevators in O'Brien's building work. The Party like it that way, because it keeps the proles poor, uneducated and uninformed: The purpose of the perpetual war is "to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living."

    The Perpetual War is Pointless (For the Party) 

  • Now, I get it, the war is to soak up resources yadda yadda. And I'm sure that Orwell had this really deep and convincing idea as to how this all worked, but it's still a stupid idea for any political entity to try. Let us assume — and since, all speculation aside, we have no reason to doubt what is said any more than what isn't — that the Party really does control this vast, sprawling empire and has a gentleman's agreement with their "neighbors" not to use WMDs and actually WIN the war. Why? Yes, resources, proles, control and all that... But why THAT way? Why the least efficient way possible? By my recollection Oceania is not only the largest but most densely populated by far of the three states. Even if we assume that they have a lower population, overall they have more resources, more land, more avenues of attack etc, etc, etc. There is NO logical, or even pragmatic Machiavellian reason, to do this thing. Any sane person — even INSANE person — if told "you have twice the land, resources, money and power of your enemies" would respond "kill them all, take their shit." And frankly there is no reason to believe, again, that East Asia and Eurasia have a snowball's chance in hell of resisting them, even if they have more money or people. The resource differences, the industrial differences, would win out (assuming that even SOME of America and the UK's industrial resources remain after the war, which they clearly do, or else the other two would never recognize Oceania at all). And even if they were all mauled during the war the sheer size and material wealth of Oceania by stint of simple landmass would win out eventually — they basically control some of the most fertile, energy and materials rich land on Earth. In short, there is no reason for them to go along with this war assuming that they are as powerful as they seem to be, and if they aren't then that opens a whole new can of worms. Why would the rest of the world, for any reason, allow them to exist when they're supposedly a nuclear armed state? That much, the very fact that they have nukes and ICBMs, is made obvious by the supposedly "faked" attacks on their own territory and the fact they evolved from the UK, a nuclear power. Again even if they got mauled, they still would have some elements of their old nuclear resources and ICBMs left. In short the entire idea, no matter how in depth it is or how impactful it is, is based on this notion that either: A) a known, pre-war nuclear power with ICBM capability is allowed to fall into totalitarianism with NO ONE stopping or even attempting to stop them; or B) the largest and most powerful state in the world is allowing two lesser states to exist simply because George Orwell says so with no practical, political or logical reason otherwise.
    • The purpose of the war isn't just to burn resources, but to keep the populace in line. If there were peace, you couldn't have almost-nonexistent rations or 15-hour workdays because there's no way to justify it without angering the people. In war, however, you can say "If you don't accept this, you will die" and the people have to accept it, doublethink or no. Simply lighting the surplus goods on fire produces the desired economic effect but not the societal one.
      • Yeah, but that's the point, even then it doesn't work. If the purpose was to keep everyone under control a huge, fully functional military with NO outside usurpers whatsoever and TOTAL control over information (the latter already in place) would do far better. There is no evidence whatsoever that people would rebel if suddenly the other two superstates ceased to exist, especially since the Outer Party, allegedly the "heart" of any possible resistance, is small and can be controlled by force of arms and the proles don't give a shit. Keep the proles under control — or better yet, kill them, it can't be that difficult when they're unarmed, uneducated and completely unorganized — and the Outer Party is impotent to resist. And ALL OF THAT is still completely unnecessary since you really don't need constant war to get people to do what you say if they have no capacity to fight back (no guns, no real organization) and you control the military exclusively. What would the proles or Outer Party do? Rebel... With what weapons? With what leaders? A simple riot, no matter how big, would result in a strafing run by a single jet fighter and that's that. The only reason real world rebellions like this — like the one in Egypt recently, for example — didn't collapse is because the leaders genuinely didn't feel like having a bomber drop a ton or two on the rioters. In Oceania this is not even a problem... In fact, I'd figure they'd consider it a plus, since it gets rid of a lot of mouths to feed. And even then any kind of rebellion requires the proles, Outer Party or both to even recognize they're enslaved, which they wouldn't because all opposition is gone, all information is controlled by the state, and the military can handily kill anyone who even gets near forming the thought of resistance. The war is just stupid. It's just not necessary. The war is totally pointless from any kind of practical standpoint — well, other than the standpoint of wanting and needing the story to remain internally consistent and push his political message, but no in universe practical purpose.
    • Maybe the other two countries don't exist, and the war is just a lie that is kept by only the highest Party members. Nobody in the book has had a firsthand account of the enemy. They've only seen videos of foreign looking people, and been bombed. Perhaps the government shows different regions of their locus of control different videos (the video of rampaging Eastasians that Winston sees could be a propaganda video in favour of those same people elsewhere).
      • At one point, Winston joins a large crowd and watches a vehicle drive by with prisoners of war from another country, so it's possible that Eurasia and Eastasia exist; on the other hand, they could've just been some unlucky Oceanians who were passed off as foreign prisoners. Winston mentions that no one really knows much about what the rest of Oceania is like. Or even the non-London parts of Airstrip One, aside from the nature trails (which aren't too far from the city).
    • OP says he understand the point of war, to burn up resources, then goes on to show he actually does not. In the real world, economic and resource surpluses are what allow empires to 'grow' their wealth. What happens is excess wealth goes into improving the standard of living, educational opportunities, support for the arts and so on. Put another way, excess wealth flows create the 'middle' classes than so often conspire to overthrow the current ruling classes. Creating wealth, eventually dooms almost any elites to overthrow from below by the middle class, who always enlist the help of the lower classes to do it. The 'point' of the endless war is not just the narrow concept of 'using resources up', which is a crude way of looking at it, but rather to ensure economic surpluses that would ultimately provide the means for the outer party to trade places with the inner, simply don't exist. The book itself states clearly that military victory IS NOT any of the three super-states goal. Oceania knows for example, Eurasia could easily conquer Air-strip one if it wished to do so. The end goal, is to ensure that the three super-states produce just barely enough to sustain their own operations, and nothing more. Lack of economic surpluses mean the outer party always in a state of permanent resource starvation itself. Again, Orwell points this out. Even O'Brien talk about this dynamic. He tells us that the party barely expends any resources monitoring the proles, but pays extremely close attention to what the outer party is doing. The endless wars' (real) role is to keep the outer party both busy, and on the knife edge of starvation. Now in case someone wanders, well, why not end the endless war and let the inner party reap all the rewards and economic surpluses for itself? Sounds sensible, except in that scenario, the inner party would quickly become decadent and ineffectual and set itself up for eventual overthrow. The endless war is the 'glue' that keeps the proles helpless and indifferent, the outer party on the edge of starvation, and the inner party focused and not distracted by or weakened by decadence and material pleasures. Mr. Orwell did his homework.
    • Has it ever occurred to you that the Party is simply insane? This is discussed explicitly in the book. O'Brien shows Winston a picture, burns the picture and then immediately says "I do not remember it". Winston contemplates the frightening possibility that O'Brien actually does not remember the picture from 5 seconds ago, because he's been so thoroughly trained to avoid thoughtcrime. It's really no stretch at all to imagine that the entire goverment is suffering from a sort of collective insanity. They used all their super-intense propaganda techniques to control the populace but over the years they got high on their own supply and they don't even realize it. Any number of high-ranking people might believe that the war is all a farce to keep the Party in power while simultaneously believing that the war must be fought because our enemies are evil. I mean heck, if you're wondering why a powerful government would wage a really stupid and ultimately self-desctructive war...look no further than Nazi Germany. Even from an evil self-interested perspective, Hitler's decision to invade everybody made absolutely no sense. But he did it anyway because he was crazy. So yeah, if you're saying that there are better ways for the Party to maintain its grip on power, I agree. But it's pretty realistic that they would do dumb things like that. Denying reality is their whole shtick.
  • One reason for a "Fake War" (presumably the party uses the bombs it produces to drop on its own citizens) might be that it avoids the problem that beset pre-Revolutionary France and Russia — you're providing a group (the army) with the means to overthrow the state. If the war is entirely fake, you don't have to hand guns out to anyone.
  • Real Life militaries simply do not work that way. They are not designed for war in war's sake. Real life militaries are machineries of violence intended to complete a task - that is: to win a war - not to extend the task indefinitely. A war does not only require an enormous amount of assets and resources: it also requires manpower, and given to the low state of technology in Oceania, the army would most likely be based on conscription. While such armies are humongouns numerically and require horrible logistics, they also do have an unexpected side effect: they actually educate and train the soldiers and teach the soldiers how to fight, kill and survive. Armies are huge meritocracies. They require officers and other administrators - which may well come from prole background, and once repatriated, are potential leaders of resistance.
    • Not to speak that a military coup is always an option in such civilian dictatorship. What would happen if the Minipax leaders grow fed up with the inefficiency and indecision of the Inner Party leadership?
      • Like the Red Army overthrew the leadership of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union? The Inner Party is aware of the dangers of a coup; that's one of the tasks of Miniluv- to prevent that. Hey, it turns out that your second-in-command of the coup is willing to turn you in to the Thought Police in order to take over your position. Stalin certainly orchestrated purges of the Soviet Army to prevent just that. Hitler was also very aware of the power of the Wehrmacht to overthrow him, and used the SS and Gestapo to make sure that didn't happen.
    • A morbid thought comes to mind, regarding the Party and the eternal war it maintains. As noted already, the "why" would be to maintain a specific status quo where production is always just enough to keep the system from collapsing under wartime pressure, while not building up any capital that would go into the people and their quality of life. The "how" presents a major issue however: the only way this system would work is if all three world powers were actively collaborating to maintain a level of conflict that keeps the production and depletion of resources at the desired balance point. This would require all three to escalate and de-escalate conflicts among each other to balance not only how much they're throwing at the enemy, but also how much punishment the enemy can take before their production becomes overtaxed. The Fridge Horror kicks in when you consider that such a system would require the other two parties to also have the same interest in maintaining a perpetual state of warfare. The problem with this is, if any single power decides that this system is absurd and shifts gears (whether towards making peace, or towards actually trying to achieve victory), or even if one of the world powers miscalculates how much weight they need to throw around to maintain the status quo, then the whole system collapses and drags all three powers into ruin.
    • An army is just another type of organization. In theory, every organization should be a meritocracy (depending on how you define "merit" at least). But it doesn't always work out that way! History is full of examples where armies were plagued with incompetant leadership that held power anyway on account of political connections or whatnot. The British Navy once had a policy that allowed you to buy your rank (up to a certain level), which wasn't removed until the Victorian age. Hitler made plenty of dumb mistakes that harmed his own forces, but nobody threw him out on account of meritocracy. And if the Real life militaries you're familiar with are not built to extend a task indefinitely, that's no reason to assume that no military could ever be built in a different way. The Thirty Years War lasted thirty years, and the more recent U.S./Afgahnistan War lasted 20 years. It's not hard to imagine really extreme cases where war lasts much longer than that and armies are built to suit that situation.

    Newspeak would have eventually brought about a H.G. Wells like social system. 

  • The whole concept of Newspeak is flawed. What Newspeak basically is, it is just another agglutinative language - a language which has small corpus of words but where expressions are formed by using derivations, suffixes, prefixes, casi and affixes. Such Real Life languages include Japanese, Finnish, Turkish and Hungarian. Neologizing - creating new words for concepts with no descriptive words - is ridiculously easy in such languages. Merely restricting the corpus of words in a language does not impair its speakers' ability to express the concepts - it only channels the expressions to new directions. In fact, when 1984 was translated into Finnish, the translators had enormous difficulties to credibly explain the whole idea of Newspeak - Finnish language already follows its principles, but Finns have no difficulties on finding expressions of their thoughts on their own language.
    • Why does everyone assume that Newspeak is evil on account of its agglutination? The agglutination is completely incidental! I think Orwell only introduced it just so the Newspeak would draw attention to itself, e.g. so the reader would immediately think "Oh weird, they've changed the language somehow". But the actual evil part of Newspeak is that it prohibits certain concepts. I don't speak Finnish, but I presume the the Finns have a word for "democracy", right? Even if it's an agglutinative word, it's still a word. There is a way to express this concept. Newspeak doesn't have that, because it's forbidden. If anyone tries to make a word for "democracy", they get arrested by the Thought Police. If the Thought Police weren't around, people would start making up new words for things and Newspeak would evolve into just another language. But the Thought Police are around, and they're watching everybody, and they won't allow the language to evolve in a natural way. I think the in-universe reason for agglutination is just to throw everybody off-balance, to see who's rigorously sticking to the new script and who's falling behind (the latter could be a sign of rebellion). If English was agglutinative in the first place, the Party would have forced everyone into a non-agglutinative language. Since English isn't agglutinative, they pushed it the other way instead.
      • Orwell, an advocate of linguistic purity and discipline in real life, probably just made up a language that seemed technically functional, but overly simplistic, not realizing that languages using such mechanics already existed. And this interpretation of the purpose of Newspeak is patently false; the appendix explains, in no uncertain terms, why Newspeak exists: to purge complex thoughts, because they can't be expressed using it, and will therefore fade from people's minds. If the Thought Police did know and could arrest whenever someone approached concepts of rebellion, Newspeak would be completely redundant. Plus, concepts like democracy haven't been nor are intended to be purged from thought in Ingsoc: Winston states at one point people are supposed to Doublethink that the Party is the champion of and enemy of democracy, and Goldstien advocated democracy (with O'Brian stating his ideas will always be mocked).
      • Ok fine, I was wrong to cite the word "democracy" as something that Newspeak had purged. But the underlying ideas had mostly been purged, hadn't they? The sorts of thoughts that would lead you to (a) truly understand what democracy is, (b) truly understand why it's a good thing, and simultaneously (c) truly understand that the Party is not democratic and therefore the Party ought be overthrown are obviously thoughts that the Party doesn't want you to think, and Newspeak is designed to eliminate (or at least reduce) those kinds of thoughts. People are called to praise the Party for defending "democracy" (in practice, the word without the concept) while simultaneously praising the Party for fighting "democracy" (this time referring to the word and the concept) which is cast as an evil idea advocated by Goldstein. Newspeak is designed with these objectives in mind.

        Part of my confusion comes from the fact that Newspeak is still being developed in-universe at the time of the story. You may recall that Syme was working on the latest Newspeak dictionary, and he had this to say: "By 2050 —earlier, probably— all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like Freedom is Slavery when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now." So if Winston is currently able to say something like "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four", the idea is that a Winston-equivalent in 2050 won't be able to get that far, because the entire concept of freedom will have completely disappeared by that point! I'm sure that the concept of democracy is intended to suffer a similar fate.

        Meanwhile, the Thought Police does arrest people who start thinking in rebellious ways; that's why they're called "The Thought Police". Granted they can't literally read minds, but they do the best they can to suss out rebelliousness wherever they can find it. The charge that this makes Newspeak redundant is irrelevant, as the Party is utterly obsessed with power and is therefore quite happy to spend resources on multiple redundant anti-rebellion strategies. If either Newspeak or the Thought Police stumbles, the strengths one strategy can cover the weaknesses of the other.
      • You're right, "redundant" isn't the best word; "pointless" or "mis-guided" would be better, since, assuming language and thought in this universe work the same way they do in real life (which can't be taken for granted, this is ultimately a sci-fi and speculative fiction work), Newspeak would have no power to prevent rebellious thought because thought creates language, not the other way around. The impetus of preventing rebellion thought would remain totally on the Party's Thought Police, conventional propaganda and censorship.
  • Consider this, the entire idea of Newspeak is to simplify language and stupefy the lower and middle class right? Well, that may work out great for controlling the party, but how about actually running and ruling it, or keeping the entire system going for that matter? It's suggested that the only those of keen, substantial intelligence are drafted into the inner-party from the outer part and lower. But how is that possible if by 2050 or whenever, everyone is speaking the revised version of Newspeak, nobody is taught Oldspeak, and no one is intelligent in the slightest? It would seem like either O'Brien was lying about power being passed through children, or citizens upon being admitted to the inner-party, have to go through rigorous training and education to learn Oldspeak. My reasoning for this is it just would seem incredibly difficult, almost impossible for the Inner-Party to still rule over society, making new laws, communicating cultural/economic information, speaking the actual truth of reality (For which Goldstein writes is still necessary to keep war/science going, 2+2 must = 4), as well as fighting their battles and engineering. One possibility I thought might be that they use 'doublethink' in this way, that they can somehow communicate Oldspeak but only when deemed absolutely necessary. But then I realized that honesty the Inner Party in no way would ever accept having the same thing done to them, in order to maintain power they'd honestly need a sense of reality, not only to for that but also because of pride and superiority alone. (Material advantages aren't all being top-class offer) Obviously in RL, Hitler and Stalin and their colleagues would never let themselves be subject to their own propaganda and brain-washing, so they must maintain their Oldspeak somehow. Another possibility I thought was that they'd have specialist in Oldspeak that can run things for them simply because they can, but the party would probably never give them that right. (Control-freaks and all).
    • Newspeak doesn't actually eliminate thought. Rather, it prevents anyone from having the ability to express what thoughts they have, effectively making it so that to other people, it seems like they do not have thoughts to begin with.
  • So overall, this lead me to the conclusion that assuming the party doesn't fall under its own delusions, and Newspeak really is implemented to its fullest extent, you'd eventually have a sort of socio-race division, allude to HG Well's 'The Time Machine.' You'd have two different classes that not only are speaking different languages, but are subsisting in entirely different realms of thought, it'd be as if the inner-party (those that don't subject themselves to what the enforce on the proles) was a separate species, like the Morlocks and the Eloi. Of course they wouldn't really be a separate species, but the proles would think so differently and be basically work-bots, slaves almost to produce goods for the inner-party, who in turn would rely on either specialist or the proles' stupidity to keep things going, as eventually there wouldn't even be much of a need for any strategic or logistic planning. They'd intellectually descend to the level of sheep just like the ones they're dictating. At this point, neither would have any dose of reality or free-will, they'd just be slaves of 'big-brother,' the political ideology would be more like a religion rather than a tool of the ruling elite, who might understand that B.B. isn't 'real' in some sense, but also realize the ideological concept is relating to their well-being and they may actually start to believe it exist. What happens from here when nobody is intelligent enough to understand reality? Are the scientist here still intelligent? Or do we have a 'Time-Machine' like scenario, or even one comparable to Warhammer 40,000?

    In the Ministry of Love, how exactly is the rule of prisoners barely being allowed to move an inch enforced? 

  • Is it because they've just been that cowed by this point that they'll obey when a voice shouts at them? That would be a bit understandable, but given that they're regularly being tortured with electric shocks, beatings, and whatever else Big Brother can come up with, it's not like they have a lot to lose.
    • Truth in Television, really. History contains many ethnic cleansing efforts, the Holocaust not least among them, where the victims had nothing left to lose and could at least have tried to overwhelm the guards prodding them along towards the mass graves by sheer weight of numbers — and yet didn't. Being beaten, half-starved, unarmed, untrained in combat, and thoroughly intimidated generally is enough to prevent even desperate prisoners from rioting. And when it's not? That's what guard towers and heavy machine guns are for.
      • Well, that makes sense. The other question, though: Supposing a prisoner did defy the voice and move around after being warned. They can't kill them yet, that defeats the whole point of the Ministry. Another round of beatings on the spot?
      • Yes. Another round of beatings. Another shock. Another stoolie.
    • For the same reason that Hope is the one thing that didn't escape from Pandora's jar. Bullfinch put it as "while we have that, no amount of other ills can make us completely wretched." The Ministry of Love exists to break people entirely — people held there have nothing to lose, but they're also at the point where they see nothing to gain. The only thing they're capable of hoping for is to hold the next atrocity off a little longer.
    • Orwell gives another good reason in the book itself, by drawing a pointed contrast between the rowdy prole prisoners and the docile Party ditto. The latter have been just that well trained to obey, to not draw attention to themselves, to work within the system — they almost literally can't rebel.
      • Also there's less 'polits' than prole prisoners, since the Outer Party only makes up about 10%-ish of the population, so it's not too hard to keep an eye on them.

    He Who Fights Aristocrats 

  • Aren't the Inner and Outer party becoming an aristocracy? Evidence seems to suggest that children remain with their families (i.e. the family in Winston's building), and there is mention of any too intelligent child within the proles being assassinated — i.e. there is no promotion from the proles to the party. If this is the case, and the aristocracy will 'soon' (by 2050 or something) be speaking a different language (Newspeak versus Oldspeak), isn't that just asking for the proles to rebel against their overlords?
    • Well, when Winston is out observing the Proles, he seems to think they're pretty much apathetic to the idea of overthrowing the Party. The government keeps them stupid and pacified, isn't nearly as overt with the oppression, and freely uses its manipulation of the media to keep all resentment and hatred focused on the enemy du jour. As Winston notes, if the Party ever were to be toppled, the rebellion would have to involve the Proles to a significant degree, but it doesn't seem particularly likely to happen in the near future.
    • Yes, an aristocracy is exactly what they're becoming. Part of Orwell's anti-communist message was that, in time, the communist party becomes exactly like the oppressors they overthrew if not worse. This is even more clear in Animal Farm, which ends with the pigs walking, talking, and acting in exactly the same manner as the farmers they overthrew.
      • You're sort of correct. It's not strictly anti-communist though, it's anti-Leninist. Specifically it's an attack on Lenin's "Vanguard Party" concept. Basically authoritarianism is anti-ethical to most communist and socialist thinkers, including Orwell. However, Lenin believed that the uneducated peasants of Russia couldn't be trusted under a democratic communist state because they were... Well, uneducated. Communism prior to Lenin was post-capitalist, relying on capitalism's ability to create a large, better-educated and dissatisfied population. The Vanguard Party was a means of trying to "skip" capitalism and socialism and move directly to communism, which Orwell disliked for the reasons you describe.
      • That... Is a complete misunderstanding of the concept of a vanguard party. Also, according to Marxism there is no such thing as a 'democratic communist state' because 1: Democracy is a form of state, and 2: Communism is stateless. A vanguard party is a party of revolutionists who understand their political theory, are willing to take power, and are organised and disciplined in a pseudo-military fashion, and was considered by Lenin to be necessary in all countries. This was because Lenin considered the 'normal' ideology of the working class to be democratic trade-unionism, and so one couldn't just count on the working class to spontaneously come to accept socialism, but that a dedicated party of propagandists would be necessary to win it over. What is to be Done? aside, however, the view of history presented in the book is anti-communist: The upper class rule society and are eventually overthrown by the lower class under the leadership of the middle class. Through differentiation among the middle class and fusion with some elements of the former upper class, a new upper class is formed, and the new middle class struggles to gain power, again seeking to use the lower class in that effort. While one could say that the Leninist vanguard party is here the understood to be the 'conscious' element of the middle class, and that this is therefore a specifically anti-Leninist screed, what is actually being said is that there is no hope for a classless society because from every revolution a new ruling body, a new 'upper class' will form and we will end up back at square 1.
      • 1984 was actually written against Stalinism, not Marxist-Leninism, as well as Totalitarianism in general, not communism or socialism; Orwell was a vocal Socialist (Trotskyist if memory serves correctly) and wished to speak out against the betrayal that was post-Lenin USSR as well as the dangers of sticking too closely to a single ideology. Even the main page states this... But yes, Oceania always was an aristocracy. At least, it has been ever since the Inner Party took over.
    • Yes and no. By systematically removing from the Prole population all people who possess any degree of intelligence or ambition, you remove the flashpoints for any potential rebellion. One of the points that is made by the book is that the "Low" NEVER actually rebel on their own accord. They are driven to rebel by dissatisfied members of the "Middle," who have the organisational skills to arrange a successful revolution. By assimilating all nascent "Middles" into the "High" before they start chafing at their oppression, the Party ensures that the cyclical replacement of the "High" by the "Middle" will never occur, because the "Middle" will not actually exist as a group — only the "High" and the "Low." Strange as it may seem, the world of 1984 is actually a meritocracy in many ways.
      • The book made clear that people is assigned to his/hers social class according to intelligence. Problem is, most Proles probably have dumb children due to the way their live (almost non education, bad alimentation, etc.) whilst Inner Party children probably live better and therefore would have more possibilities to staying there. The “middle class” that are the Outer Party are probably the ones with more social mobility with some smart children been ascended to Inner and some dumb children downgraded to Prole, maybe some very especial Prole children can become Outer Party and some very dumb Inner Party member’s children be downgraded to Outer Party but the extreme (a Prole-by-birth becoming Inner Party) been very unlikely (yet not impossible)
      • The Inner Party is fully ready to recruit their whole next generation among proles if that's what it takes to perpetuate itself. It's in the book.
      • Until the "High" start fighting among themselves, at which point all bets are off. A social system that looks uncrackable and perfectly stable now may fall apart entirely after a few generations, because sooner or later the people in charge will find a reason to start mucking with the way things are running for the sake of selfish Power.
      • The interesting thing about doublethink is that the "High" in this case may be trained to prevent just that. The terrifying amount of self-delusion necessary to be in the Inner Party, is, well, terrifying.
      • See, that makes it even more likely to fall apart. Terrifying amounts of self-delusion leads to becoming Too Dumb to Live.
      • Isn't it implied in the afterword that falling apart is exactly what happened?
      • No. It's an appendix, not an epilogue. If Orwell had wanted to say Ingsoc collapsed he'd have said it, not implied it in an incredibly vague way. Don't listen to critics desperately looking for something to write.
    • Isn't this already Word of God itself?
    • O'Brien also explicitly states that in the future children will be taken from their parents.

    The Ministry of Love is the Greatest Threat to Itself 

  • Think about the ministry of love for a second. It's a group of sociopaths who are high enough up in the system to know both the cynical inner workings of Oceania, recognize that the war is an inconsequential farce (since they are implied to have written the Goldstein's book) and would be the first to know where any potential blind spots the state might have would be. And at the same time most of the people in the Ministry of Love would have to be low enough to recognize they could dramatically improve their own station in life by going outside the system. Wouldn't that just make the Ministry of Love the most potent danger to the party leadership? Maybe that's why Mini Love's real life counterpart, the NKVD and its successor KGB, turned out to be a major power player in the Soviet Union after Stalin died (though ultimately one that had to deal with countless other factions within the government).
    • How do we know that they don't do that? There are no laws, after all; from the description of O'Brien the highups already take everything that's available. It would fit relatively well within the system as it's described.
    • Going by the NKVD under Stalin, the Secret Police tended to suffer periodic purges that wiped out nearly all the higher-ups followed by restaffing with more 'pliant' (read: terrified and submissive) replacements, likely for just this reason. It wouldn't surprise me if every few years the Thought Police finds itself doing a bit of 'house cleaning' in regards to its membership, with a large proportion of them enjoying the same tender treatment Winston was given.
    • One of the book's major themes is the idea that the entire bureaucracy is controlled via "doublethink;" a systematic method of self-brainwashing that every person who is even vaguely intellectual is conditioned to apply virtually from birth. The premise of doublethink is that it allows one to "know" one thing, while "believing" something entirely at odds with it, and that one has the ability to automatically and unconsciously modify what one knows and believes at will. O'Brien might "know" the truth about how the world works, but he "believes" that everything he tells Winston is a carefully constructed lie in order to utterly and thoroughly break everything Winston is.
    • This is kinda the point of Syme; Winston notes early on in the book that he's too smart, that he's too clear a thinker, and as such he predicts fairly easily and correctly that he'll be eliminated. It's Parsons turning up at Mini Love that shocks him.
      • And in the end it turned on itself. The result in USSR was that the Secret Police was not an organization of well-honed, cold, efficient and ruthless officials, but rather an inefficient, incompetent, crude and horribly bureaucratic system which had difficulties even dealing with street punks. The years of purges, in-fighting, distrust and backstabbing had effectively eliminated all dedicated, ambitious, efficient and intelligent officials and left only unimaginative bureaucrats, Punch-Clock Villains, apparatschiks more efficient in office politics than actual professional work and dullards promoted not for merits but loyalty. "Doublethink" works only if everyone else is willing to buy the lie; and assume that the lies are not used against oneself. To have such organization function efficiently requires high degree of cooperation; and such atmosphere of psychopathy demolishes quickly any cooperativeness. The result was that in 1953 USSR had to dispense NKVD and found a new organization, KGB, instead.
  • Ing Soc is a system where individuals mean nothing, they want to eradicate the individual, leave only the party - Big Brother isn't even around anymore, I doubt most people even know who runs things at the top, there may not even be a single top. In the end, the goal is a stable system, one that rights itself when it wobbles, not one that never wobbles. It doesn't matter if some people exploit the system, or the thoughtpolice abuse their power, or someone hacks a telescreen, or Room 101 doesn't break someone, those are all wobbles. The system appears decentralized and localized enough that if one part messes up, they can just liquidate it and start over. If London goes off kilter, carpet bomb it, throw up some shacks with slave labour, start again. The horror isn't just about Winston not being able to do anything, it's that even if he did, what happened to him on the personal level could be carried out on the local level, no area could resist the whole. So, even if some corruption could escalate, there is always a way to reright the system - something hard to come to terms with is just how much Ing Soc doesn't care about any individual or personhood, wiping an area and covering it up is something they could do easily, remorselessly, and totally.
    • Individuals do mean something to Ingsoc: They mean enemies, so it is a big problem if people exploit the system or the though police abuse their power. And the point is that these problems are systemic i.e., they'd be everywhere, and the Party has no realistic answer to them. At best they'd be playing whack-a-mole with whole territories and in constant civil war, because if it's decentralized, carpet bomb London on who's authority, and with whose planes, and who reports on another area's corruption?. "Too Big To Fail" is a philosophy that has killed just as many governments as it has businesses, and it was the one of the Soviet Union and Red China ascribed to at the time

    If the state was destroying all means for people to even think about dissenting from the system, wouldn't it only be a matter of time before the system wiped out a concept that was necessary for the state to function? 

  • Say they decided to get rid of the concept of quantum superposition because they don't like the idea that Big Brother doesn't know where his electrons are (which the Nazis actually did try). Now that might not sound important until you realize that the concepts used to design and maintain televisions hinges on concepts like quantum superposition. And guess what Oceania's Ministry of Love depends on.
    • Doublethink. Either that or the factories precisely engineering warships and aircraft have accommodated the rule that 2+2=5 surprisingly well.
    • Goldstein's book discusses this — the scientific method is kept alive only to aid tyranny and war. It's this troper's opinion that the best source for an internal revolt would be a disgruntled scientist at the Ministry of Peace.
    • This is actually addressed in the book, when O'Brien says that it wouldn't be beyond the Party to have a dual system of astronomy where stars are small points of fire a few thousand miles away and other suns, depending on which explanation is more useful to the purposes of the Party. A similar dual system of physics could easily be adopted where quantum superposition exists when designing equipment in which it's a significant factor but doesn't exist at any other time.
    • Hmmm. If there's one type of person on Earth who's most comfortable with believing mutually incompossible things, that would have to be quantum physicists. Particles that are waves, Schrödinger's Cat which is everywhere and nowhere, anyone? Every quantum physicist needs to be a doubleplusgood doublethinker.
    • This is a serious weak point for most ideological states. What Jacques Barzun called "the practical ideology of results" is sometimes incompatible with state ideology and its Appeal to Force. One of the Soviet Union's causes for its famines is its suppression of applying Genetics in creating healthier crops, in favour of the blatantly unscientific Lysenkoism. The Nazis kicked Jewish scientists such as Albert Einstein out and look on the massive advantage the United States gained. The only country to have managed to get a state ideology and engineering to coexist was Japan in the Meiji Restoration; Oceania has failed to do so, and so their ideology is as doomed as Stalin's and Mao's — either they'll economically collapse like the USSR, or abandon their ideology like China, or collapse from a sort of moral and intellectual dry rot like Bourbon France. (My money's on the third of these possibilities. If the other two totalitarian world-states also exist, 2050 in Orwell's timeline is going to be extremely "interesting times.")
      • And since Ingsoc is basically the same as the other states' ideologies aside from the name, there's a pretty good chance they'll collapse as well. Perhaps even around the same time!
    • I like to imagine that the Party absolutely will collapse under the weight of its own nonsense someday. It just doesn't happen within the timeframe of this book.

    Winston Was Right in that Julia is a member of the Thought Police. 

  • Does anyone else wonder whether Julia was in on the plot to capture Winston? It seems slightly unbelievable that a pretty young woman would be interested in him or willing to take such risks when realistically there's only one outcome. There's nothing she says or does that couldn't have been planned with O'Brien beforehand. We only have her word for it that she went to the Ministry of Love and no longer loves him; the whole arrest at their love nest could have been staged.
    • Kinda the point of the book: Winston cannot trust anything he sees or hears, because anything could be a setup by the Thought Police.
    • Julia says: "They got to me long ago." (Either her or somebody says it about her; it's been a while) It makes sense that way. Julia is an agent for the Thought Police who lures men like Winston into traps so they can be captured and so on. Although it does seem odd that they would keep the façade up as long as they did, instead of grabbing Winston right away.
      • No, O'Brien says that about himself. Nothing in the book indicates that Julia is anything but exactly what she seems to be — and given that she serves an important role within the story as that person, it's likely that Orwell intended her that way.
      • They wanted him to become comfortable and happy in his new life first. All the better to break him, when he discovers his supposed friend and lover were his enemies all along.
      • But he doesn't discover that. As stated above, it is O'Brien that states that, not Julia. It is never hinted that Julia is a spy.

    1984 = A case of Too Good For That Bastard? 

  • It has really good ideas and the odd scene is well written, but the rest of it is very poorly executed. Goldstein's book is dire, the so-called love scenes even worse. At one point Winston says he thought about raping and murdering Julia. Rather than think he's a freak and flee, she laughs merrily? What on earth?
    • The culture of Oceania is so vile that even the protagonists are not good people. Who would teach them to be, really? They are the protagonists because they struggle against ultimate evil, but if they were suddenly transplanted to a lighter setting, they might well be villains. That is more realistic than having them express utterly western values and perfect psychological health.
    • Julia probably had the same thoughts herself about other people. Think about how repressed these people are (the only emotions they are allowed to show are adoration for Big Brother, permanent enthusiasm for the Party line, and hatred for enemies of the Party; also sex for pleasure is forbidden). If Winston sees Julia every day and knows he can't have her, on top of living in constant fear, it's bound to cause him to have some, er, unhappy thoughts. Julia has probably been told the same thing by other Party members she's had trysts with.
      • There's also only one two minute period in every day that these people are allowed to express any kind of physical outburst of genuine emotion; whilst officially it's supposed to be about hating Goldstein, in practice it's pretty clearly a vent for all of those other little repressed thoughts and feelings that they feel about everything (including their government and situation), even if they don't fully understand them. Winston first expresses his desire to rape and murder Julia during a Two Minute Hate, so it seems pretty clear that what he's actually expressing is the intense physical attraction and desire to sleep with her that he feels but is unable to articulate in any other way except this moment of permitted rage.
      • The book actually says, during the Two Minutes Hate, "the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one subject to another," either voluntarily or involuntarily. Winston's hate is momentarily directed towards the Party and Big Brother, then an instant later he feels great adoration for Big Brother and deep loathing for Goldstein, and then he exerts a "violent effort" to direct his hate towards Julia (and has the rape/murder fantasies).
    • Not at all. Goldstein's book is actually one of the more interesting parts of the novel. 1984 is literature; it is more concerned with exploring and presenting political, economic, and societal themes and ideas than with entertaining, and Orwell does what he sets out to do (discuss his ideas) very well.
      • The chapter featuring Winston reading Goldstein's book was the worst part of the whole novel. Even one of the characters fell asleep by the end of it. Dumping your political ideals in a big Author Tract rather than subtly interlacing them with the narrative — something which Ayn Rand is so rightfully criticized for — is the worst form of literary exposition. 1984 is a novel, not an essay; it should entertain and inform in equal measures. And the fact is, this section was dreadfully boring. There is no discussion of ideas; it is just a man reading another man's essay. Only the most deluded Fan Dumb would say otherwise.
      • But it was a good essay!
      • Remember that Tropes Are Not Bad — even the Author Tract can be a worthwhile storytelling tool if it's written in an interesting manner or if it contains interesting ideas. It didn't interest you, obviously, but that doesn't make the reader who did find it interesting to be Fan Dumb. It should also be noted that one of the key criticisms of Ayn Rand isn't just her use of the Author Tract, but the sheer length of them — say what you will about Goldstein's essay, it takes up a lot less of the book than John Galt's speech.
      • The information in Goldstein's book was interesting, the problem is it goes on forever and stops the story dead in its tracks. There's no reason joining the Brotherhood had to entail reading a book, and the information and world building in it was have been better suited to the appendix, like the essay on newspeak.
      • Maybe I'm the only one, but I found the book to be very entertaining as a political/psychological thriller. I was fortunate enough to not have had the ending spoiled, and was always curious where the story was going. The Party made for an endlessly mysterious, frightening villain. The revelations later on, such as Mr. Charrington and O'Brien being members of the thought police, were among the most shocking plot twists I've ever seen, because I was so convinced of the prior relationship they appeared to have with Winston and actually thought of them as almost my own friends. It was one of the few "great" works of literature I've read where I really came to be involved in the story and the characters.
      • I thought the Goldstein part was excellent. It pulls back the curtain and reveals more of the inner workings of the dystopia. I didn't find it boring at all. And it serves the plot too, because Orwell's point is that Winston can know all these things and yet they still aren't enough to save him in the end. The Party is so powerful that it kills not only people, but ideas. Even an enlightened man can be gaslit into submission again. It's a truly frightening notion.
    • Nineteen Eighty-Four is technically a novel, but it could arguably be considered the novelization of an essay. For example: Winston writes about a fictionnal "comrade Oglivy", then he somehow has the "conviction" that his article will be picked, so we can be told that a dead person has just been created - which was the point Orwell really wanted to make. Why Winston would believe this is irrelevant. Lots of scenes are similarly used to make a point: Syme talking about Newspeak, "freedom is freedom to say 2+2=4", the Hate Week, etc. Goldstein's book is merely Orwell dropping the allegories for a plain Info Dump.
    • The whole point of Oceania is that it's completely fucked up as a society, especially concerning sex, which is naturally going to result in some rather fucked up people living in it.
    • Discussion of the literary merits of the novel aside, Winston's internalized hatred toward Julia (and Party women in general) is acceptably believable. It is within human nature to hate and resent what we desire but cannot have, and the Party is denying people that which is fundamentally human — sex, love, family, security, individuality, sometimes even basic needs like proper food and shelter. Winston's reaction to Julia is made vicious by the pitiful, juvenile form it takes, but that sort of immature response is to be expected in a population that has been emotionally and intellectually stunted, with group psychology geared toward violence and anger as the only acceptable outlets. If anything, Orwell was showing his readers how inhumane the Party members have become, a fact Winston himself comments on later on in the novel. ("We are the dead.")

    Room 101 is not foolproof. 

  • One of the keys to Ingsoc's success is that it doesn't let anyone become a Doomed Moral Victor, making sure they're broken and changed, rather than dying embracing their ideals. So, what happens when that doesn't work? In real life or fiction, some people just don't break, or at least don't break in a way that's at all useful to maintaining their control. They can cover it up like they cover up everything, but that only goes so far. They may be able to survive the first time they end up with a prisoner, like, say, V... But what about the tenth? Or the twentieth? Or the hundredth?
    • I think it's mentioned somewhere that some people just never come back. If even repeated trips to Room 101 aren't enough, the defiant prisoner is probably liquidated. For the sake of the society, they probably would have to give some prisoners the satisfaction of being an unsung martyr, as they can't release the person back into the population at large. One also has to remember people that disappear into the Miniluv are quickly forgotten about. Also, the society has done an efficient job of quelling such tendencies quite well, as the proles can be quickly subdued, and the lower party members are sufficiently cowed.
    • The book operates with the premise that, with sufficiently advanced torture/psychology/brainwashing techniques, EVERYONE breaks eventually. You may disagree with this idea, but it is what is canon in the book. The whole Miniluv ride breaks one's body and mind, and Room 101 is the coup de grace on the soul. As O'Brien says "pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable — something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed." According to 1984, everyone has a "worst thing in the world," and everyone will, when confronted with it in Room 101, be willing to betray everything they hold dear in order to avoid it.
      • That doesn't work on psychopaths. They just don't fear anything, even if they should really do. So the only way to deal with them is, in fact, liquidation. Or promotion to the Inner Party.
      • Psychopaths aren't robots. They try to avoid pain and discomfort like every other sentient being.
      • Though that does bring up a good point. We tend to view psychopaths as serial killers, but when you get right down to it psychopathic serial killers are failed psychopaths. Psychopaths don't have the normal inhibitions against lying or cheating or causing harm to other people like you or me. Which, if they keep their wits about them, allows them to reach pretty high rank in modern society (this isn't a joke or social critique — it's just something that happens). None of the non-torture methods of control would work on a psychopath and said psychopath would have no problem exploiting others. Psychopaths also have a tendency to abandon ship whenever something bad might happen to them. In fact, random chance would suggest that eventually you would get the leaders of the party would all be psychopaths, something bad happens, and they all turn tail to save themselves (since they don't follow the indoctrination of the party-above-all-else). Free society might be recreated by psychopaths. How delicious.
      • Keep in mind that we only have O'Brien's word for things like Room 101 always working. He would logically want Winston to believe their methods always work even if they don't. All the Party's statements about the capabilities of the Ministry of Love and the Thought Police should be taken with skepticism. Remember, they've elevated having no respect for the truth to a philosophy and they would have every reason to want to make the people believe the Ministry of Love and the Thought Police are more formidable than they actually are.
      • But, isn't the Inner Party made up of psychopaths?
      • Psychopaths aren't superhuman (quite the opposite in fact); they still feel pain. They still bleed. They still generally tend to have self-preservation instincts. They're only human and have their breaking points; you starve, sleep-deprive and torture them long-enough, you'll probably break them down sufficiently at some point. In any case, it's hardly that great a dilemma for the Party; you get a psychopath in Room 101 and all-else fails, you just shoot them in the head and have done with it. Not like they're squeamish or gonna go "Oh go on, you win," and let them go or anything.
    • Read Solzhenitsyn: Some people do indeed resist this sort of breaking, and can fake being broken — especially those with strong religious or ideological beliefs. Knight Templar terrorist campaign, anyone?
      • Those people are, by and large, exceptionally rare, though. And, of course, the whole point of Oceanian society is that it's set up precisely to make sure that as few people as possible, if anyone, holds any kind of strong religious or ideological beliefs which would enable them to resist this kind of control, except for love of the Party and Big Brother.
      • Keeping on mind that Party insists keeping proles on poverty, misery and squalor, it would be a self-defeating strategy. Such conditions only breed religiosity and religious fanaticism - if the earthly life is miserably enough, the pie in the sky is far more appealing.
  • According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the ones who survived best the Gulag were the religious people, especially religious fanatics: they considered surviving the torture as challenge and religious vocation rather than extreme discomfort or tragedy. The religious conviction was the strongest indicator of one's chance of survival. Religious fanatics could be killed but not broken since they considered themselves dead already and getting killed as victory on martyrdom. The next most likely to survive were professional criminals as they knew how to game the system. Most likely to perish were innocent pedestrians like Winston Smith.
  • How in the world does Room 101 work? It contains the prisoner's worst fear, sure, but what if they are deathly afraid of, say, robots? Would the Party have to design a robot specifically for this one task, which is inefficient and pretty darn stupid? Or if the prisoner is afraid of an abstract concept, like an infinite void? Again, would the Party's best scientists get to work breaking the laws of reality to fit an infinite void inside a tiny room? It's an infinite drain on the Party's supplies to not just shoot them and be done with it. Of course, this would lead to their eventual downfall, but it's not like they've made any bones about doing things that can easily fall apart and rely on nobody in the future ever being defiant. And what if somebody is very, very good at pretending? If I were a profiler or something to that effect, could I trick the Thought Police that I were deathly afraid of fluffy kittens? Again, the Party relies on totally unrealistic odds, to the point where I'm surprised they haven't been taken down yet. They could have, of course, without us knowing, but still.
    • Mitchell and Webb did a sketch on this where a Miniluv employee admits that he has constantly made his fear of "beer" very well known.
    • How can a person be afraid of something they don't know? More to the point: In the Orwellian dystopia, how would anyone know about robots? It seems that imagination in general is not stimulated, so everyone having mundane and concrete fears are not "unrealistic odds." Even if they don't, the Party doesn't have to create a literal infinite void, just create the feeling of one (granted anyone would even know what an infinite void feels like or know what the heck is it to be afraid of). As for pretending... Given the way the world works in 1984, that would be one heck of an "unrealistic odd." Isn't the book exactly about a guy who thinks he can fool the system? Doesn't the Party always know more about you than you think?
      • Well, yes, I suppose they might not know about the thing they're afraid of, but what happens to people who just aren't afraid of rats, buzz-saws, needles and the like? Are they just shot? Or what if they're so unbelievably stoic that the desired effect will not be reached before it becomes a strain on resources? Are they shot, too? Also, I believe in the book some form of autonomous war machine used against Eurasia is mentioned, though I might be wrong. Also, Winston was apparently around before the Party... So, what if he and people of similar age to his are still afraid of the same things that they were growing up? Granted, it worked against Winston in his case, but there's a lot of people in England who are 40.
      • Very, very few people are completely unafraid of absolutely everything. In most cases, they'll find something. And frankly, very few people are stoic enough and have sufficient mettle to be unafraid of being cut to pieces by a bloody great buzz-saw. As for being afraid of things you were when you were growing up, fears and phobias tend to form in childhood and linger; if you have a bad experience with rats in your childhood, then the psychological trauma is more likely to hang around throughout your life and give you a fear of rats in adulthood. And yeah, in the unlikely event that all else fails and absolutely everything they do to try and break this person completely fails in the face of this person's superhuman stoicism, they probably are just shot. This is a totalitarian regime, after all, it's not like they're above that sort of thing.
      • Besides, it’s not only phobias that they explode in the Room 101, or at least that’s the impression I had when I read the book. They used rats on Wilson because that was particularly his thing, but that’s not necessary the standard. As for example, I was under the impression (but this could be a WMG) that they used something sexual on Julia, like the treat of rape or maybe rape itself. Someone’s worst nightmare is not always a phobia.
      • WMG: The party deliberately conditions people to develop crippling phobias they can exploit later. Orwell's choice of rats for Winston's phobia could be an allusion to the Little Albert study.
  • What if an extremely masochistic Nightmare Fetishist ended up in the Ministry of Love?
    • Room 101 is not about pain. They'll find something.
    • Why, though? Despite what they would like you to think, the Party are not omnipotent. They cannot succeed every time. Why do we assume that they can?
    • Because the point is that they can. Because everyone has a fear, a phobia, a breaking point. Because it's a universal part of the human condition. The Party don't need to be omnipotent to find someone's breaking point; they just have to torture, study and manipulate them long enough. Everyone likes to think they'd be the one who's tough enough, willful enough, brave enough or strong enough to withstand such torture and psychological manipulation; Orwell's point is is simply nah, you're not and you wouldn't.
  • Personally, if Room 101 doesn't come across as completely foolproof, I think it's because it isn't completely foolproof. Like another troper mentioned above, we only have O'Brien's word that it is, and he and the party would naturally benefit from having a prisoner believe that to be the case to make their struggle seem all the more hopeless. It's the same thing with the rest of the diabolical machinery that is Oceania, Ingsoc, and Big Brother and the other two superpowers: Of course O'Brien would claim that it'll last forever and is invulnerable to any attempts to subvert or overthrow it — what megalomaniacal totalitarian wouldn't? There may very well be vulnerabilities that will eventually cause the whole thing to collapse on itself, but for now The Party doesn't want anyone, including themselves, to even contemplate them. This is assuming that the world even looks the way the Party, and Goldstein's book, says it does — for all we know, Oceania is composed solely of the British Isles existing in isolation and Eurasia and East-Asia don't even exist. In the end, the book is the story about Winston Smith's personal journey in a terrifying world, we see everything from his perspective and almost everything he knows comes in some way from the propagandists of the Party. There are probably billions of other potential stories in the world of 1984, and any of them might turn out very differently, perhaps even better.
  • Ing Soc isn't about individuals, that is the horror of the piece, truly, the individual is removed, we just see it from an individuals perspective. If a part of your machine starts to malfunction, you repair it, if that fails, you toss it in the rubbish and get another - you don't spend anytime agonizing over the broken part, or even caring for the new one, you only care for the machine as a unit. The party is similar, they only care for the entire apparatus - if Room 101 fails, then toss the person in the rubbish and move on; odds are the person is already forgotten by everyone outside anyways, it's not like anyone sees them not get broken - if it is really that important, though, just print a fake news story (and, I assure, these people aren't ending up in the news anyways, it would be far simpler to just make up fake cases wholecloth, who would know, who could even fact check it, and who would dare to?). In the end, Room 101 works not because it breaks every person, but because it is the end of a process that always gives the same result to the society in the large scale, the specifics of any single case are not important to the system implementing all of this.
  • Room 101 is completely foolproof. Every human being that has ever existed that has gone into Room 101 has broken. No one has ever existed that could resist Room 101. I do not remember them. You do not remember them. They do not exist. Nor have they ever existed.

    Winston knew the Brotherhood never helps its members, yet he assumes they do. 

  • Okay, when he is first captured, Winston takes some solace from the following idea: "O'Brien might know that he had been arrested. The Brotherhood, he had said, never tried to save its members. But there was the razor blade; they would send the razor blade if they could. There would be perhaps five seconds before the guard could rush into the cell. The blade would bite into him with a sort of burning coldness, and even the fingers that held it would be cut to the bone." However, back when he was talking to O'Brien with Julia, O'Brien explained that "When finally you are caught, you will get no help. We never help our members. At most, when it is absolutely necessary that someone should be silenced, we are occasionally able to smuggle a razor blade into a prisoner's cell." How did Winston make the mental leap from "when it is absolutely necessary that someone should be silenced" to "they send the razor to everyone they can?" Surely he must know that he isn't important enough to need silencing; he had yet to do anything at all as part of the Brotherhood and knows only another newbie member (Julia), Martin, and O'Brien. Of course, this is because he wasn't in the real Brotherhood, if it exists, but he didn't know that at the time. Was he just too nervous to think straight?
    • I assume he was just grasping at straws.
    • He was probably so desperate for some sort of anti-Party group to exist that, even near the end, he still clung to the hope that he just might be rescued.

    Real-Life Soviet Russia doesn't care about what impotent schmucks think. 

  • How did the Thought Police know Winston would specifically head into Mr. Charrington's shop? And why do they even bother wasting so much time and energy spying on and playing elaborate games with such an impotent schmuck for seven years? He was absolutely no political threat. Another thing: Thoughtcrime. Everything that I've read about Communist regimes like Soviet Russia says that they don't actually care if you believe state propaganda or not, as long as you pretend to, one author going as far as to say that it isn't *supposed* to be believed: Forcing citizens to repeat what they know to be lies is great a way to humiliate and demoralize them. In this sense, I think the book fails as a satire.
    • I am pretty sure they didn't know Winston would head into that particular shop; they rather just keep the shop open and see which party member drops by with unorthodox intentions. As for thoughtcrime, O'Brien does a rather lengthy explanation of the party's philosophy regarding this and why it is superior to the tactics of their communist and nazi predecessors; just re-read this chapter. Also, 1984 isn't satire; unlike with Animal Farm, the party isn't supposed to be directly analogous to a then-present day totalitarian regime, but is rather meant to represent the culmination of totalitarian regimes in general once they had achieved the perfection of their art.
      • And that theory that propaganda is just meant to humiliate the people who repeat it is unsubstantiated. The USSR really did want the citizenry to believe what they said.
      • I don't know which author OP had in mind. The better way to express it would probably be that even if you don't believe propaganda, it still affects you, if only on a moral level instead of intellectual. And if you're forced to agree with propaganda publicly, it does humanize and demoralize, what's more, it creates an intolerable gulf between self and self-perception as we as between self and all the others - and the easiest way to bridge that gap is in fact accept propaganda in thought as well as in deed. At least, that's what Bruno Bettelheim defined as "the psychological appeal of totalitarianism".
      • Propaganda is never made to be believed on its own merits. It's made to saturate all media to the point where you can't think without having it be a part of your mental landscape. Even if you know it's wrong, you still have it in your head. You think "I know for a fact that is wrong," but you still think that, like when you see an ad about an oil company pretending to go green. But if you see that enough times, you'll think of that by association with any part of the message.
    • Wasn't it implied that Charrington himself was an agent of the Thought Police? A keeper of things from the past that would be alluring to Outer Party members who want to go back to a time before the Party existed would be a perfect position for a Thought Police agent.
    • It is quite clear that Charrington was an agent of the Thought Police, and that his whole reason for being their was to push Winston along before finally setting the trap for him. As for why they would go to that effort, the central premise of the book is that the Party wishes to perpetuate its control through absolute control over the hearts and minds of every, single human being, to prevent their own collapse. Winston may be a random nobody, but if he is even capable of considering dissent, he needs to be utterly destroyed to prevent the possibility that his dissent might spread. To that purpose, the moment they get a hint that he might not be a total mind-slave, the Thought Police focus a greater amount of their time and resources learning absolutely everything about him, and manipulating every aspect of his life, so that, when the time comes, they will have everything necessary to systematically destroy him and wipe out the possibility that his existence will start any manner of dissent. They kill the plant before it even has an opportunity to take root.
      • And yet, in the spirit of doublethink, they crave dissent as much as they loathe it. The Party exists only for power, the only satisfaction they find legitimate, and without dissenters to torture they cannot truly exercise their power. If the Party ever achieved its stated goal of absolute control over the thoughts of all Oceania, it would lose its true reason for existing.
    • Cognitive dissonance. Maybe the people really do realize, on some level, that what they're being told is not true. However, they also know that if they don't act like they believe the lies, they'll be killed... At best. The "following lies" idea is dissonant with the "I'm a good person who only follows the truth" idea (which, I assume, most people hold). Now, this dissonance can be resolved in two ways: Stop pretending to follow the lies or rationalize to yourself that they aren't lies. Combined with the aforementioned "killed if you don't believe," it's pretty simple to see what the result is.
    • We mustn't confuse 60s, 70s 80s Soviet Union with 30s and 40s that Orwell was writing about. Stalinist purges were directed against Party members and educated people; ordinary non-political workers were largely left alone- just like the proles.

    God is Power 

  • This might just be from a revision conspiracy, but why does Winston write "God is Power" on the blackboard? Isn't the Party stronger than God? Something like that, at least.
    • The party is power. Thus the Party is God. QED.
    • In Room 101, O'Brien says "We are the priests of power. God is power." I think this means power is what the Party worships. They devote themselves to ever increasing the Party's power — not because they want to do something with that power, but for its own sake.

    Newspeak is not foolproof. 

  • The whole concept of Newspeak is flawed. What Newspeak basically is, it is just another agglutinative language - a language which has small corpus of words but where expressions are formed by using derivations, suffixes, prefixes, casi and affixes. Such Real Life languages include Japanese, Finnish, Turkish and Hungarian. Neologizing - creating new words for concepts with no descriptive words - is ridiculously easy in such languages. Merely restricting the corpus of words in a language does not impair its speakers' ability to express the concepts - it only channels the expressions to new directions. In fact, when 1984 was translated into Finnish, the translators had enormous difficulties to credibly explain the whole idea of Newspeak - Finnish language already follows the principles of Newspeak, but Finns have no difficulties whatsoever on finding expressions of their thoughts on their own language.
    • This exact paragraph was already posted further up the page. Why did you post it twice?
  • If he entire point of Newspeak is to make it impossible to express anti-party thoughts, what is there to stop someone saying: "Bigbrother watching is plus ungood bellyfeel" as a substitute for "being watched makes people feel uncomfortable"? Or to stop potential rebels from inventing their own meanings for words (or entirely new words) to communicate?
    • Oh, sure, you can make crude statements of fact like that, but you lack the vocabulary necessary to make a compelling argument. The Newspeak Appendix (which was also written by Orwell) observes "It would have been possible, for example, to say Big Brother is ungood. But this statement, which to an orthodox ear merely conveyed a self-evident absurdity, could not have been sustained by reasoned argument, because the necessary words were not available. Ideas inimical to Ingsoc could only be entertained in a vague wordless form, and could only be named in very broad terms which lumped together and condemned whole groups of heresies without defining them in doing so. One could, in fact, only use Newspeak for unorthodox purposes by illegitimately translating some of the words back into Oldspeak. For example, All mans are equal was a possible Newspeak sentence, but only in the same sense in which All men are red-haired is a possible Oldspeak sentence. It did not contain a grammatical error, but it expressed a palpable untruth-i.e. that all men are of equal size, weight, or strength. The concept of political equality no longer existed, and this secondary meaning had accordingly been purged out of the word equal." Read the appendix here. Making up words would be difficult. First of all, people prevent themselves from having unorthodox thoughts, via the principle of crimestop. Newspeak makes this process much easier. If someone creates a bunch of new words with new meanings, then teaching them to someone else is essentially teaching them a new language, with all the complications implied by that idea.
    • Mere lack of vocabulary is no hindrance of compelling argument in any Real Life agglutinative language. You simply form a descriptive word from existing stems and affixes. You could well say All mans are sameworthy to express the Oldspeak phrase all men are equal. (Real Life agglutinative languages, such as Finnish, actually work that way.)
      • Except that "worthy" wouldn't carry any connotation of abstract moral value. All such concepts have been erased, and the people who try to re-invent them get arrested. "All mans are sameworthy" would be interpreted as something like "All men are equally valuable to the Party", which would raise a counter-argument about how lazy and rebellious people are obviously lessworthy while productive and loyal people are obviously moreworthy, and thus "All mans are sameworthy" is obviously untrue. This isn't a problem in Finnish because the Finns have a concept of abstract moral value and they have words to express it. Now yes, even in Newspeak you could still get the idea across if you worked really hard...but the point is that you'd have to work really hard at it. It doesn't come easily. To make another example, suppose I visit some isolated island nation that has never seen a car, and then I try to describe cars to them in their native language. I can't just say "I own a car", because they have no word for "car". So I'd have to say "I own a large object which is made of metal and I go inside this object and when I tell the object to move, it moves in the way I want, but it remains on the ground, and it carries me along". See how cumbersome that is? And then imagine that there's a local version of the Thought Police that shows up to murder me as soon as they figure out that I'm describing a car, because cars are forbidden. The Party isn't making people speak Finnish, and Orwell is not trying to imply that Finns don't understand political equality. The Party is doing something else entirely.
      • As stated above, Orwell probably had no malice for the Finns, he just had his own worries about the real-life degredation of language and didn't speak Finnish. Removing certain keywords like "democracy" would actually probably make the Thought Police's job harder, because they'd have a harder time knowing exactly what concepts are forbidden, and would also be playing catch-up, having to pay close attention to everyone speaking instead of being able to pounce on someone as soon as the heard certain words.
    • This is a case of science marches on. Newspeak assumes the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true.
      • Partially. But it also has to do with the fact that we treat people who sound dumb as if they were. Which is more inspiring: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." or "All people should be like equal and stuff like in terms of how their treated by the law because that just makes sense, you know." ? Without the words to express what they're feeling, it becomes even harder to articulate those feelings in convincing ways. Newspeak isn't entirely about being unable for one person to rebel (which is the part which relies on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis), but on making it impossible for dissidents to gain followings.
    • I've been wondering about Newspeak for a little while now. Newspeak is supposed to be some sort of Restraining Bolt, right? Does Big Brother speak it? What language do they speak? English? How many people make up "Big Brother?" My point is, how many generations can the members of Big Brother (the oppressors, not the ones being oppressed) last before being forced to inbreed? They certainly can't have sex with the people being oppressed; if the Party had its way, the oppressed wouldn't even be able to form an articulate sentence, let alone speak the same language! This may or may not be Fridge Brilliance in that not only is dystopia difficult to maintain, but humans truly are bastards who only live for the moment with no thought whatsoever for the future.
      • No one makes up 'Big Brother', don't you see? And everyone will speak Newspeak. The point is that the current higher-ups are oppressing their own 'heirs', too. Before long no one will be able to think free thoughts. The goal is to turn the civilization into an anthill, with everyone happy to work blindly and blither out slogans.
      • And the High can certainly reproduce with whom ever they please. All you need is systematic rape and the removal of children from their mothers immediately upon birth.
      • With party membership running at about 10% of the population of — at post WW2 levels for Britain about 40 million — 4 million constitutes a more than adequate gene pool.
  • My major issue with 1984 is the linguistic stuff. Changing Oldspeak into Newspeak looks, at first glance, like a terrific way to abolish treasonous thoughts. The problem is that it would work too well — when fully and entirely implemented Newspeak wouldn't, at least as far as I can see, allow for the concept of treason itself. After all, that's the point. But what happens when someone does have a treasonous thought, even if it is only as crude as "Big Brother is ungood"? I acknowledge the above argument that it would simply be a palpable untruth, but disagree that such an idea can hold sway once Oldspeak is forgotten. Someone would concoct an idea which they were unable to express, and would proceed to find a new way to express it. That's how we created languages in the first place, after all. The thing is that as best I can tell nobody else would have the intellectual tools needed to criticize the new idea. They wouldn't even be aware that the idea could be ungood, in fact. The Party might never be overthrown, but it looks to me that it's inevitably going to collapse for this reason.
    • I tried convincing my English teacher this. Languages simply don't remain static, no matter how many annual dictionaries one publishes. Ungood will inevitably end up connotating the exact same thing as bad, due to natural semantic drift. Unfortunately, this lead to a prolonged discussion on cognitive linguistics in the middle of class that eventually got me sent out.
      • This is a semantic thing, but ungood does connotate the same thing as "bad." Replacing antonyms with "unX" isn't for political reasons, it just makes it easier to remember since you don't have to decide between the antonym and "not X." Besides, Newspeak isn't the only tool to make sure dissent doesn't happen. The Party is supposed to make sure culture never changes, and a part of culture is language.
    • I'd probably assume that Orwell gave a lot more credence to Language Equals Thought than it warrants (or at least the story itself does). As a note, the Book of the New Sun has a society clearly modeled on 1984 in terms of language, and their is a character who explicitly criticizes the government using their Newspeak-like language.
    • You have to remember, the party is still monitoring these people. It's much easier to detect whether someone is speaking out against big brother when they bluntly say: "I don't like big brother" then it is when they hide it through language.
    • The thing is, though, who would come up with a new idea? Newspeak makes is specifically incredibly difficult to come up with new ideas. You're only half right when you say language isn't static; in truth, culture as a whole isn't static, and language is just a reflection of culture. The thing is, though, that a helluva lot of the party's energy is spent making culture static. You only come up with new words for things when there's a new object or idea to describe. The party makes it incredibly difficult for the average Newspeaker to ever encounter a new scenario or object or idea, though. In the end, you can't come up for new words for things that don't exist. If there is no 'freedom', why come up with a word for 'freedom'? You won't notice its absence, you've never heard of or seen or experienced freedom before. To prove this point to a friend, this troper asked him to come up with a new color and name it. Of course he couldn't, because how do you come up with a new color? There are only the ones he's been using his whole life, and he's never needed any other ones, or felt their losses. It's true that if you don't have a word for 'dog' and then one day you encounter a dog, you'll need a word for it, but if the party keeps everything as static as the book implies it does, no one will ever see that dog, or that color, or that freedom that they don't have a word for.
      • But you yourself proved that you don't have to see something to know that it exists, at least on a purely theoretical level. Intellectually, you can conceive of the idea that there is a color that you've never seen and has never been named; just because you don't know what that color is, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Don't forget that Descartes managed to go a hell of a long way having started from nothing more than himself. Whether you agree with Descartes or not — and I sure as hell don't — you can see how little is actually needed for a thought to take root and grow into something huge — and more importantly, potentially subversive to the Party. I think Orwell would agree; my interpretation was that, as hard as the Party fights for control over the minds of its citizens, it has yet to learn that control is an illusion. There is absolutely no guarantee that the Party will be able to maintain control tomorrow just because it has it today; it will never be able to stomp out opposition completely, no matter how hard it tries, and the only way the Party can maintain control is if the people willingly give it to them.
    • Descartes, not having been raised in a sensory deprivation suite, was as much a product of a society and a culture as anyone else.
    • And Newspeak was just one prong of the Party's attack. There was also crimestop — people trained themselves to abandon lines of thought that looked like they were leading to thoughtcrime. And duckspeak — people were trained not to value rational argument, but to admire people who spoke without thinking. (Of all Orwell's inventions, duckspeak is the one that seems most chillingly familiar to me.) Both of these mean that, even if someone could articulate an argument against Ingsoc in Newspeak, nobody would be prepared to listen.
    • It's mentioned in the text and in the appendix that the target date for final adoption of Newspeak is 2050. Like much of the party's stated and unstated goals, I don't think the transition to Newspeak or the complete obliteration of Oldspeak was ever really intended by the party (just as total world domination would not serve the party's aims as well as perpetual war between three evenly matched rivals.) The degradation of the language inherent in the Newspeak project served the party, and Orwell cites how similar means were used in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany to enable control and obfuscate reality.
      • This Troper believes that Newspeak was never meant to replace English. But like the efforts to end families just part of the system. O'Brien even states that Goldstein's ideas would always be mocked and traitors would always be needed.
    • Isn't that the point though? The Party wants to control everything, but, if Hope in the Proles is well placed, they won't succeed. Newspeak would just be another futile attempt at power that ultimately can't last.
  • Anything which can be used, can be abused. The Newspeak would actually be an awfully powerful tool for neologizing - forming new words from stems and affixes - and given the fact how easy it is to neologize words in any Real Life agglutinative language, the Newspeak would be like handing a loaded gun to the dissident - no, woops, other-thinker. Abusing Newspeag against the Party would be all too easy.
    • I don't know if that was intentional or not, but in the aforementioned Finnish the word for "dissident"(toisinajattelija) is indeed otherwisethinker (toinen + -sin + ajattelija) when translated verbatim into English. Similarly, you might see an anti-Ingsoc person come up with concepts like samevalue (tasa-arvo, "equality"), controlundo (vallankumous, "revolution") and samecontrol (tasavalta, "republic"), at least assuming words like value and control exist in Newspeak (I guess they still would have to). Hell, since English in general and Newspeak in particular allow words to be used in any part of speech without having to modify them, any neologism could immediately fill any needed role in a sentence. Cue stuff like,
    "Otherwisethinkers bellyfeel that proles and all Party mans will samevalue in postcontrolundoera samecontrol Oceania.''note 
    • I think "otherwisethinkers" would get translated as "crazy people" or "evil people", since it's assumed that the Party is always right and anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy/evil. "Samevalue" would mean something like "having equal value to the Party". Meanwhile "postcontrolundoera" wouldn't easily imply an era where the Party has lost control, because the Party is supposed to last forever, so people would interpret it as meaning that something else has lost control in some way, e.g. if one of our enemies loses control over its territory. I think all this language stuff seems easy for us because we live in a more enlightened society. We can escape the trap because we've got the mental tools to do it. But the people of 1984 don't have those tools, because they've been thoroughly indoctrinated and intimidated.

    Outer Party members should be extinct. 

  • Parson, who's pretty much exactly what Ingsoc wants its Outer Party members to be, getting arrested makes the Party's setup make much less sense. He was arrested for something his daughter blatantly made up (if he was really saying "Down with Big Brother!" in his sleep wouldn't the Thought Police know that first). The standards for "orthodoxy" are already insanely high and if you can even get arrested for thoughtcrime just because your bratty, often party-obsessed kids says so, then wouldn't nearly everyone in the Outer Party get arrested eventually? By the end of the book every Outer Party member in more than one scene was liquidated (or would eventually be) or turned out to be an agent of the Thought Police, and that just doesn't add up considering the respective sizes of the Inner and Outer Party.
    • I think that's part of the point of the book. A totalitarian system has something on you no matter what. You can blindly follow the orders, or you can understand the system and love it, or you can rebel against it, outwardly or inwardly. In the end, it does not matter. It's always possible to come up with a crime you committed. Heck, the paranoia created by this is what keeps such systems alive.
    • I thought the implication was that Parson would probably get off lightly, as it'd be evident enough to the Thought Police that there was nothing they needed to do with him.
    • As for numbers adding up, in 1989 Stasi (the East German secret police) employed at least 174,000 informants, or about 2.5% of the population between the ages of 18 and 60. These are numbers from the surviving official records. Some estimates put the actual number of occasional informants as high as 2 millions, out of a population of 16 millions.
    • It's also worth noting that Real Life totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany encouraged kids to inform on their parents.
    • Personally, I thought that the point being made was that it didn't matter to the party if you were innocent or not. If there's any possibility of rebellion, they'd crush it. That in itself is a show of power.
    • I've always felt that Parson was indeed innocent. The Thought Police could easily use his arrest to say, for example: "He was a model citizen... On the outside. But on the inside? Just another filthy thoughtcriminal. And who knows how many other people are doing the same thing, using their devotion to the Party and Big Brother as a ruse to hide their anti-Party/B.B. sentiments?" Nothing inspires paranoia and increased diligence quite like thinking that there could be an enemy right around the corner.
    • I always got the impression that it had less to do with Parsons being a thoughtcriminal, or making an example out of him, as it was rewarding his children for turning on their parents - the book is showing us Ing Soc not that long after it started, Winston was around before the party, their real concern is with the future generations, which they can exert total control over. The party doesn't care about any person, it is meaningless that Parsons was "good" to the party. They are using people as tools to further their own end, "their" being the party as a thing itself; that is the true source of horror, that Parsons being a good party member gets him nothing, since he is nothing but a tool to reward the future generations even greater adherence — and I assure you, the party doesn't care about the future generation's individuals anymore, they only care about the future as a mass collection to stand on (that is the boot stamping thing). In the end, Parson's children's children will be encouraged to turn on their parents to be better followers; if they do, their parents will be destroyed, just like Parsons, if not, they will, probably, end up rejected and, eventually, destroyed alongside their parents, for some other reason. No case of any individual in the story matters, they are all just meaningless parts, easily swapped, easily destroyed. —A lot of the complaints on this page can be answered with this logic: the party doesn't care about individuals - if someone doesn't break, kill them; if someone rats on another, who cares if it is true, crush them; etc. I wouldn't be surprised if O'brien ended up in the same situation someday, the system is not one of individuals; it is a system that wants to rub out all of the individuals and give them as little as possible, only enough to fulfill their current role. Essentially, the goal is a machine that just keeps running and running.

    Why is there even a word for 'doublethink?' 

  • It shows that there *could* be another way of thinking. Wouldn't it be easier to ignore the fact that doublethink exists, so that people would do it without even knowing they do just that? Also, wouldn't people who use doublethink wrong (for example, believe things that they are not supposed to while trying to believe things that they should) constitute a subversive element even *against* their will?
    • The word for the other way of thinking is thoughtcrime. I think the Party would agree that it's quite possible to commit thoughtcrime against your will, and you must work hard training yourself at crimestop if you want to be a doubleplusgood doublethinker.
    • Actually, the word 'thoughtcrime' wouldn't exist in Newspeak, due to the elimination of 'thought'. The two forms of thinking would be 'goodthink' and 'crimethink'. Goodthink and doublethink would be synonymous. Of course, synonyms don't exist, but hey, that's doublethink for you.

    No An Heroism, anyone? 

  • Why don't they just commit suicide? They first disguise themselves emotionally (ala doublethink), walk up in the middle of the proles, and shout DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER in Oldspeak then kill themselves. There, you got an instant Doomed Moral Victor! Using doublethink for a while then suddenly fueling a mass conversation in public with the proles (that way, the thought police will have to capture all the proles who listened) and then killing oneself ala Socrates might also work. Also, suicide attacks. This troper believes that to die for something is better than to live for nothing. Why did nobody in Oceania care for the art of literal an heroism? (not the meme that means suicide in general, but suicide for the sake of personal idea).
    • They have an entire Ministry devoted to purging the memories of undesirables from history, Winston works there. You would be denounced as a Goldstein agent to those who saw it and then collectively purged from the records and memories until your death was completely and totally meaningless. As for suicide attacks, what would they use? Wilson could barely get his hands on a shaving razor, much less a bomb or a gun. How would he learn how to build one? Who would he attack? Everyone he knows or has access to is just as cowed and directionless as he is. To even contemplate the idea would expose him to arrest for thoughtcrime. Despite the modern rhetoric, martyrdom requires courage and strength of conviction, and Oceania is in short supply of both.
      • So, it's a very fatal situation of And I Must Scream.
      • It might not be possible to be a martyr that can be remembered, but they can commit suicide just for the heck of it. Winston mentioned buying razor blades. Oh, and there are prole buildings. After all, the proles are as free as animals ("Proles and animals are free.") Why didn't Winston commit suicide? (This Troper made a fitting situation via doublethink: "I'm alive!" and dies).
      • Winston believed there was a chance for more while he was still living free; committing suicide "for the heck of it" is not a winning strategy... though I wouldn't be surprised if suicide rates in the world of Airstrip One were higher than it mentions. After he's grabbed and thrown in prison, and gives up hope of anything better, we're told that he does grow to obsess over getting his hands on a razor blade and dying with the hate as one of a half dozen things his increasingly hopeless, fatigued, muddled thoughts keep around.
    • If the proles even care about a person's anti-Big Brother rhetoric (their conditioning is intended to make their likely reaction more along the lines of "sure, isn't that guy stupid for killing himself,") then they can easily be taken care of. Set of a bunch of bombs to wipe out anyone who may have witnessed the event, and blame it on enemy missiles. Problem sorted.
    • The proles are being conditioned just as much as the Inner and Outer Party members; except where the Party members are being conditioned to love Big Brother unconditionally, the proles are being conditioned to not give a single flying shit about politics, intellectualism or anything that might wake them up to realize that they're living in a decaying society. So, even if this theoretical martyr did manage to break through his conditioning long enough to do such a thing, the proles who saw it would not be lit up with revolutionary fervour, but would instead think something along the lines of: "huh, what a stupid dickhead," and start talking about their lotto strategies again.
  • Why do Winston and Julia think it's "unrealistic" to run away and live disguised as proles or commit suicide together? The book inadvertently shows that the telescreens are not as omnipresent as they are made out to be and the prole sector is pretty much left alone (only animals and proles are free) and lacks any telescreens, and how long does it take to die from slit wrists about two minutes! is the "Political system of Oceania so flawless and indestructible" (it isn't by the way most sociologists or economists can tell it's so unstable that it's only being held together by the stuff that keeps the Discworld up and running) that the thought police are so swift that they can realise what's going on get there in time to patch them up JUST SO THEY CAN EXECUTE THEM!!! in fact why would they, their suicide could be used for propaganda (thought crime leads to self destruction) so can someone tell why it's unrealistic!!!
    • Because that's what they've been trained to think and they haven't been able to cast off that conditioning in that time frame. Oceania, of course, is inevitably doomed as soon as anything even remotely unusual happens... But that's not the point :)
    • Party members and proles are so different in background, education, and experience that it wouldn't be possible for the former to pass unnoticed among the latter, especially given the sort of doomed quixoticism to which they're given.
    • There is at least some surveillance among the proles; I believe it is mentioned that the smarter among them get offed regularly. As for suicide, that would depend on whether they had anything to commit the deed with.
      • Winston mentioned buying razor blades.
      • He was essentially unable to find any even just to shave with. The best way would just be to jump headfirst off the tallest prole building you can find.
    • Knowing the great lengths the Party will go towards enforcing their notions that all are ultimately subject to the will of the Party, it would not surprise me if Miniluv had its own dedicated "suicide watch" department dedicated to talking down any would-be suicides — and then taking them to Room 101 and breaking them for even daring to contemplate that they have any control over how their lives are lived (or not lived) whatsoever.
    • First off, people don't enjoy suicide. Suicide sucks, because it means you're not alive anymore and therefore you can't spend time with your beloved or seek out some other source of happiness. I'm surprised at people asking "Why didn't they just commit suicide?" as if that was an obvious answer. (And it's not as if they knew in advance that they'd be caught and tortured; there was always a chance that they'd get lucky and grow old together) Secondly, did you miss the part where they attempted to join the Brotherhood and destroy the Party? It's hard to be useful to the Brotherhood if you're dead. Hiding among the Proles might have worked, but again it's easier to do that if you're got the Brotherhood backing you up. They were doing they best they could with the information they had.

    Nobody would want the Party to rise in the first place! 

  • Why did the Party rise to power in the first place? What the heck, nobody, I mean nobody, would like an oppressive government powered by cognitive dissonance, unless they're masochists or horribly stupid.
    • You're assuming that people just let the Party take power, fully knowing its ideals?
    • The history of the Party is lost forever, even to the Inner Party. But, given that the Party is partially a take on Stalinism, we can guess the way it happened is something like:
      • The USA and British Empire unite to form Oceania, an Imperialist capitalist regime.
      • Big Brother and Goldstein lead a socialist revolution, promising freedom for all, and overthrow the rulers of Oceania on a wave of popular support.
      • The war with Eastasia and/or Eurasia begins.
      • The party passes more and more draconian laws, and strictly rations resources to all but the Inner Party, on the pretext of the war. They increase their control over information, banning all but officially sanctioned sources of news and versions of history, on the pretext of security.
      • Goldstein protests against these moves.
      • A purge sweeps through Oceania, rooting out and locking up all Goldstein's followers — and many, many innocent people accused of being Goldstein's followers.
      • In the years that follow, it becomes easier and easier to be accused of being a follower of Goldstein. People become afraid of saying or doing anything that shows they are not 100% Party supporters.
      • And three major totalitarian parties and their puppet states arose in the three decades before Orwell wrote his book, and one of them, the USSR, seemed incredibly stable. The rise of another wasn't implausible in the least.
    • Also, the backstory has what appears to be a quite severe atomic war. (Winston remembers an atomic bomb falling on Colchester, which is not a major industrial center or strategic target, though it is close to a number of important air bases. Goldstein's book said the effect of the war almost destroyed civilization and badly scared the ruling classes of the day.) Presumably, in the aftermath of the war, draconian measures to restore order were taken by the world's governments and the hellish regimes of 1984 were just a development of that. (Orwell mentioned that one of the inspirations for 1984 was the way that English socialists had been corrupted by the power they achieved during World War Two.)
    • Big Brother probably rose to power the same way Hitler did. Hitler was a master of telling the people what they wanted to hear, and of course by the time anyone figured out what his real goal was, he was already in power and it took the combined military force of most of the rest of the world to stop him. Is it so improbable that the same thing could happen again? Even if you take the view (as some do) that all three world powers — Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania — are just three arms of the same global superpower, and that the war is simply another method of controlling the people, it would just be a matter of applying Hitler's methods on a much larger scale; difficult, but not impossible.

    Doublethink is not foolproof. 

  • As for the concept of doublethink preventing rebellion from the higher, middle and lower classes of the party, I really don't think it will last. I'm sure it will go on for many generations, but it's my opinion that any thing, no matter how stable or proof it may seem, will inevitably change or fall. If that were the case, absolutely nothing would occur, everything would remain the same (which this troper finds, in conjunction to the movements of the universe, outright impossible). There will always be a chance that the doublethink system will inherit a "bug" that may cause unforeseen changes or even break the system as a whole. For example, during his torture in the ministry of love, Winston contemplated using doublethink to let himself be a conscious loyal supporter of the party but at the same time letting his hatred of the party persist in his unconscious mind. There is also the possibility that one contradicting fact may have more power over another contradicting fact, the constant measure to equal them out would take too much of the party's time.
    • I'm not sure how permanent Orwell meant for Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia to be, or how relevant that permanence is to the story. What Orwell was commenting on was the unending cycle of revolution and corruption and the steps a society may take to short-circuit it with the aid of omnipresent technology and total control over culture-not necessarily whether such a society would be permanently successful. The point is that such a society is possible now in our day and age, not whether it would still be around 100, 500, or 1000 years afterward.
    • If everything will fail, than any attempt by the Party to gain permanent control will fail (and it will, since the Earth will eventually be destroyed) will fail, so complaining that their attempts to gain permanent control will fail is pointless and redundant.
  • "Doublethink" is just another word for epistemological relativism. And doublethink suffers from exactly the same flaw as relativism anyway: a society based on relativism is extremely unstable and bound to collapse.
  • As Rational Wiki points out, such "bugs" in systems of cognitive dissonance i.e. the inability of the rulers to discern the realities that they need to act on from the lies they tell their people despite theoretically having easy access to the former are very real and a very big problem for such states. Granted, actually having a work for Doublethink might make is slightly better by making it clear it's okay to know both and thus work to keep them sepparate, and Orwell kind of sidestepped the problem by putting Winston in a job that doesn't affect the country as much as a Miniplenty or Minipax worker, but what happens when a military commander reads about Comrade Olgivy and makes a decision based on his unit and the battle he was fighting? And the moment an outer-party member tries to correct an inner-party member on such a mistake or bring attention to a general problem, the inner-party member, concieted douchebags that they are, is liable to the report as either a personal insult and/or evidence of Thoughcrime (they've literally put it in official documentation that The Party can be wrong), and have them sent to Miniluv, leaving the problem to fester.

    1984's largest Hope Spot: Mother Nature? 

  • Here's another problem, in the book the party is so obsessed with controlling its populace and crushing any dissent in any way possible that it appears to ignore the fact that certain other nonhuman circumstances could decimate them. Sure, alone, no thought criminal can ever fight the system, but what will the Party do with mass scale disasters? For example, what if a large earthquake occurred and destroyed a part of Oceania or whatever. At that point in time communications could go down and the party would be temporarily blinded from that particular spot, and during that time something would occur there that would potentially undermine their power. No matter what technology they have, not everything can be proved for certain. Or what happens if they had an economic crisis...? Disregarding doublethink, there's only so much a populace can take before it decides something has to be done to continue its survival.
    • The people in the disaster zone have a shattered social infrastructure and a good chunk of their resources wiped out. The people outside of it have an intact social infrastructure, including guns, tanks and bombs. No matter how pissed off the people in the disaster zone are, it would be very easy for those outside of it to seal it off and let everyone in there starve to death or be shot.
    • Something like asteroids, or telescreen-killing solar flare strikes, or the Global Warming caused by all those war machines, or a good ol' zombie apocalypse note  that is born from the Proles' filth and kills off important Minilove members like how the Black Death almost undermined the Church's order in The Late Middle Ages, would certainly be more plausible in undermining Party rule. That said, the complete monstrosity of the Party] makes even a naturally-induced class X apocalypse look optimistic.

    Telescreens are not foolproof. 

  • Orwell failed to do sufficient research when describing most integral part of Big Brother's regime: The telescreen. While Orwell explains most of the Party's tyrannical methods, he never explains any aspect of the telescreen or how the Party is able to spy on everyone. The result is a system that is Hilarious in Hindsight because in order for a telescreen system like the one in 1984 to work, a decentralized system would be necessary, and that system would place control out of the hands of the Party. The Party needs people smart enough to run the machines, yet these people are also seen as threats. At some point, those smart Party members will realize the potential of the system and the danger they face, hack into the telescreens, and take them over. These rebels can escape into the prole system where they will remain undetected by the Party, turn off the telescreen in those areas, and teach the proles how to use the screen themselves. Once that happens, Big Brother will fall. And there WILL be someone that uses their knowledge of the telescreen to rebel because, as O'Brien said, "There will always be traitors."
    • Congratulations! You've just reinvented Brazil from first principles.
    • What you suggest doesn't work for a few reasons. It can't be all that hard to install cameras into telescreens and have programs that make people watched randomly, by the appropriate authorities. Even if that actually *is* too hard, and it would have to be more directly administered, the people who would have to administer the telescreen systems would logically be watched more closely than any other; probably by others, in person, ready to deal with the problem if they ever so much as thought about using the system for their benefit. Smart, independent-thinking people tend to disappear rather quick, remember (it's not as if they can really trust each other; anyone could be a plant). They couldn't teach most proles how to use the telescreens; they are, as a whole, too ignorant and stupid to use them (remember they have an aptitude test of sorts into entry into the Party; and smart and potentially dangerous people among the proles are found and executed by plants within the class). Even if they managed to overcome all of those obstacles, they still wouldn't necessarily gain control of Oceania. Either it's implied or stated outright in the book that London is merely a regional capital (why would you have the capital of your world-striding nation be near the front of another nation when it could be safely over in the Americas?), meaning that the country is already decentralized, with each part effectively controlling its subjects.
      • This is illogical. With millions of cameras covering every public and private area in London, there is no way the party could have enough people to focus on every single screen and every single person as well as overseers to watch the people who are watching the screens. Someone can very easily slip through the cracks. Also, the whole "proles are too stupid" idea is a cop-out. The telescreen has become real in the form of the iPhone, and YouTube videos of toddlers using the iPhone can be found. If children can learn how to use communication tools, so can the proles. Finally, the fact that Oceania is decentralized only increases the chance of an uprising. It doesn't need to be replaced by a new government that overlooks the entire empire. It simply needs to be fragmented into smaller states determined by the telescreen networks.
      • Telescreens are explicitly not point-to-point communication devices like telephones. They are a tool for one-way, top-down dissemination of information from a central source, with an integrated covert surveillance channel that's made effective as much by careful (and state-mandated) arrangement of furnishings as anything else; note specifically Smith's musings, early on, on how unusual it is for there to be any place in his dwelling which lies outside the telescreen's field of view. Orwell wasn't thinking of cellphones when he invented telescreens; he was thinking of televisions with built-in spy cameras which you'd be shot for trying to hide from or turn off. If your thinking in any way involves the modern concept of a network into which information can be injected from any point on its periphery, you're no longer thinking about the world in which Orwell set his story.
      • But then couldn't any revolution be contained at a regional level? Oceania would simply use its military might to crush a rebellion before it spread to other regions.
      • This would be true if a rebellion began in a single region, but a rebellion through the telescreen would not go through a single route. The nature of the network — with its decentralized connections and quick spread of information — creates a Memetic Mutation and rebellion that spreads like wildfire (Think of how the Internet increased anonymous activism and prevented corrupt governments from keeping secrets). There's no way the system could knock out every single rebel with anything short of a blanket bombing, which would cripple the labor needed from the Outer Party and proles. Furthermore, couldn't the hackers use the telescreen against the military as well? Peter Huber's novel, 'Orwell's Revenge', which addresses this telescreen problem, creates a situation in which the hackers feed a loop into the military stations consisting of Big Brother telling them to stand by for further instructions.
      • The party could easily assign a quarter of all people to observe the telescreens, but that is not even needed. Remember, it's in the future. Sure, it looks like the past, but that's because the party only advances military and oppression technology. A machine, for example, that is able to temporarily lobotomize someone is mentioned, or a machine that is able to produce movies, songs and novels on its own. Even Winston works with a device that has perfect speech to text — so it's fair to assume that the party has computers and programs with speech and image recognition and maybe even some sort of artificial intelligence, which of course would have no problems to simultaneously monitor millions of people. All the party has to do is tap in when the program spots an expression of thoughtcrime.
      • The key word in that argument is ASSUME. Orwell wants us to ASSUME that the Party has futuristic tools that he doesn't need to explain that keeps the people in check. He wants us to ASSUME that these devices always work to their end. He wants us to ASSUME that the proles will always be stupid. Unlike Aldous Huxley, who went into detailed explanations of the technology behind the World State in Brave New World, Orwell just magically invents these gadgets and then expects us to believe that they will always work no matter what rather than explain how these machines can function, and it makes his dystopia much less believable.
      • It's true that Orwell was in no wise a technical man, and more or less just assumed the minimal level of technological capability necessary to make his narrative work. But he also wasn't in any wise a stupid man, and he was careful not to assume that his assumptions were necessarily plausible. That's why the Party does not rely entirely on telescreens for surveillance, or on Newspeak for curtailment of antisocial thought, or on any other single one of the tools and techniques it uses to enforce its rule. Instead, they reinforce one another to produce the effect we see in the story. Granted, Winston assumes himself to be observed by every telescreen in whose field of view he happens to fall — but there's no reason why the reader should accept that assumption at face value, rather than considering, for example, that all telescreens neither can be, nor need be, monitored at all times, and those who monitor them divide their attention between people who are of particular concern, places which are especially sensitive, and a random sampling of all the rest in order to drop in occasional reminders, such as the point early on where the morning calisthenics leader calls out Winston's lack of effort, that suffice to maintain Outer Party members' belief that they are being watched at all times.
      • "The machines have always worked. The machines will always work because Big Brother says so." The population has already been terrorized for at least two generations, and the Big Brother regime works to maintain the terror. It's not even necessary for all of the telescreens to work both ways in order to maintain the bluff. The minute someone calls the bluff (Winston's diary was a form of bluff-calling) is when the Thought Police intervene. It's easier to police the Party than the entire population — all you have to do is convince the proles they're being watched, and maintain a constant state of emergency. You don't have to actually watch them. And the Party is sufficiently small enough that they can receive more intense scrutiny.
    • There's a concept called Bentham's Panopticon which might apply here; to sum up, the Panopticon is essentially a design for a prison by a man called Jeremy Bentham in which the cells are all arranged in a circular fashion around a large guard tower in the centre. The doors of the cells are unobscured so that anyone inside the tower can at any moment see what is happening inside any one of the cells; however, the tower is covered in mirrored glass (or something else which enables a guard to see out but no one to see in), so no one inside the cells can see what is happening in the tower. As far as the prisoners are concerned, they are under twenty-four hour surveillance, because they never know when the guards might be looking directly at them; however, theoretically there might not actually be anyone in the tower at all. The idea is that this enables not only convenient surveillance on the part of the guard, but also self-surveillance on part of the prisoner; since they never know if the guard is actually observing them, they behave just in case. The telescreen is arguably this principle writ large; the Party installs these in every home and tells everyone they're under constant surveillance (using tricks such as the exercise program, where the exercise leader can at any point address someone via the telescreen, to underscore this); theoretically there might be no one watching the monitors on the other end at all, but because the citizens of Oceania have been so heavily bombarded with propaganda about the omniscience of the Party and are so dulled to the idea of resistance, they accept this so easily that they end up monitoring their own behaviour. In essence, the prisoners (or the citizens of Oceania) become their own guards.
      • True, but again this constant surveillance only extends to the Outer Party. Again, this all comes back to the proles. The proles are left to their own devices, and though they often deal with vices like porno and booze, they do have their own way of interacting. All of the major forms of repression are used up on the Outer Party, and the proles are ignored under the pretense, again, that they are too stupid. It's all the proles and the telescreen. Orwell's system has allowed for the two to be combined, and when they do, the result will be disaster for the Inner Party. I'm not saying that Orwell isn't wrong in suggesting that the telescreen can be used for tyranny. The use of technology for Nazi propaganda is what inspired him to write '1984' in the first place, and state control of media in North Korea has indeed led to a real-life Oceania. But Orwell never acknowledged the power the telescreen had as a tool against centralization and the state, as seen today through the WikiLeaks releases.
      • This, to be fair, is because Orwell lived and wrote well before the Internet as a concept was even a pipe-dream, never mind before GUI or Julian Assange and WikiLeaks or Web 2.0 or anything came along to make it into a tool for the masses to oppose centralized and state control of media and change Cyberpunk to Post-Cyberpunk. In Orwell's time, television and radio were by and large centralized and ran by the state; he based part of the novel on his experiences working for The BBC, which monopolized the British radio and (what passed for the) television networks as a monopoly up until pretty much the 1950's. There were pretty much no other broadcasters in Britain when Orwell was writing, what few there were paled in comparison to the BBC for a good long while and even when they did pop up its fair to say that they weren't tools for the masses to broadcast their views to the public at large; they were still by and large dependent on what a handful of corporations were giving them rather than being able to put content out themselves, and not anyone could just go on TV or the radio and talk about whatever they wanted. Similarly, in the novel the proles might be able to watch telescreens, but they can't make their own programs and put them on or anything, so there's really not a lot of potential for them to use it as a tool of mass-uprisings. The reason Orwell didn't really write about the potential of the telescreen for resistance to state control and centralization was because in the environment he was living in writing in, there was really very little observable potential that he could see for the real-life equivalents of the telescreen to act as such a tool. Remember, too, how expensive (and big) were by then both TV sets and the equipment TV broadcasts needed; something like a smartphone in Orwell's epoch would be science-fiction.
      • It's also not just 'a pretence that the proles are too stupid' — it's something that the Party is actively working on ensuring. What tends to be forgotten in the "one good prole could bring down the system" arguments is that the proles are not just ignored, and are in fact subject to the same kinds of conditioning as the Party members — except where the Party members are subject to conditioning about loyalty and love of Big Brother, the proles are being conditioned to not give a flying fuck about politics, intellectualism, or anything that might help them realize their current circumstances and organise resistance to them. As such, a prole who starts showing interest in these kinds of things is going to stick out as much as Winston did — and consequently, is going to easy to spot and bring in.
    • You're forgetting one really important thing: The party actually pretty much creates all the traitors. One single person can't take down the party, and thus would seek out the brotherhood, at which point they would be captured. The people operating the telescreens would no doubt also be inner party members, who are probably very unlikely to betray the party.
  • The whole concept of telescreen is flawed. Given to the abysmally low technological level of Oceania, any Tech Savvy prankster (or just anyone) would figure out the principles on how telescreens work in minutes and be able to hack one just as soon. He would be quickly able to figure out when it is on "sending" mode and how to capture the signals and how to crack them, how to jam them, how to baffle them and how to sabotage them. Mind you, they are assumed to work on technology, not magic.
    • If Oceania's tech level is low, doesn't that mean that the populace also has a low level of tech skill? You're assuming the existence of pranksters who are sufficiently tech-savvy to hack the telescreens. Where would anybody get those skills in the first place? What percentage of people would even be willing to try hacking a telescreen, when everyone is desperately afraid of the Party and highly loyal to the system? And sure, maybe a few people tried hacking the screens anyway, and then the Party murdered them before things got out of control. That's not hard to imagine.
  • Science writer Nigel Calder once wrote a criticism of 1984 where he commented that the telescreens are using broadcast technology (cable television wouldn't exist for several decades after Orwell's time) and as such, wouldn't work if there were mountains in the way. He suggested that rebels against the Party might congregate in mountainous areas like Wales and organize the overthrow of Ingsoc. Fridge Logic would suggest that in such areas, it might be very difficult to maintain the constant surveillance that seems essential to maintaining the Party's rule — then again, maybe they did develop cable telescreens for use in such areas.
    • Or simply relocated those people to major population centers. Or, for that matter, developed microwave repeaters which could (and historically did) fill the gaps.
    • Even without relocation, cable telescreens, or microwave repeaters, there's still all manner of measures the Party could take against potentially "unmonitorable" zones and their populations. There's nothing preventing, for instance, Minipax saturation-bombing isolated villages, and their very isolation would work against them in getting word out of such things to the rest of the world (not that such news would ever survive Minitrue's scrutiny even then).
      • Hasn't worked anywhere in the Real Life against guerrillas. Most of the guerrillas in the scenario would be disgruntled war veterans anyway who have gotten fed up with the incompetent regime waging endless and pointless war. People, especially conscripts, do not want to get killed just for killing's sake. Proles may be dumb but they are not stupid, and especially their officers aren't stupid and they quickly realize when they are led in needless slaughter at war.
  • Here's a real life example to help clear things up — I work for a chain retailer that has security cameras all over the place, on the sales floor, over each cash register, in the backroom, everywhere. Here's a little secret; there is never anyone actually watching those things. Their only purpose is to make people FEEL like they're being watched (we used to have regular PA announcements about 'Security scan zone 68' or other gibberish) and so we have incontestable evidence of your crimes when our Loss Prevention people grab you for acting shifty. Oh, and the number one tip-off to Loss Prevention that you're going to steal? Walking around looking at the security cameras and trying to find somewhere you think they can't see.
  • In the right hands, the telescreen may actually become a weapon against the Party. Let's say that a thought criminal (you may call him V) is sent to the Ministry of Love but, instead of being broken, he manages to overcome the guards and escape, still with all his ideas in place. What can a guy like this do? Yes, he can go to the place where telescreens are managed, beat up the guys guarding them, and get a magnificent "Do Not Adjust Your Set" moment. It will get into ALL houses, it will be heard by ALL people.
    "Good evening, London, capital of Britain. Yes, you have heard well, Britain, not Airstrip whatever. Allow me first to apologise for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine — the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. For most of you, today is a day like any other, a day to wake up, hear military marches, go to work, get back home and sleep, just like yesterday, the day before yesterday and so on. The very concept of date and year may seem useless, but it is not. Today is November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, of the year 1984. I thought we could mark this day by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, the thought police is on their way, technicians are working hard to shut down the telescreens, and the ministry of lies tries to erase those words from existence. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once upon a time you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. This country you know as "Oceania" has once been the nation of several great men who had stood against absolute governments and fought for freedom. Guy Fawkes, George Washington, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, Jose Gervasio Artigas, Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla, Bernardo O Higgins and many others, had a hope. Their hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words—they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot!"
    • I'm sorry, but that situation is ridiculous and would never work, ever, in this world or any other. To begin with, "V" would have only been sent to the Ministry of Love after being carefully watched and manipulated until they know everything about his past and, most importantly, his fears, and they would use that against him, just as they did with Winston and Julia. Everyone has some sort of phobia that can be used against them and the Party is very practised at using them. Solzhenitsyn proved that pretty much the only way to resist that kind of torture is to hold an incredibly strong faith in something, which is more or less impossible in 1984 given that they're rapidly deleting the words that would allow them to hold such principles. But I'll grant you that, maybe "V" is some sort of mental superhuman with a will of iron, and they can't break him. The Party would probably just shoot him on the spot, as he's useless to them. But okay, again, I'll roll with it, for some reason they don't and just leave him in his cell to keep trying. Now what? He's in a cell. Prison cells are generally not places where one can escape easily on your own, and in this particular cell "V" would be punished for moving an inch. Considering he's a prisoner that they haven't yet broken, he'd probably be guarded 24/7. All right, so one particularly stupid guard has a brain snap and leaves the door open long enough for "V" to make a break for it. He's still a starved, tortured man surrounded by gun-wielding guards and telescreens. He'd be killed. If he does manage to break out of the prison, it's still a long walk to the telescreen place, particularly with the entire might of the party chasing you down. "V" makes it to the telescreen place. So what? Unless he actually worked there it's useless to him, because he doesn't know how to hack in or disrupt the telescreens, assuming he could even do so given that the entire might of the party is chasing him. And even if, miracles of miracles, he does know or somehow convinces someone else to do it for him... So what? They'll just turn off the telescreens. The public won't listen to him; they've been conditioned since birth to ignore his awful lies. What he says about Guy Fawkes and George Washington is utterly meaningless because the public don't know those people. He'll be killed, then Big Brother will show up and say "And this is exactly why you need to stay vigilant and report any signs of thoughtcrime to the Party. Carry on, folks." Big Brother wins, "V" is forgotten, end of story.
    • Let's say "V" somehow manages to hi-jack the telescreens and give that speech. Who would care? Anyone who was alive before the Party was created would probably say something like, "Well, we tried all that freedom crap already and look how we've ended up." Anyone born after the Party was created would have no idea who the people mentioned in the speech are, and the ideas attributed to those mentioned in the speech could easily be written off as thoughtcrime and thus something to avoid. They also wouldn't know of (or even be able to conceive) any life other than their own, where the Party is omnipresent and, to them at least, perfect.
      • In addition to all the above concerns, the people of Oceania have already, specifically, been conditioned to see and hear the most extreme anti-Party rhetoric blare from their telescreens for two minutes out of every single day. How would "V"'s speech be in any way more jarring or distinguishable from the other erudite, impassioned, goateed enemy of the state they watch rant against their way of life so routinely it's basically a matter of reflex to just scream with fear and hatred and throw rubble at the screen? They've all been effectively inoculated against it! The people's complete desensitization to thoughtcriminal propaganda is an absolutely fundatmental part of Orwell's dystopia and the main reason no grandstanding act of rebelliousness would be likely to be widely acted upon, embraced or even remembered by the next day.

    Sexcrime doesn't make sense. 

  • Is it really necessary for the Party to abolish the libido/orgasm? It's not like sex for pleasure can lead to the destruction of the Party, and it might even strengthen the Party's power if the children are just sent to schools where they are brainwashed with doublethink and parent betrayal and Newspeak and like that. If we follow what Sigmund Freud claimed, then it is nigh-impossible to abolish the libido, which is an instinct that is hardwired into our DNA, thus it cannot be fully abolished no matter how much doublethink and repression we must use. The Party got expert psychologists, and they should know that fact. Seems like Party psychological science simply forgot the all-encompassing pleasure principle (not necessarily being an All Psychology Is Freudian advocate, in fact, this troper can also accept other psychological schools of thought like behaviourism). Oh, I know, the Party is power-driven, and their sexual frustration is compensated by pure power, like for example Winston's Mind RAPE.
    • It would weaken the Party. They want to kill all attachments except to Big Brother. For the Outer Party there is nothing pleasurable except loving B.B.
    • Sadly a case of Truth in Television, several totalitarian regimes did exactly the same. USSR during Stalin had a very conservative anti-sex ideology, also China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Cambodia’s Pol Pot. They seem to think that if you control sex you control people as you are controlling their greatest source of pleasure, is the ultimate form of totalitarianism.
      • Also, about loving B.B.: Since direct sex is impossible, and everyone is encouraged to worship B.B., does that mean they are redirecting their sexual desires to B.B.? Cue Cargo Ship...
      • Yes, that's explicit in the text. Julia says the point of repressing sex is so people redirect their sexual energies into "war fever and leader worship." Not really a Cargo Ship, though, since Big Brother is (allegedly) a person, but could well be Perverse Sexual Lust.
    • According to O'Brien it's neurologists, not psychologists, who are trying to eliminate the orgasm. Various forms of chemical castration and psychiatric medication already exist, which do appear to be successful at massively reducing sex drive, and there are plenty of environmental pollutants that cause sexual dysfunction. No matter how "hardwired into our DNA" it is, orgasms are fundamentally biochemical, and even just putting drugs in the water supply would do the trick.
    • The Party wants to abolish the orgasm for the same reason it does anything: For the Evulz.
      • The Party doesn't act For the Evulz. It acts for power. While both ideas may produce similar systems in practice, they are extremely different in principle.
  • Wait, if the Party is so antisex how come the Ministry of Truth can produce porn?! Either the porn workers are only proles, or the people working in Porno Sec are immediately sent to Room 101 Every. Single. Day.
    • It's in the book. Julia once worked in Porno Sec; Young girls are generally preferred. The porn is so bad it's barely considered sexual, and is apparently more hilarious than anything else.
      • In this context, it's interesting to read Orwell's essay about "dirty postcards" — the "proles" of his day had demonstrated a willingness to buy "smutty" materials that were as much comic as sexual, so it made sense to assume that Porno Sec might crank out that sort of thing to keep the proles of Airstrip One contented.
    • It's also meant only for proles and strictly forbidden for Outer Party members to possess it.
    • Note also that the porn is mentioned to be 100% computer-generated: The workers in pornosec just maintain whatever ancient Schizo Tech actually does the writing. There are no actors or anything like that.
      • But how can Party members determine if it's really porn pictures that come out of the computers and not just some random bunch of Binary codes, and adjust the computers accordingly to generate believable porn and not just a bunch of Binary that the Proles can't understand? Sooner or later somebody is gonna have to test the breaking-down Porn Machines but because of fears of Room 101 nobody will want to engineer how it works and the Porn Machines will probably be left to break down. And the Proles will probably finally rally "They're taking away our porn!" *cue mass revolt and the Inner Party getting completely annihilated by the Zerg Rush of horny proles*
      • Even in a Newspeak society, random binary gibberish is easy to determine from actual words, and bad porn is easy; a thirteen year old with a word processor and a LiveJournal account can come up with bad porn Fan Fic. It's tits, ass, screwing, thrusting, coming, etc. This is bad "He put his thingy in my you-know-what and we did it for the first time" porn to give the Proles something to jerk off too / laugh at, it's not quality erotica they're after. So even when the machine breaks down when the Inner Party are all becoming incapable of sex (with their research on artificial insemination), someone will still fix the machine because someone else will order them to, and if they disobey they'll get thrown in Room 101 for disobedience (it's kind of doublethink Morton's Fork in practice, really). And then, someone else will decide they've been contaminated and will send them to Room 101 anyway, at which point another drone will be brought in and ordered to fix the machines if they break upon threat of Room 101. Either way, you're screwed. Rinse, wash, repeat.
      • In the film, O'Brien mentions that photos of Winston having sex with Julia will be recycled for proletarian use. Maybe Pornosec's computers are all powered by the data secretly collected from heretical Party members committing sexcrime.


  • For readers who are not under the threat of Electric Torture, is there any reason to believe Winston's suggestion that the Party "believe[s] that human beings are not fit to govern themselves" is as "stupid" as O'Brien says?
    • Even Winston didn't believe it when he said it. Some members of the party might doublethink that they really are doing what they do for humanity's good, but the actual reason they torture their citizens is that the crave power. It could even be argued that the Inner Party wouldn't let anyone more interested in helping humanity than in power join their ranks.
  • Why does Winston trust people just because he has dreams about them?
    • It seems that the dreams are an expression if Winston's subconscious. If he subconsciously believes he can trust someone, then he has to consciously.
  • If B.B. is watching everyone, there must be nearly as many watchers as there are people.
    • People are not being watched 24h, but only for part of time.
    • Use of computers ("Even Winston works with a device that has perfect speech to text — so it's fair to assume that the party has computers and programs with speech and image recognition and maybe even some sort of artificial intelligence, which of course would have no problems to simultaneously monitor millions of people. All the party has to do is tap in when the program spots an expression of thoughtcrime."), from above.
  • I might have missed this, but Winston's job is to modify published fact to keep current with the party doctrine. How does he do this to books people already have? Does everyone go out and buy the latest copy of a book or newspaper when Winston updates it?
    • There are no books. There are magazines, if I remember correctly, but they get thrown out once they've been looked at. Mostly they go to the flicks or to gatherings at "Community Centres."
      • Magazines and newspapers are tossed into "Memory Holes" where they are incinerated immediately after reading. Given the forced scarcity of this society, and the need to constantly conform information to the Party's current dictates, it's possible that they could head into Fahrenheit 451 territory sooner rather than later ("The telescreens deliver all knowledge. The telescreens have always delivered all knowledge.") It would actually be easier for the Party to pull this off than the government in Bradbury's novel (people there seem to have the ability to think for themselves, just not the desire).
      • Around the time Orwell was writing the novel, rationing of paper meant that very few copies of books or magazines could be produced. The lack of printed material wouldn't have been nearly as jarring to Orwell's contemporaries as it is to us. A good example of how Oceania is a commentary of every bad thing about 1930's and 1940's Britain.
  • Who polices the Thought Police?
    • Themselves. Only a specific type of individual is recruited into the Thought Police.
    • They probably have something similar to an Internal Affairs bureau like real life police forces, of course then we can ask who watches the Internal Affairs Thought Police but then we will be in some sort of Möbius-like loop.
  • Why is the possibility of Julia becoming pregnant never mentioned?
    • If she can procure rarities like real sugar and chocolate, she could probably find some protection on the black market or something.
    • Katherine never got pregnant either, despite her and Winston's... Attempts. I'll give you a second to find the common denominator.
      • I think the WMG theory that Julia is pregnant during her final appearance in the book makes sense. The physical changes described are consistent with a somewhat advanced pregnancy, and we don't know how long it's been.
  • In the end, just because Winston got his brains and love scared out of him in Room 101 instantly means he loves big Brother.
    • He has nothing, everything has been taken away from him. In the end, B.B. is pretty much his only friend.
  • How the hell could Orson Welles think up such a horrific, And I Must Scream world without being insane or psychotic?!
    • It's George Orwell, not Orson Welles. Also, you don't need insanity to create dystopia.
      • Which raises the question of how tyrants can do this, and not be considered an Ax-Crazy Knight Templar. It's books like these that make me wish humanity would end.
      • Totalitarian regimes gain and hold power the same way as any other form of civil government: by looking like the best option available at the time, which, historically speaking, requires times to be very bad indeed. When the only thing saving your family from starvation is what your wife and daughters can earn on their backs, even an Ax-Crazy Knight Templar can look good, if he can get the economy on its feet again. Indeed, the least plausible single point of 1984 is simply the fact that the government it depicts does absolutely nothing to benefit its people. While such a government is not quite entirely unprecedented, the only near example provided by modern history is the government of North Korea, perhaps the last surviving artifact of Cold War realpolitik. Taking that as a baseline for humanity, and thus a reason for the apparently boundless misanthropy on display here, seems at best rather foolishly premature.
      • Plus, well... who says no one considers them Ax-Crazy Knight Templars? Some people probably do, they're just perhaps wise enough to not say so out loud in order to avoid the whole "getting tortured and shot" deal.
    • Eric Arthur Blair / George Orwell, not Orson Welles. As for how he came up with this, look at the time period he lived in; he saw the rise of totalitarianism in the form of the fascists nations, how they operated... Not to mention the politics and human psychology that are timeless, as apparent to an observant of the present as to a student of history. 1984 should be all the more horrifying because it was inspired by the real world.
      • James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution is (deservedly) forgotten nowadays, but it was a very widely read book at the time and clearly had a huge influence on Orwell. He summarized its thesis as "The new 'managerial' societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the Earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom." Remind you of anything? BTW this was a serious, non-fiction book in just the same way that, say, Thomas Friedman's The Earth is Flat is a serious, non-fiction book that purports to describe the current condition and future trajectory of the world. These ideas were commonplace in the 1930's and 1940's; it was left to Orwell to take them to their horrifying conclusion.
    • Orwell was slowly dying from tuberculosis when he wrote the novel, which may have something to do with it (and almost certainly influenced the horrifying description of Winston's deteriorating body in the Miniluv chapters.)
  • Question: At the beginning of the book, Winston arrives at his apartment building. The narration mentions that the lift wouldn't work because the electricity to the building was turned off during daylight hours. If that's true, then what's powering the telescreens? Are they on a separate circuit?
    • One would assume the Telescreens were separate, possibly on a powered closed circuit akin to telephone lines. This does raise the question how long before someone realises that the electricity supply could be constant, and begin to question why it is off to homes during the day. Also, it could be assumed that no party member should be inside their homes during daylight hours, full members should be at work and children should be at school, therefore there would be no need to observe a series of empty flats.
    • Consider it this way: electricity, because of poor infrastructure and economizing for the war, is in limited supply. It would make sense to keep the telescreens powered since they're one of Party's the most important tools for reaching out to (and watching over) the general populace. But lifts? Wasting precious electricity because you're too lazy to walk up the stairs? Suddenly, you think you deserve more than people who are making brave sacrifices to ensure the strength of the Party? You might as well ask the Thought Police to haul you in!
  • Which class do the soldiers and other military fighting the endless war belong to? I think it's mostly composed of proles, but they don't even really seem to care about or even really be aware of the fact that a war is happening. Does the military belong in a separate class altogether?
    • Does there really need to be a military? The party can simply claim a division was lost in a far-away country. The proles will not question where the soldiers came from, since they personally don't know anyone in the military and don't care. Some outer party members (or some machine) simply generates a random list of soldier names, using doublethink to belief they have always been part of the military. A memorial with 500 names on it is put somewhere in the city, and it will seem just like the war is dangerous. There is no need for the people to actually fight, as long as they belief they may have to.
      • Winston essentially manufactures a fake war hero's biography from whole cloth given a name and a picture. The odds are good that this guy died at the hands of the Ministry of Love a day or two earlier. Multiply by 100, or 500, or 1000...

    This is a bit of a meta complaint... 

  • ...As it is directed not so much at the book but rather at people's discussions here. I am seeing way too many conversations here that degrade into a: "But I see one tiny loophole in the party, so given the contrived circumstances a guy can revolt!" I feel like these people are missing the point entirely. Orwell went to great lengths to carefully construct a society in which obedience is the only possible behavior, and that is what's truly scary about the story. We have to remember that all management techniques the party employs, be it telescreens or thought police helicopter robot things, are just one of MANY tools in their arsenal. In fact, I would argue that these explicit means of control are mostly facades for psychological effect, or maybe last ditch resorts at best.

    The most powerful tool the party has at its disposal is the complete control of the citizen's psychological and cultural existence. The very fabrics of society are molded to the party's pleasure, as people are slowly conditioned to not even understand HOW to commit thoughtcrime (of course the party will still find reasons to arrest people). People of the last generation (those who remember the old ways) had their wills broken, and people of the new generation never had one to begin with. Incidentally, this is what O'Brien meant when he mentioned that Winston is the only insane man.

    There is another reason that a rebellion is not so easily started even in the case of a Nature-induced telescreen failure or some other unexpected event. Other than the intense psychological and sociological conditioning that people received, the constant state of of mass paranoia and cognitive dissonance works greatly in the party's favor. To create a rebellion, organization is critical, and that is the hardest part. I will bring up two examples to further this point.

    One, consider oppressive regimes of the past — not just totalitarian fascist ones, but also monarchial systems of the medieval era. Let's not consider the working class (because class conflicts, and the theory where all rebellions are sparked by the middle class just gets into a whole big different argument), and focus on the higher ups in the military. Although military revolts occur, the frequency that they do spring up seem to far under represent the actual discontent that are expressed. However, even if every single member of the armed forces secretly resented the present regime, a mutual fear of the king is necessary to prevent a coup.

    Think of it as a mass prisoner's dilemma: By working together, the army can easily overwhelm the ruling power, but without an opportunity (historically usually brought on by the death of the previous king) to gather together, the individuals in the army are forced to act as independent agents. Working cooperatively will bring about the best outcome (i.e. successful revolution), but as individual agents, the optimal policy then becomes instead to simply save yourself and arrest any dissenters. This was Hitler's simple tactic on keeping his pet Magnificent Bastards under his leash, despite being way more tactically and mentally incompetent than the aforementioned bastards. Since this is becoming too long, I will save explanation of the second example, and instead invite my fellow tropers to look at something called the Panopticon. (Had to read this painfully loquacious piece for a course, but the themes it presented ended up quite interesting.)
    • I think that people cite minor loopholes as an absolute escape simply because the book works so well. Your point is absolutely right, and this gives the book a strong feeling of oppression and hopelessness. While this is what Orwell was going for, and what makes the book so good, the fact remains people don't like to feel hopeless. So a lot of this page is Tropers looking for a loophole simply because it makes them feel better after a rather emotionally draining novel. Also, it makes a good intellectual challenge.
      • It's pretty obvious that, eventually, the party will fall. The second someone like O'Brien decides he can have more power by giving the orgasm back, and generally making people think they're happy, the Party dies like all dictatorships. A society based on inflicting pain on as many people as possible to gain power will, eventually, collapse on itself.
    • Keep in mind that most Tropers are the product of a free society (or, at least, freer than Oceania). They haven't been conditioned from birth to believe that the state is omnipotent, and in fact have for the most part been encouraged to exercise critical thinking skills. What we're seeing on this page are the suppositions of people who own their own minds as to what they would do in this setting, not what the people conditioned by this setting might find it possible to do. In reality, we would be just as powerless in Oceania as the citizens of Oceania would be in our own world (albeit in a different way — we would be looking for loopholes and keeping the Thought Police busy in the process; the Oceanians would be paralyzed into inaction because they're expecting someone else to do their thinking for them).
    • Indeed. This isn't to tact or insult anybodies personal beliefs, but just think of it in terms of religion. If you are told something and never given any hope or slightest information otherwise, that's simply what you believe. LOGIC and REASON are assets and memetic, taught advantages to the human mind, not the norm. Man in a 'natural state' (not taught by other man) is no more intelligent than any other animal, and well we maybe at best can pick up things like language and habit without being taught, this means little more to our existence. Thus if Aztec society believes killing thousands of people and sacrificing them to a sun-god will keep said god going, the citizens will believe it to, there's no 'logic' behind it, it's just nature. The same reason why millions of Catholics use holy water, or people take showers or whatever. We have very insight into the world other than what we're taught, and if you lived in any other time period or society, their values and education would be your own, for better or for worse.
      • However, if it's any consolation to readers or people that feel hopeless, realistically the party WOULD fall, but it would hardly come from the paroles or 'you'. Most likely of all, it would be destroyed the same way most dictatorships fall, inner-struggle. I find it hard to believe the Inner-Party, even with their lavish life-style, would be satisfied. I find it highly unlikely that they'll not try to fight over power eventually-each of them attempting to have the joy of making everyone but themselves. Sooner or later there'd be a coup within the party, and through this accidents will slip up and the wizard behind the curtain will come crashing down. Sadly this won't lead to immediate freedom, as the paroles will likely just switch masters from time to time, but after enough revisions and slip-ups within the inner-party (Who aren't kept in check or in control by anything if THEY control the thought police), there's no way they could agree on collectivism eventually, their own greed and lust for power would be their own undoing. The concept of the founders is great, but it won't reach indefinitely to those recruited in future generations. Even technically owning 'everything' in Oceania, it only takes a single greedy idiot to screw things up.
      • On the other hand, the work is a work of fiction, and not a treatise on how such a dystopia could actually work- much is taken for granted, much is not explained but vaguely alluded to, and much only happens because it has to happen that way, or else the thought experiment of a "functional" dystopia fails. Everyone has to be brainwashed, everyone intelligent has to be completely manipulated, and the party has to always win, otherwise the plot does not work, in the same way that geniuses and master strategists in fiction rarely display actual genius or perfect strategy. Justifying the soundness of logic in a work of fiction can't be done because by the work's reality: effort X lead to result Y, so therefore effort X is a viable means to result Y as a result of the intrinsic nature of that fiction's reality. The real goal is to compare it to real life, to compare it to how such things may be similar or dissimilar to actual events on this earth, and to cause debate and discussion on those things. In real life, we have seen several ways in which something similar to The Party could come to being, but we also see where fiction does not lead to reality- where parties have fallen, where dictator states have simply slumped into capitalistic monarchies of a sort. Real life is not perfect, like fiction, where someone like O'Brien can have a complete and total victory over Winston, who had no chance of victory from the get go. In real life, people actually have to work to succeed, and are much more unpredictable than the easy sketching of fiction. The Party is inherently perfect not because of some perfection of design, but because it was written to be as such, not burdened under the weight of reality.
    • As it is said, 1984 is fiction, not a manual to build a dystopia. But fiction isn't free of being dissected either (otherwise, this very website wouldn't exist). Tropes like Villain Sue and Dystopia Is Hard exist for a reason.
    • We can see real life states that are, sadly, quite similar to Oceania, maybe not as radical but, how about China or North Korea? Why people in North Korea do not rebel against their apparently oppressive government even when they have scarcity and starvation? China is freer than North Korea but is still a pretty dictatorial regime were most people is poor and yet the most populated place in the world, the place in which no army could contain a popular uprising, has one of the most oppressive governments we know, why? Obviously –and sadly- Orwell did was right about how some totalitarian regimes does can self-preserve themselves indefinitely. If in the future there are no longer dictatorships at all, and China or North Korea or Saudi Arabia, etc., became as democratic and free as the Scandinavian countries, then we will know Orwell was wrong, until then… well…
    • Yes, it's true that all these oppressive techniques are more powerful in combination. But also, I think people misinterpet Orwell as saying that rebellion against the Party is absolutely impossible and the Party will last forever and the Party is totally invincible etc.. Then they come up with some way to rebell against the Party and shout "Orwell was wrong!" because apparently they don't understand what Orwell was trying to say. There are Headscratchers here like "Telescreens are not foolproof" and "Newspeak is not foolproof" but Orwell never said that any of those things were foolproof. It's O'Brien, not Orwell, who claims that the Party will last forever. In real life, Orwell very much believed that despotism could be defeated; he just knew that it was difficult. He knew that really powerful despotic systems could murder millions of attempted rebels before rebellion finally won out in the end. He chose to write a story about a failed rebel to emphasize the difficulty of the challenge, not to imply that success was literally impossible in the long run. If you reach the end of 1984 and conclude that the Party can't be defeated, then you've swallowed O'Brien's propaganda, just like Winston. If you reach the end of 1984 and start brainstorming ways to defeat the Party anyway, that's great. That's probably the reaction that Orwell wanted you to have. (He also he wants you to prevent things like the Party from gainging power in the first place, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)

    Forever is a very long time. 

  • Stomping on a human face over and over again must get boring at some point, and as most if not all absolute monarchs can tell you absolute political power isn't all it's cracked up to be. The Party may live forever, but Who Wants to Live Forever?.
    • They have decayed to the point that the concept of being bored out of repeating the same task ad nauseam is erased out of their brains. Interest no longer really exists in this world.
    • Plus, the point is not necessarily that the society of Nineteen Eighty Four will literally live forever and ever and ever — just that people are being conditioned to believe that it will. Winston, let's not forget, is being educated in a lot of this during an extended period of torture and Break Them by Talking where O'Brien is explicitly trying to break apart his entire personality and any hint of resistance to Big Brother contained therein.
    • Knowing the real reason why the Party exists (sadism), O'Brien might just as well know that the Party is going to rot itself anyway, and thus before they go down they try to take as many souls to despair as they can. He's just enjoying putting Winston into despair, since an incomprehensibly vast Nightmare Fuel that dominates forever is an effective way to force people into Despair Event Horizon (this component is also a reason why the Cosmic Horror Story genre is psychologically effective, ordinary monsters go away, but unknowable Terrors that may exist everywhere and forever, which the Party and Yog-Sothoth are, are Paranoia Fuel).

    The Party cannot be all-encompassing. 

  • It's not even physically possible to place enough microphones to police an entire continent or even just the whole of England. The world is an enormous place, full of millions upon millions of places to live and exist without ever even hearing of the Party. So there's really no conceivable way the Party's assholery can affect more than a very tiny portion of the world's population. Probably they just control a few city centres. Basically, whatever the Party does in their own little shitty world, there's always going to be an enormous group of people out in the boonies doing whatever they bloody well please, reading books and being educated and having democratic happy little societies, because there's no fucking way to get out there and stop them.
    • They are aware of the fact that Big Brother Is Watching is hard: 24-hour surveillance only affects the minority Party members (proles, a.k.a. the enormous group of people out in the boonies doing whatever they bloody well please, have no telescreens and in anarchy, but all the books have been burnt or censored, and all the free drinking, prostitution and circuses are making them mentally lazy ala Brave New World / Fahrenheit 451 / Idiocracy, keeping them from being educated), and it is the Party members' fear of being watched that keeps them in line, not necessarily being watched always.
    • Not by technology alone. But ideology and psychology can go much further — Europe was under some control by the Catholic church and a few monarchs for quite a few centuries, after all.
    • This is established in the novel; the very fact that Winston's house has a convenient little gap between the wall and the telescreen where he can sit and write in his diary is proof that the Party's surveillance systems are not 100% foolproof. However, like many of the "X is not foolproof" entries on this page, the answer can be found in the simple fact that while there may indeed be lots of gaps between what the Party can do and what the Party wants its citizens to believe it can do, like many modern totalitarian societies the Party has lots of tools and skills at hand to make their citizens believe whatever they want to believe. The Party controls most-if-not-all of the sources of information in Oceanian society; when every single information source you have is constantly bombarding you with the 'fact' that the government is omnipotent and omniscient and knows exactly what you're doing every single second of every day, eventually you're going to start believing it. The Gestapo didn't literally have men on every street corner, but they convinced a hell of a lot of German citizens that they did. Joseph Stalin wasn't a benevolent, all-knowing and loving god-figure, but he managed to convince a lot of Soviet citizens that he was. Propaganda and ignorance can be very good at convincing people to accept the impossible. And the fact that the Party is more than willing to arrest, torture, brainwash and shoot anyone who might say otherwise also helps convince people to accept the impossible, for their own health if nothing else.
    • No-one is actually observed 24 hours a day. There's just a possibility that anyone can be observed at any time. The effect is pretty much the same.
      • Which would mean the proles would be excellent breeding, incubating and recruiting ground for radical militant religious ideologies - Islamism comes first to mind. Squalor breeds religiosity, poverty fuels fanaticism and overall dysfunctionality of the society feeds radicalism. Orwell's mistake was to assume all religions are mainstream Christianity: they are not. The more blood and snot the Earthly live is, the more alluring is the pie in the sky - not to speak about 72 lusty virgins! The harder the Oceanian government and Thought Police attempted to fight and weed out religious radicalism, the stronger it would get. That is easily observable in the Real Life, where hard line secular dictatorships tend to get toppled and replaced by fanatic theocracies.
      • Not to speak about disgruntled war veterans. The continuous, ongoing, endless war will also produce a horrific number of disgruntled, cynical, disillusioned and embittered war veterans - who are very used to on organizing, fighting, killing and waging war. According to Solzhenitsyn, it was those millions of disgruntled veterans who eventually mutinied at GULA Gs and set the system into chaos at the time of Stalin's death.

    What did Julia see in Room 101? 

  • Julia said that what happened to her there was so bad she had to betray Winston. But we never find out what, leaving it pretty much up to our own minds. Is this a example of Nothing Is Scarier or a author not particularly caring about adding depth to one of its main characters?
  • The whole book is an example of Unreliable narrator. We don't find out what Julia saw because Winston Smith never finds out. As pointed out above, we don't even know whether Julia actually went to Room 101, or whether she was a Thought Policewoman messing with him the whole time. Winston is so broken by then, he may not even care.
  • The point of Room 101 is also that everyone has their own weakness, their own worst fear, their own breaking point. Since Winston is the viewpoint character, the novel focuses on how he is destroyed by Room 101 to make this point. Consequently, since we've seen it work on Winston, we don't need to know precisely what Julia's breaking point was, if even she wasn't an agent all along. All we need to know is that she has one, like everyone else.

    Why was it necessary to release Winston? 

  • I don't quite get the meaning of this "walking ghost" phase. I understand why they did it to well-known high-ranking revolutionaries: Because during their show trial, nobody should think that they only confessed their crimes after torture (though, this being doublethink, everybody knows that). But Winston is a nobody, he is only known by his colleagues, who will likely forget him the next day after he disappeared, like they forgot Syme. So why release him to the general public between his torture and the execution? This does not bring any benefits to the Party, but bears the risk that he might fall back into his "insanity" and do something "silly."

    One might argue that this is necessary so that he completes his "therapy" and starts loving Big Brother. But he could learn it in a more isolated and controlled place like a special camp. And, after the Party has achieved this, why should they execute Winston in the first place? They have brainwashed him utterly and completely to accept doublethink and love B.B. So they could just keep using his workforce since he is harmless now.

    The Party does not seem like doing things For the Evulz, and I see reasons behind each other of their actions, so this seems off.
  • They release him because they have nothing to worry about regarding any of this at all, and there's no risk at all. It is, if you will, a final cruel little joke at his expense — Winston could indeed use this opportunity of freedom to 'fall back into insanity' and renew his struggles against the Party — but they're certain he won't, because they're certain he's been completely broken down and is no longer capable of resisting. And they're absolutely right. Even if he's too shattered to realize it, O'Brien and the Party are providing him with the final, ultimate proof that the Party is all omnipotent and all-powerful, that they can completely crush the will of anyone they choose. As for why they kill him... It's what they do. He's pretty clearly an alcoholic shell of a man at the end, no use to anyone despite his newfound love for Big Brother. They've broken him so completely that all that's left is to get rid of him.
  • "The object of power is power." It is the ultimate exercise of the party's total dominion over Winston to release him into society, outside of their custody. Why kill him eventually? Because he doesn't exist, he's an unperson. He can't actually be allowed to mix with real people, outside the Chestnut Cafe.
  • During Winston's last meeting with Julia, he puts his arm around her waist. Though there weren't any telescreens nearby, people could see them. But "[i]t did not matter. Nothing mattered." He figures that they could have sex right there, out in the open, if they wanted, but the thought of it freezes his flesh (sexual pleasure no longer exists for him). He was totally defeated. He knew it, they knew it, and all that was left was the bullet in his head and then death. But even so... He loved Big Brother.
  • In addition to the above, there's a chance that Winston had spoken to someone without the Party's knowledge and inspired that person to take a rebellious attitude. If they release Winston, that would-be rebel might contact Winston again and realize that Winston has been completely broken by the Party. This in turn would demoralize the rebel. He might drop his rebelliousness now to avoid being tortured in the future. The Party is serriously obsessed with power, so even the chance of this scenario playing out is worth it in their minds.

    Why would Parsons' children report him? 

  • Parsons' daughter gets her father vaporised by accusing him of muttering "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. Given Parsons' personality, we're pretty clearly meant to assume she lied about this and take this as just one more example of the dehumanising effect the Party's rule has on children. Only, this strongly implies that Parsons' daughter lied to the Thought Police and got away with it completely, which is kind of baffling. Not only does it seems to run contrary to the obsessive Big Brother loyalty the children displayed, but it paints the Thought Police as rather less competent that they're otherwise made out to be.
    • The only thing that the thought police cares about is that all thought criminals are located and punished, and none gets away with it. It's not their concern if someone did not betray the party and was falsely accused; in any case, it's just one more guy to torture and break. Not because he's a threat to the party, but just For the Evulz. Or what, do you think the Party cares about fair trials or the presumption of innocence?
    • Obviously they don't care about Parsons' well-being, but the fact that they were directly lied to very much seems like something they should care about. They should definitely be concerned that the society they have created is apparently breeding a generation that is willing to deceive them, and is getting away with it.
      • Perhaps they did take Parsons' daughter into the Ministry as well, and they just didn't tell Parsons because then he'd know they had put him in unjustly even by Oceanian standards?
    • Of course, the only reason they would take the daughter into the Ministry as well is if they knew that she was lying in the first place. But even if they knew she was lying, the fact that they would still be willing to vaporize someone already so devoted to their cause makes it less a demonstration of their power and more Stupid Evil.
      • The Party may feel it is bad precedent for someone to be accused of disloyalty without being punished; it might spread the idea that it is possible to get away with disloyalty. There might be a general policy that if someone is falsely accused of disloyalty, both the accuser and the accused are taken away to the Ministry of Love. This is administratively simpler, avoiding problems of "he says/she says." The monstrous unfairness of it is desirable as it encourages a sense of helplessness. It discourages thought criminals from trying to deny their crime, because they know it is pointless to do so. In the party's reality, to be accused of a thoughtcrime means you have committed the thoughtcrime. Parsons understands that and has been conditioned to go along with it, so there really isn't a problem.
      • Another possibility is that Parsons' daughter has been whipped up into such a frenzy by her youth group that she actually believes her father has committed a thoughtcrime. The Party may feel that the benefits of encouraging children to betray their parents is more important than the objective truth of those allegations. It may actually be desirable for the Party in general to destroy the power of the older generation and make the younger generation disdain the older generation so that the older generation (which could conceivably still remember a time before Big Brother) cannot pass on any knowledge to the younger generation, which has been more effectively controlled and indoctrinated by the party. Indeed, I'm imagining the party going through several cycles in which each generation destroys the previous generation, until all family bonds are obliterated and there is no longer any way for children to receive information other than through Party educators.
      • Additionally, keep in mind that "the Party is always right." Admitting that Parsons' arrest was a mistake would be tantamount to admitting that the Party can be mistaken, which is thoughtcrime in its purest form.
    • Who says it's a lie? Even Parsons might have had a little shred of rebellion and hatred of Big Brother in him, and an unfortunate tendency to speak in his sleep. It's entirely possible that she was telling the truth.
      • Or maybe he was having a nightmare in which terrible thoughtcriminals were compelling his mouth to say "Down with Big Brother", despite his sincere effort to stop saying it. In which case, his death is even more pointless, because he was saying that phrase in his sleep because he was too loyal, enough so that his subconscious fear of not being that way was voiced in his dreams.
    • Maybe she's lying and they're too dumb/paranoid to realize it. On the other hand, maybe they know she's lying and they're acting on the lie anyway. If she is lying, that means she's willing to throw her own father under the bus in order to be praised by the Party. That's an extreme level of dedication, and the Party is happy to reward such people. They probably figured that Parsons was expendable anyway.

    Love for Big Brother 

  • So the only acceptable love is towards Big Brother. In fact, the Party has even outlawed the enjoyable aspects of sex so devotion is directed toward him. However, what happens if someone masturbated to Big Brother? What happens if he made a doll that looked like Big Brother and had sex with it? What happens if he/she enjoys sex every time they think about Big Brother? Would that still be considered a crime?
    • Undoubtedly, someone would likely be outraged at seeing the "pure and unsullied" name of Big Brother "defiled" in such a vulgar way and have them hauled off to the Thought Police. Don't forget that this is the sort of world where some people will leap at any chance they can get to validate the Party's philosophy through their own exercise of power.

    The Inner Party is just as repressed as everyone else. 

  • The Parties entire philosophy is based on using power for powers sake, all the while none of them individually seem to have any. O'Brien is merely following the orders of a system whose every action is revolving around the use of power. To this troper, this seems like it would create a management that "wants" power it can never have. While there is the cognitive dissonance that let them believe they "were" The Party, even without one person ever questioning their "collective" state this seems like it would lead to internal fighting at best that would lead to near constant executions within the inner party. It seems as though the system would constantly be running into problems, especially if there is no real law. The moment two department heads met up and had a difference of opinion in how Big Brother would run something, it seems as though each would see the other as a threat to "their" power and would have the other one dealt with (viewing the other person as no longer part of the collective "Party") Since they are the embodiment of power itself, they are a bureaucracy which should in theory be completely unwilling to budge at even the smallest point of difference. So at best, it seems like Inner Party members would be constantly having each other kidnapped by the thought police, at worst, even the least bit of individuality that makes it through would make Inner Party members more likely to be terrorists than the proles or the Outer Party members.
    • In a dictatorship, the petty disputes between the supporters are ultimately decided by the providential intervention of the dictator. If there's a need to save a certain amount of money, and X wants to reduce rations of chocolate, and Y wants to reduce rations of meat (both viable solutions to the main problem), then the dictator decides what to do, and that is what is done Because I Said So. That doesn't mean that the unfavored side must be punished, if they accept the outcome and leave it at that. Now, if there's really no big brother, if Oceania is a dictatorship without dictator, that opens a can of worms of potential problems...

    Can someone love Big Brother more than they love the Party? 

  • The only love and devotion the Party allows is to Big Brother, so can you have a person be so utterly devoted to Big Brother than he/she is willing to defy the government of Oceania because they believe they're not following Big Brother's will properly? How would the Party deal with those kind of people? They can't put them in the Ministry of Love and expect them to love Big Brother if they love Big Brother so much already.
    • Of course that they can. Have you heard about Juan Peron, and Peronism? Well, in the 1970's, Argentina had far-right terrorists (the AAA) and far-left terrorists (Montoneros), killing each other in a civil war... And the tragicomic part is that both parties claimed to be the "real" Peronism.
    • Interesting thought. Peasant rebels in China and Russia often mobilized their supporters in the name of the emperor, even as they fought the emperor's armies. (Water Margin provides a major fictionalized example.) Many dissenters in Soviet Russia thought of themselves as real communists resisting perversions of the Soviet government. But in a way, this is what Emmanuel Goldstein is doing in 1984 already (although not for the sake of the Big Brother). This is presumably why the Big Brother does not really exist and the Inner Party members know this.

    Why are the Proles taught to read? 

  • Wouldn't illiteracy be the best way to keep them ignorant?
    • Probably the same reason we teach Proles to read IRL. It's necessary even for pretty much even the most basic grunt level job in the modern world.
      • It's also another means by which the Party's propaganda can be administered. People tend to believe what they read. Someone who can't read is immune to that form of propaganda. They don't need to be taught to read with any level of depth (most Prole reading material, we're told, consists of trashy romance novels and tabloid-type newspapers, maybe with some sports coverage).
      • It can safely be claimed that widespread literacy was the undoing of the Stalinist regime. Literacy enables abstract thinking, and people who are able to think abstractly are able to think outside the box, questionize "self-evident" truths and challenge the ideas. The Czarist regime kept Russians intentionally illiterate, and in 1918 only some 19% of Russians could read and write. In 1953, at the death of Stalin, the percentage was over 90%. But that also meant that the Russians simply no more submitted under completely arbitrary tyranny. The regimes which followed the Stalinist regime were far more relaxed.

    Large Scale Revolution 

  • The Novel makes a very excellent case that this state has almost near control on everything, from people, to products, to war, to politics, to even things like history, science and language. However, the novel only really addresses how the state deals with "Minor" problems. Sure, any government can kill one or two undesirables, maybe even a small crowd of protesters. But what if all the Proles just spontaneously revolt at the same time? What if all of the Outer Party does? What if 70-95% of the Army fighting the other two large states Mutinies? The State of Oceania obviously can kill people easily when their individual or in small quantities. But a large scale revolt, all through out their huge nation, would crumble, wouldn't it? And sure, they've made it so that this kind of thing probably won't happen (Fear of being Invaded by another State, or Arrested by the Party, control over all weapons and media, and constant monitoring of everyone), but you can't predict a spontaneous, national Prole riot all through out the major cities of Oceania, which could happen if one guy looks at another weirdly, or if one guy set himself on fire. If a large Riot where to happen against Big Brother and the Ingsoc regime where to spontaneously happen, wouldn't the regime be screwed?
    • If a large riot happens, the Party will simply kill them all and unperson all and each one of them. The media will of course do not talk about it, and no riot has ever took place. Move Along, Nothing to See Here...
      • With which resources? Minding the continuous Interservice Rivalry between Miniluv and Minipax, the Army - especially if composed of conscripts - would not be too amused to shoot their own citizens. Even NKVD admitted it could control 10 or 20 riots, but 50 would have been too much.
    • With all of the surveillance and resources for keeping the population in check, it wouldn't be too difficult to stamp out a riot before it got too big. Unless you're trying to describe a situation where an overwhelming majority of the population just coincidentally decides to start a riot at the exact same time as everyone else, including people up to thousands of miles away (with whom communication would be impossible) which would somehow be sustainable and a major threat despite a complete and utter lack of prior preparation or coordination between any of the participants, which is just unbelievably ridiculous.
      • Not at all ridiculous - think about Iran's Islamic Revolution.
    • This is addressed in Goldstein's book. The founders of Oceania observed that revolutions are not usually spontaneous, and are usually started by the middle classes, not the proles. The proles are allowed freedom — they can jeer at the public telescreens all they like — but are kept too poor and uneducated to ever do much damage. The Outer Party are kept under constant surveillance, with telescreens in their homes, and any potential revolutionary leader is moved to the Inner Party or taken away for a stint in Miniluv.
      • Religious revolutions usually come like bolts from blue sky. The Iranian Islamic revolution was a prole mass movement led by a skilled demagogue (Khomeini). It came more or less behind the corner: nobody really took seriously a Bronze Age ideology could pose a serious threat to Shah's dictatorship. There would simply be no way of controlling all the basement mosques in Oceania.

    Torture = Love Big Brother? 

  • Now I'm no psychologist, but why would torture make you love someone responsible for your torture? I know for a fact most people at Guantanamo Bay don't like the United States or President Bush. Would it break you down? Yes. Would you be scarred? Definitely. But I don't think it would make you love Big Brother. You might lie and say you love Big Brother just to get out of the torture, but I don't think it would actually do the trick...
    • The way O'Brien presents it, the only person responsible for Winston's torture is Winston.
    • Winston's not just tortured, he's brainwashed. There is a difference.
    • Don't forget about the possibility of Stockholm syndrome. Winston felt love for O'Brien when his pain was relieved after the first torture session (Part 3 Chapter II, right after the 2 + 2 = 5 section), which is a classic example of Stockholm syndrome. It is plausible that the same principle could be transferred to Big Brother. Though it should be noted that Stockholm syndrome was not officially discovered until 1973.
      • There's a brief scene in the movie that actually seems to emphasize this.
    • If the residents of Guantanamo Bay had been raised from birth in a dystopian society with no free speach where the ruling party is entirely devoted to the worship of George Bush...then yes, there's every chance that they would love George Bush. I'm thinking of a memoir of a girl raised in Mao's China during the Cultural Revolution, and she loved Mao because the entire nation was bent on loving Mao. Even when Mao did obviously evil things that hurt her personally, it took her many years before she was able to realize that he had wronged her. Besides, there might be any number of people who actually hate the Party to their dying day and O'Brien simply does't mention them.
  • I have been forced to serve on my country's army as a conscript, and I recognized at the boot camp all classic methods of brainwash. It did not make me to love my country, but to relate to it with complete indifference. What more, the effects of brainwash tend to wear out with time unless enhanced continuously. Today I hate the army and everything it represents. The time my country robbed off my life (solely because of my gender) cannot be compensated in any way.
    • We're still studying brainwashing and its permanance today, though we are of the general consensus that interactions with one's friends, relatives, and anyone not brainwashed is it's antithesis. What happened to Winston has a good chance of wearing off eventually after he's out of Miniluv, but the Party's constant propaganda and general isolation of it's workers might be all the continuous reinforcement he needs, and regardless of what you think happened to Winston, most of the people the party brainwashed are killed shortly after being let out.
  • O'Brien tells him as much in the last stages of temporarily letting him out — the job is completed after he leaves the walls of the Ministry of Love, and gets caught up in the latest turn in the war and grand victory.

    All is Fair in Miniluv and Minipax 

  • Now, the book says that the War between the three Super-States is a ruse so that all three of them can eternally screw over their citizens Big Brother style. But what's to stop one of these three Super States' Inner Parties from deciding to get serious about conquering the other two? The state that conquers the others could easily replace "Enemy State" with "Rebels," they can claim that they're doing it for the strength of their party and glory of their Big Brother, and they could continue to screw over their citizens regardless of who rules them. So why hasn't one state just taken over the other two?
    • It is possible that geography and logistics are preventing any of the superstates from being conquered. Any full scale invasion of any of the Superstates would require an extremely large army that is willing to fight. It is very likely that an army large enough to conquer a superstate would be comprised mainly of proles, who would need to be educated on how to use military hardware and likely pick up on subversive trains of thought during this war. It is also mentioned at least once that Oceania has a fleet of unsinkable "Floating Fortresses" and the ability to repel most invasions over sea, which is critical since all of Oceania is separated by water from Eastasia and Eurasia. Eurasia would be difficult to conquer over land due to the geography of Europe and Russia, as the many mountains and rivers, along with the weather, depending on the region, would give the defenders many advantages against invasion. Eastasia likely has a very large population and industrial base. According to official reports within the book, the three superstates are fighting over control of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It would be much easier, or even necessary, for a superstate to conquer these regions before it could get a foothold in any of the other two.
    • However, the above theory would only apply if there really were three independent superstates with oppressive regimes which used the material needs of a war as an excuse to waste vast amounts of resources in order to keep their people in check. As long as resources are spent making military supplies and people die from time to time, no one would know if there was a war or not. Since the Ministry of Truth controls all information that goes out to the public, it is possible that Eastasia and Eurasia don't really exist, that Oceania controls the entire world, or that Oceania only controls Airstrip One. The real state of the world could only be known by the inner party, if anyone. Since the Ministry of Truth changes facts to serve the Inner Party's agenda, it is possible that in reality, a war against the world would be either impossible or unnecessary.
      • (This is one of the most interesting aspects of the entire story. Plenty is said about the world beyond Airstrip One, but all we ever see [through Winston, who isn't that reliable] is London which the Party has complete control over and some countryside beyond the city. There's no telling what else exists beyond that tiny patch... If there's anything beyond there at all!)
      • It's hinted in the book that the Oceanian government sometimes bombs its own people, in order to stir up hatred of the enemy.
    • If one side becomes serious about actually pushing ahead in the war, it's still one against two. There are alliances, but since each side is in it to win (i.e. to be the only winner, not sharing the victory with either of the others) there's plenty of back-stabbing and betrayal to make sure they get everything and the other guy gets nothing, so these alliances collapse and allegiance shifts. Which is how the war is already.

    Big Brother Need Not Apply 

  • Assuming Big Brother isn't real, what if someone claimed they were Big Brother? Like, someone from the Upper Outer Party or the Inner Party just went to the Proles one day and said "I am Big Brother, and you must bow before me", and he looked close enough to Big Brother to pass it off? They couldn't just kill him then and there, because the Proles are dumb and loyal, and anyone trying to kill Big Brother would be an enemy of the State to them. Using Cops to simply arrest him would also make the Proles violently angry. Staging a "Big Brother, you must come with us, it's urgent" lie wouldn't work on "Big Brother" because he'd be too smart, and he could tell the proles that they're trying to kill him (They'd listen to Big Brother over any other official ever).
    • Don't forget that "the Brotherhood" probably isn't real either. Get a couple of expendable patsies to kill the nuisance under the guise of "striking a blow against the Party," then release a statement through Minitru the next day castigating Goldstein and his Eurasian cronies for the assassination attempt on Big Brother during a Rousing Speech while simultaneously praising Big Brother's foresight in sending a body double to lure out his enemies. Inconvenient witnesses can be disposed of quietly in the ensuing "investigation," and later their names can be discreetly slipped into some dispatches from the front lines of the warzone, praising their heroism for dying heroically in defense of Oceania.
    • The proles are not dumb and loyal, they're apathetic. They jeer at the telescreens during the Party broadcasts. But their lives are made just comfortable enough that it's not worth causing trouble. If they really though they were watching Big Brother being killed, I don't think they'd lynch the murderer. They'd just watch. At best, some might call the police. If they saw a lookalike being arrested, they might argue at the pub over whether he was a fake or what actually happened, but as long as the prolefeed keeps coming, they wouldn't actually do anything.
    • I imagine that the Party simply murders anyone who looks remotely like Big Brother, to prevent this exact scenario.
      • Heck, it's possible that the actual Big Brother was murdered in this exact way, because some intelligence service confused him for a look-alike when he was actually the real thing, and after his death the entire machine just kept on spinning without him.
      • Interesting idea for a fan fic, but likely untrue. Big Brother's visage is described in rather vague terms, white male with a dark mustache: Winston and O'Brien could probably both look like him from a distance if they grew mustaches and gained or lost the right amount of weight. Killing anyone who looked or could theoretically look like that in Oceania's primary territories would be a genocide far to large for even the party to cover up, and even if it wasn't, it would deny the party the free advertising in the form of people intentionally showing their devotion to Big Brother by looking like him (an oppurtunity real life regimes, notably North Korea, don't pass up). As for the proposed scenario, it would mean Big Brother went somewhere without a proper security detail, which would be suicidal for someone like him even without such a policy in place.
  • If there was no Big Brother - a charismatic, arbitrary, whimsical and iron-fisted tyrant - in the country, an oligarchic dictatorship would quickly fall apart into petty squabbling factions. Real Life dictatorships are always based on strongmanship and personification of power. Oligarchies are not ruled by committees, but by iron fist. Without a charismatic leader, such regime would quickly collapse into anarchy. USSR was on the verge of collapse after the death of Lenin, and after the death of Stalin. Such regimes either collapse completely, or get democraticized, without a charismatic strongman.

    So why even bother with the whole brainwashing procedure..... 
  • .....when the Party is gonna shoot each Thought Criminal in the end anyway? I dunno, it always seemed like a huge waste of ressources for me, both with the brainwashing procedure (which was stated to take months and also included nursing up the victim) and killing perfectly indonctrinated people afterwards, who would be willing to do anything for Big Brother. So again, what's the reasoning behind this?
    • I think this has been hashed out a bit above, but since it's a pretty long page, the short answer is that the Party is fixated on power for its own sake. Breaking someone down psychologically and rebuilding them into a puppet according to your demands is possibly, to the Party at least, the ultimate expression of control; it's taking someone's internal, private thought processes and completely rewriting them to suit your purposes. As O'Brian says, for Big Brother it's not enough that you obey him; you must love him, and if you don't he'll completely crush you until you do. As for why they shoot you, if you rebelled against Big Brother once before, you could do so again; why take the risk? This is slightly contradictory and illogical, of course, but another element of the novel is that the Party also works by getting people to believe two contrasting ideas simultaneously, no matter how illogical.
    • This discussion was back in high school, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall the "bullet entering his brain" line to have been metaphorical. He wasn't physically shot, but the person he was—his individual thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc—were as good as, and that's when it really began to sink in that he had been fully broken into being just another cog in Big Brother's machine.

    Who or what really is the Big Brother?. 
  • The novel does not leave clear the actual identity of the Big Brother. Is him Oceania's head of state, a past (founder?) (likely) long-dead member of the Party who become what is , simply an allegory that represents it, or a combination of two or all those possibilities. Supporting somewhat the latter there's an scene where Winston while working can't remember the figures given by Big Brother in an speech and have to forge them from scratch, reinventing history.
    • That's the point. We don't know who or what Big Brother really is because Winston doesn't know who or what Big Brother really is. Every single bit of information in the book beyond what Winston can actually see is unreliable. Either way, it doesn't matter; regardless of what Big Brother is, his ideals and influence won't be going away any time soon. Orwell was vague about BB's true nature on purpose, as the Party is so powerful that they can essentially bend reality to their will- Big Brother exists and always will exist whether he exists or not... because they say so. All we can really say is that it's likely Big Brother isn't an actual person based on how O'Brien describes him.
      • BB's primary inspiration was Hitler and Stalin, and he'd referred to in context of Goldstien and others, who were founding party members. Presumably he worked to found the party, then after getting rid of all his potential competitors, set himself up as head of state at which point he adopted his monicker. Whether or not he's dead is intentionally mysterious though (though knowing Orwell, if it's suggested, it's probably true), but it's clear that the people are supposed to believe he's still alive, as he's still giving speeches and is still watching.

    Why Wait to Kill? 
  • Honestly, this whole society is so repressed that even the idea that someone might even have an inkling of rebelliousness in them is enough to get them a visit from the Thought Police who will then Torture, and then Kill them. So why even bother waiting for their to be proof of rebelliousness in any of the Outer Party members? Why not just brainwash them all completely, and then at random just kill them? I understand they need people to work for them, but the brainwashing might actually help with that, and it's not like them not having the Outer Party removes their metaphor of being Boots that stomp on the face of humanity, as the Proles still exist. Hell, they don't even bother trying to Brainwash the Proles, they just outright kill them and unperson them! So why bother waiting to brainwash and kill them?
    • Don't give the party any ideas. Seriously, judging from what we're told about the history of Oceania, their purges started out the same way they did in Russia, as honest attempts to remove political dissidents from an otherwise pure group of patriots. What you suggest would fall in line with what O'Brien claims to be the party's idealogy these days, but it may not have occurred to them yet, or if it did, the person who suggested it was killed for having an unorthodox thought. Also, while it does seem that statistically speaking, at least the majority of Outer Party members will be arrested at some time, and what they're already doing has to be a serious drain on their resources, waiting for "proof" of Thoughtcrime at least allows them to bottleneck the number of people Room 101 has to be set up for, and target the most likely to rebel sooner.
    • This question and several variations on it above miss something: 1984 is not only a satire of Stalinism and Naziism, it is also a satire of earlier Church-based tyrrany like the Inquisition. The Inquisition did not only want to kill you, it wanted to torture you into accepting its dogma utterly. 1984 satirizes the entire religious mindset with things like double-think, where one believes dogma while silmultaneously acting based on a scientific, athiestic mindset. Once you understand that Orwell was an atheist living in a far more religious time, little details of the story make far more sense. O'Brien himself is clearly an Inquisitor: a man obsessed with a dogma that he will go to insane lengths to get you to believe, even if doing so is impractical.

    They Wasted a Perfectly Good Prole 
  • It's hashed out above that the Party has to treat the proles with some degree of respect, or at least caution, because if they piss them off too much they will topple the party through sheer numbers. Though considering that their whole philosophy is dedicated to power for power's sake, shouldn't they still be trying to enroach on the proles whenever possible? They should at least make damn sure the vast majority of proles believe everything the party says and support their wars. And what about banning alchohol, social setting like pubs or sporting events, and speaking about the past? What about encouraging children to spy on their parents like they do the inner party (spying for free). What about finding sneaky ways like bioweapons or eye-color genocides to massacre them by the hundreds of thousands every year, instead of occasional missle strikes that kill nary a few and will probably hurt the party more in the long run, as the proles become frusterated with their leaders inability to defeat the enemy that murdered their friends?
    • That's because you're thinking from the mindset of our world, not a prole. Our world has alternatives, free eduation, better countries, a future that isn't dominated by a single government. The proles have been stated again and again to be utterly uncaring about any developments, only fighting to survive and living to enjoy what scant pleasures they are afforded like cheap alcohol and porn. Hell, most are implied to be really stupid, possibly because of poor nutrition and propaganda. So why would you try to do anything to snap them out of a harmless state? Educate the proles, and they might change. What if you try doing atrocities to them or their children, which snaps them out of their apathy and leads to the Party's worst fear, a massive uprising? What if you take away their pleasure and they decide to protest or even scheme to try and get them back? What if they stop working? (remember, the proles are the ones in the manufacturing and menial jobs) And if the proles get frustrated by a few scant missiles, how do you think they would react to a bioweapon attack? Everything is done carefully to ensure that the proles are harmless, the equilibrium cannot be disturbed.
    • See also: Dystopia Is Hard and Bread and Circuses. The amount of infrastructure and policing needed to keep an Outer Party member in constant surveillance and eternal torture is extremely expensive to the point that the Book admits "Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police." The Proles comprise 85% of the population, so if you expand Outer Party surveillance to every individual Prole then you basically signed Big Brother's suicide note. The purpose of the repression against the Outer Party is that it keeps the most likely to rebel against the Inner Party isolated from the Proles as a pseudo-middle class so that they can be kept in perpetual surveillance as to be unable to corrupt the Proles to rebel. Also, as for the Proles, why the fuck would you ban pleasure AKA the only thing keeping them ignorant and loyal to the Inner Party. The basis for keeping the Proles in hedonism is to ensure that they do not care about intellectual or political pursuits; once you deprive them of that, then Ingsoc as a whole is DEAD. The Outer Party are deprived pleasure exactly because they're a threat. The Proles are given pleasure so that they would remain loyal to the Inner Party.
  • I guess you're both right; there is a difference between a hard life with a few pleasures to cling to and a living hell, the only escape from which is a war you know you can win. The fact that the proles don't seem remotely concerned with the war that comes to their doorstep once a week and the fact that the Party otherwise is written as invincible and capable of anything is what throws one for a loop.

    Who's Inner Party? 
  • Who gets recruited into the inner party; psychopaths, or smart people? Or to the book are they interchangeable? In letter, the book explicitly states the latter, but also points out that even Inner Party members are not above being purged, and that smart people who try anything new get purged quickest. The party's prediliction towards sadism and lies (not to mention O'Brien) also suggest the former, but psychopaths don't love anybody, including Big Brother, and will tear any party they're a part of apart quickly through Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder. Perhaps this book was written before Hitler and Stalin were fully psychoanalyzed and the exact thing mentioned above happened to the USSR, but it still seems like a major contradiction in his design of the dystopia to have it run either by smart people who get killed if they're smart, or amoral, loveless people who have to be willing to die for a cause they know screws them over.
    • Smart people, but smart people who hate humanity more than they like themselves, and understand that trying to improve their position through back-stabbing or taking bribes will destabilize the party, and make it possible that humanity will suffer shorter, and less intensely. Not terribly realistic, but Orwell had only speculation as to what the people running the Soviet Union were like, and O'Brien does assert that hate can make someone just as selfless as love, and that the party can condition people to do anything, and it's clear the audience is supposed to agree with him.

    Nineteen Eighty-Four is a Satire 
  • Contrary to some of the more absurd Fridge Horror claims made for the Party, it can't actually bend reality. It can only bend people's perceptions of reality, and even then, it can only do so by means of propaganda and torture. It may be able to torture Winston into thinking that O'Brien can float off the ground like a soap bubble, but it can't actually make O'Brien do that (not without Kirby wires and a harness, anyway.) Party members have to be obey physical laws, the same as everyone else: Oceanian military aircraft have to be built in accordance with the laws of physics, Floating Fortresses have to be seaworthy, etc. Even if you believe that there's no actual war going on, and that the Party is bombing its own citizens (so it doesn't really need airworthy aircraft or seaworthy ships), it still needs its propaganda technology to work properly. Telescreens are on a network, and networks can be hacked. There is no reason for Winston to think rebellious thoughts about the Party, other than it occurs to him to, and if it occurs to him, it can occur to someone else.
    • Orwell didn't intend the Party to seem like some genuinely omnipotent Eldritch Abomination. He knew his Jonathan Swift, and he was writing a satire. O'Brien's passages about the Party being all-powerful are not meant to be taken as Word of God, but are a blackly comic lampoon of the absurd arrogance of political ideologues who think that everything will be solved if only the right people have political power. O'Brien doesn't deal in Realpolitik: he, and Party members like him, are out of their minds. The reason why everyone doesn't regard 1984 as a satire is that Orwell didn't have much of a sense of humour.

    Why Would George Orwell Write Such A Massive Downer Dystopia Novel? 
  • While Nineteen Eighty Four raises a lot of good points about how dictatorships rise, hold on to power and use language, psychology, propaganda, etc. and such... Why does Orwell write the dictatorship as a super-invincible Eldritch Horror that is incapable of being overthrown? Why write something so grim that it seems to actively discourage the reader from embracing humanity's higher ideals and work to better things? The novel not only subverts many of the tropes of La Résistance, You Cannot Kill An Idea, etc. but seems to come across as saying "Making the world a better place is futile and all revolutions will be a Full-Circle Revolution so why bother trying?" It seems Orwell was a hardcore believer in Humans Are Bastards, which only solidified when he caught TB. Why do we consider such a bitter, misanthropic, hopeless book such a popular masterpiece, anyway?
    • Perhaps because it subverts tropes like La Résistance, You Cannot Kill An Idea, etc. Perhaps because outside of popular fiction tropes, most totalitarian states aren't just backdrops for some plucky young idealist to undergo a hero's journey that will lead them to rebel and near-singlehandedly overthrow the system while at the same time getting embroiled in a love triangle that lends itself conveniently to shipping; they're oppressive, bleak, grim places that most people have to find some way of surviving and existing within. Perhaps because not every piece of great art has to reflect humanity's higher ideals and work towards better things but can also remind us of how bad things can get, and suggesting that it should is perhaps just as limited and simplistic an idea of art as True Art Is Angsty.
    • It's a masterpiece because it helps us understand how tyranny works, and understanding how it works is the first step to preventing/dismantling it. Thanks to Orwell, we now recognize concepts like "doublethink" and "thoughtcrime" far more readily than we used to. Thanks to Orwell, we're all much more well-versed in the dangers of total suveilance and the importance of free speech. (Of course there's been a "surveilance creep" with the internet, but at least people realize that this is something to be concerned about!) Thanks to Orwell, we better sympathize with people stuck in totalitarian systems and we're more motivated to help defend them from those systems. (The recent efforts to help Ukraine resist Russian invasion are largely based in the feeling that Russia would restrict Ukrainian freedoms and that would be a Bad Thing). Orwell didn't invent the idea of resisting tyranny, but he certainly advanced the idea. Now I know that sounds backwards, because the plot of the book is that resisting tyranny fails. But he's not saying that defeating tyranny is impossible; he's just saying it's difficult. He wants people to see the full scale of the problem, implicitly challenging them to find some way to solve it. He didn't believe that humans are bastards at the deepest level; he just believed that there's way too much bastardry in the world and he wrote 1984 to confront us with that.
  • Also; If the real meaning/purpose of the novel is more hopeful and positive, why write it in such a twisty way rather than spell out explicitly what he meant? Here we are, over several decades, discussing it and it's meaning and conjuring up all these theories. What if George Orwell was merely messing with us for funsies? Perhaps the previous idea of the WMG above this one....about Nineteen Eighty Four being little more than a piece of absurdist satire than anything to take seriously....probably is the true meaning and we've been trolled dupes all along, like folks who analyze The Beatles "I Am The Walrus", Un Chien Andalou or Jabberwocky. Otherwise, Orwell just comes off as an edgelord who wouldn't be very fun at parties.
    • Orwell was a socialist who'd been shot in the throat by other socialists during a revolutionary war because they felt he wasn't the right kind of socialist, had lived in a country and city that had been bombed almost nightly for five years, and was slowly dying of tuberculosis. Chances are, he probably wouldn't be very fun at parties. But in his defence, he was also probably grappling with what he thought were some very bleak and grim yet important issues, so was probably not that concerned with whether or not people would think he was cool seventy years after he died.
  • Personally; A better book for Orwell to write would be something akin to Nineteen Eighty Four but with elements that provide hope or solutions and maybe suggested ideas on how to make a Revolution not be a Meet The New Boss/etc. situation. It can be done and past dictatorships have fallen in the past and the world of Nineteen Eighty Four couldn't possibly last forever from an economical, political or environmental standpoint. Frankly; In a time when totalitarians are running amok, the world needs a book that inspires and not only shows how dictatorships rise but also, gives the people the tools to make things right. The world needs a book that takes the good aspects of Nineteen Eighty Four but combines it with a more humanitarian Humans Are Flawed view of humanity that recognizes the Full-Circle Revolution and gives ideas on how to best subvert the latter.
    • To be frank, this comment tends to (a) mistake "the quality of the book" with "the book I'd prefer to read"; (b) doesn't seem to quite get the perspective that Orwell was trying to take; and (c) like many comments on this page, fails to acknowledge the benefit of hindsight it's viewing the world with that Orwell never had access to. To address them:
    • (a): Not liking the book or disagreeing with it is a perfectly valid response, but Orwell wrote the book he wanted to write, which reflected his worldview and which he felt that the world needed to hear, and the fact that this doesn't necessarily mesh with your worldview or the stories you think need to be told is not, of itself, a failing. That Orwell's worldview in this book is pretty grim and bleak is hard to argue — but then, so's living in an oppressive failing totalitarian state most of the time, frankly. Yes, the world needs stories that encourage us to fight and rise above totalitarianism, but maybe it also needs stories which remind of why totalitarianism is horrible, bleak and needs to be fought against in the first place, like Nineteen Eighty Four. And saying that Orwell writing the book you'd prefer to read would make it "better" is, frankly, arrogance that borders on the breathtaking; it's widely considered one of the most important, influential and significant works of English literature in the twentieth century, so while you might not like or agree with it plenty of people seem to think it's doing something right.
    • (b): You fail to consider that maybe Orwell isn't aiming to provide his readers with "hope" or "solutions" or "suggested ideas". That maybe the whole point of the book is simply to give his reader an insight into what it is like to be an ordinary citizen living in an oppressive, failing, totalitarian state where hope is thin on the ground. Because sad fact is, most people living in totalitarian states aren't going to be able to handily join the local resistance movement and bring down the oppressive government, because they're too frightened, or they've drunk the Kool Aid, or because they're a hapless boob who doesn't really know what they're doing and the government's sussed them out, or because the revolutionaries aren't anywhere near them, or whatever reason. And that's a perfectly valid perspective for Orwell to show. You might not like it, but frankly there's more Winston Smiths in the dystopias of the world than Katniss Everdeens.
    • (c): Past dictatorships have indeed fallen — but the ones that were influencing Orwell hadn't when he was writing the book. And the major totalitarian state that had fallen in the context that Orwell was writing in had needed a massively destructive and destabilising world war to take it down, had spent a good chunk of five years bombing Orwell's beloved home country into dust and rubble, and another equally horrible totalitarian state had just taken over a good chunk of the continent that the previous totalitarian state had been dominating, thus perpetuating a rather unpleasant cycle. Orwell had no way of knowing that in fifty years or so, the Soviet Union would basically peacefully fold like a paper towel; from where he was looking, it was going to take an even more destructive and destabilising world war, possibly involving widespread use of the most powerfully destructive weapons ever created by man, to take it out. So while Orwell might not have been terribly fun at parties and might have seemed like an "edgelord" to someone sitting in comfort in front of their computer in a period of relative peace and stability, it's perhaps not entirely surprising that his rather grim and bleak worldview on the subject of totalitarian states and the likelihood of them collapsing without massive destruction and horror might have been the way it was, considering that he was living at the cigarette-end of one of the grimmest and bleakest periods of human history. Oh, and was also slowly dying of TB, which probably didn't cheer him up any.
    • The appendix at the end possibly implies that the Party did eventually fall.
  • Word of God is that he was seriously ill, and tinkered with it for too long, and simply lost control of it in the writing. After he'd finished it, he described it in a November 1948 letter to his friend Anthony Powell as a "good idea ruined".

    O'Brien and Thought Crime 
  • Now, I know O'Brien is a part of the Inner Party, and I know he's intentionally getting people to join a fake revolution with the intent of torturing, brainwashing, and killing them off... But then I remembered that this is the Political Organization that actively arrests, tortures, brainwashes and kills people for even the tiniest suspicion of 'betraying' the party. And O'Brien is actively releasing material to would-be traitors that are critical of the party, the government, and the state of the nation. So, is O'Brien gonna one day be arrested, tortured, brainwashed and killed for being a 'traitor'? Are all special ops of the Thought Police, especially if they work with capturing Thought Criminals like this, gonna get the same treatment as Outer Party 'traitors'? Or is the Inner Party immune to this kind of purging?
    • I wouldn't be surprised. The upper echelons of the Soviet leadership under Stalin weren't immune to being purged at one of Stalin's whims anymore than than anyone else; they just had more privileges.
    • Not necessarily. What O'Brien is doing is essentially like a sting operation. You know how the US government sets up fake terrorist sites to get 'would-be' terrorists to join up and then arrests them on the spot? That's really what it boils down to, and the people involved in that know enough of the other side to have a fake information pool to lure would-be enemies. But those people specifically don't really become a part of the enemy, they have simply been brainwashed enough to know that their side is the only true one.
    • I always had the thought that the Party was killing everyone who was old enough to remember a time before the Party; that is the real reason Preston had to go. Then, they could control the past because no one could remember it.

    The Price of Power 
  • Why would anyone want to be a part of the Outer Party? Proles are usually satiated and left alone and all the real power is with the Inner Party. So why would anyone want to join the Party when the work of the Outer Party is pure torture?
    • I thought that the novel made it pretty clear outer party membership was based either on heritage (the case with Parson's children), or on conscription for those around before the Party like Winston. Quitting your station in the Outer Party is obviously Thoughtcrime.

    Are the Proles aware of the brainwashing the Outer Party is being put through? 
  • The book states that Big Brother and the Inner Party focus all their brainwashing and anal-retentive monitoring on the Outer Party, leaving the proles merely conditioned into apathy (presumably this is to save on telescreens). However, if the Proles are aware that the Outer Party is being brainwashed like this, then there's no way they could be apathetic to something like that. Even if they were simply nihilistically defeatist towards the fact that they live under a government like that, surely some prole somewhere would eventually bring up the brainwashing in a conversation with an Outer Party member, such as in an argument over a bar tab. "Pay me already you indoctrinated bonehead!" But even if the Proles aren't aware that the Outer Party is being indoctrinated, it's only a matter of time until someone does find out. I don't recall there being a rule against Proles fraternizing with Party Members for example (admittedly it's been years since I read this book), so imagine this situation: a Prole goes to the house of a friend who happens to be an Outer Party member (who presumably has opted to simply doublethink away the fact he's supposed to think of his friend as a subhuman mongrel) for a game of cards, and keeps getting distracted by the friend's nifty telescreen. At one point he overhears the "Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia." message from it. Next week he goes back, only in the time since they've switched to Eastasia. Since he's a prole, he wouldn't have been given the necessary programming to simply swap out the one set of facts for the other, so he'd definitely notice this. At first he might simply think he misremembered what the telescreen said last week (Eurasia and Eastasia have very similar names, after all), but over time he'd notice all the other self-contradictions, such as a decrease in the chocolate ration being later mentioned as an increase, or all those retroactively-changed predictions the party makes for economic figures. He's going to start getting suspicious...
    • The Party's philosophy on the matter would probably be that it doesn't matter; Oceania is obviously not a democracy, so as long as the Proles don't hate their government enough to risk the anhililation of everything they love by violently rebelling, (which won't happen so long as the Proles have food and entertainment) it won't matter to them if the government officials are all indoctrinated zombies (in theory, knowing how much the Outer Party has it worse than them could even make them less likely to rebel because they'll have someone to look down on). Actual Outer Party members already know that the Proles don't think very highly of them, and would hopefully just take 80% of the country's population thinking they're morons and their government corrupt as a sign of how much more enlightened they are working under Ing Soc and how much the Proles need their wise leadership. Of course, the Party's opinion on the matter could be totally wrong; some Proles might decide those above them being brainwashed means that they need to think for themselves and gain followers (especially since the constant state bankruptcy and perpetual war and bombings means Proles do have a stake in the running of the government.) Constantly hearing directly and indirectly from most of the population that doesn't have telescreens in their rooms that their leaders are evil and what they hear from Minitruth is nonsense could also cause a portion of the Outer Party too large for the Thought Police to snuff out one at a time to start questioning things, which would create exactly the sort of threat of middle-class insurrection Ing Soc is terrified of. But the former belief in more in line with the Party's political cynicism and overconfidence.
    • I would assume that the Thought Police hasnote  plans for such instances as well. However, I don't think they would really assign high odds to something like it happening, because for such a case to be a threat would require 1) an Outer Party member to disregard implicit orders not to fraternize with the Proles, 2) a Prole and an Outer Party member to take a liking to each other, 3) a Prole to visit the home of an Outer Party member several times in relatively rapid succession, 4) the Prole to notice the discrepancies in the telescreen propaganda, 5) the Prole not to voice their suspicions in the company of a Party member or near a telescreen for whatever reason, 6) the Prole to realize what it all means, and crucially 7) gain a following. Granted, it could happen if the Prole had about genius-level intelligence, though that might lead to a catch-22: if the Prole is a genius, why does s/he need to notice discrepancies in propaganda to turn against Ingsoc? Or alternatively, why hasn't s/he been liquidated by the Though Police covert agents by that point already?

    Something I discovered thanks to this page 
  • I always was under the impression the novel's world was really as described there, with three Superstates and territories that change hands in the war between them. However, as someone has noted here, all that we've as proof of its existence are both the Party's propaganda and Goldstein's book, that O'Brien during Wiston's torture both claims to have helped writing and that is nonsense outside the theory described there (sort of), and since the action does not stray outside both London and its surroundings there's no way to know what's the truth, so for all we know Oceania could be just Airstrip One and keep bombing its people to have them believing they're at war, as Julia suggests. With that in mind, the novel reads rather differently and has a new depth as we are still less sure about what's truth and what are just lies. And given how the Party considers Proles, the former bombing the latter is quite logical.
    • It's a good lesson to keep in mind. If tyrants are untrustworthy, and you get all your info from the tyrant, anything might be true! Perhaps there are people who physically escape Airstrip One and find freedom elsewhere. Likewise there are people who escape North Korea and discover that South Korea is way better than they'd been led to believe. I once read about a cult leader who convinced his followers that he would murder them with a Kill Sat if they ever ran away. Some of them ran off anyway, though they were terrified that the Kill Sat would get them at any moment, only to gradually realize that the Kill Sat never existed in the first place...