Natalie Frank has a Ph.D. in Clinical psychology. She specializes in Pediatric Psychology and Behavioral Medicine.
1984: The Beginning
At the beginning of "1984," these words are presented as the official motto of the nation of Oceania:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
— George Orwell, 1984
These slogans were created by an entity known only as “The Party,” which consist of those in charge of the country. The words are written in enormous letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, which considering that they are obvious contradictions, seems to be an odd place to put them.
The fact that this motto is written on a government building for a department called the Ministry of Truth suggests that the author is trying to convey that these statements are somehow true for the society he has constructed. These are just the first in a series of contradiction written throughout the book and they serve to represent the nature of the society and how it is held together through the way in which these opposites function.
Orwell opened his book in this way on purpose in order to introduce the reader to the concept of Doublethink, which is what allows the people of Oceania to live with constant contradictions in their lives. Doublethink is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s mind simultaneously.
The Party develops this ability in it’s citizens by undermining their individuality, independence and autonomy and by creating an environment of constant fear through propaganda. In this way, the Party breaks down their ability to think rationally and makes citizens accept and believe anything they tell them, even if it is entirely illogical.
The book is filled with similar contradictions like the ones seen in the opening quote. For example:
- The Ministry of Peace oversees war
- The Ministry of Love carries out the torture of political prisoners and serve as the police of Oceania
- The Ministry of Truth is in charge of changing the content in history books and in the news to agree with the Party’s beliefs
These contradictions keeps the citizens constantly off balance, so they are never sure of themselves or each other and must rely on the party for guidance as to how to live their lives.
The fact that the national motto of Oceania is just as contradictory as these other examples emphasizes the success of the Party’s campaign of psychological mind control. The government has become able to maintain the apparent veracity of these opposing statements because the functions they serve which make them a reality in the society of Oceania.
What Is the Meaning of "War Is Peace" in 1984?
The first slogan is probably the most contradictory of the three. The people of Oceania believe that the saying War is Peace means that in order to have peace one must tolerate the horrors of war. It does not equate the two as the statement might otherwise suggest. The people fully believe that war is bad and peace is good.
Yet, as in real life, the people have come to the understanding that sometimes one must make terrible sacrifices in order to have a peaceful nation. The war does not take place on the soil of Oceania but instead, somewhere far from it so they don’t see the horrors of the battle, the destruction, the wounded and dead in front of them. They only hear about it through the daily announcements made by the Party.
While this contradiction may seem like a logical reality at first, it becomes less so when the reader realizes that there is actually no war occurring at all. It is a made up fiction created by the Party just to keep the people in line. It is intended to keep their attention focused elsewhere, so that they do not realize how the Party is controlling their every thought and action.
The motto War is Peace indicates how having a shared enemy unites the people of Oceania and helps them remain on a common course. It gives them something to worry about external to the way the country is being run, that is happening somewhere else. It helps to prevent them from becoming consciously aware of the obvious problems in their own society. This mentality, put in place for the benefit of the Party, gives the people someone other than the government to blame for their problems, making them easier to rule.
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A state of constant war demonstrates that people are sacrificing for the greater good of the society, pledging their effort and money to the war, and devoting themselves to their country and government. From the Party's point of view, all of this is good in that the more people that invest in and commit to their nation and government, the fewer problems they will perceive.
This saying focuses the people's attention, preventing them from being consciously aware of the obvious problems in their own society, where they are being actively manipulated and controlled. If people find themselves having thoughts counter to accepted government rhetoric, they can quickly distract themselves by thinking about the war and worrying over the possibility of attack.
What Is the Meaning of "Freedom is Slavery" in 1984?
The second motto, Freedom is Slavery, represents the message that the party imparts to the community that anyone who become independent of society’s control is bound to be unsuccessful. A society that is based on free will result in chaos and the devolvement of the society. Since the slogan is commutative, if freedom is slavery then slavery is freedom. Here, the Party communicates the message that those who are willing to subjugate themselves to the collective will or the will of the society which by definition is the will of the Party, will be freed from danger and wanting what they can’t have. Society defines what is good, what is acceptable, what is desirable. Those who focus on those things and on fulfilling the will of the society will be free from despair and will lack nothing, at least nothing that society, or the Party, condones.
The Party embodies the idea of a paternalistic structure for those who live in Oceania. Hence, the idea of the Government surveilling it’s citizens being presented under the guise of “Big Brother.” Adherence to the ideals and rules are ensured by this individual, who is presented as a family member and who is supposed to only have the best interests of the people in mind.
In order to survive in this society, the citizens must ignore the clear reality that Big Brother is certainly not a family member showing concern, but is rather the government spying on everything the citizens do in order to control them. The Party even interprets facial gestures and nonverbal communication and the people can be tortured as political prisoners because of behavior interpreted as subversive.
The obvious contradiction here is that it is only by enslaving yourself to the government and whatever they condone that you are free from harm and imprisonment. Freedom in Oceania means the freedom to do and think what the Party wants without deviating from their rules and regulations.
What Is the Meaning of "Ignorance is Strength" in 1984?
There is also the need for the citizens to subvert their will and their awareness to accept the contradictions the government puts forth. They are expected to bury the truth and accept irrationality such as is demonstrated in the three statements. Ignorance is therefore strength as it is the willing ignorance of the people who ignore obvious contradictions. They fail to investigate such inconsistencies as a non-existent war with an ever changing enemy.
It is this ignorance that maintains the power of the government and the seeming coherence of the the society. It is only through ignorance that people can find the strength to live in a totalitarian society where the government oppresses them even while communicating to them how fortunate they are.
What Are the Themes in 1984?
When first reading these three slogans, most people scratch their heads wondering how conflicts that can arise from equating two opposites. But the idea of contradiction is one of the main themes of the novel. In particular, specific themes include:
- A shifting definition of freedom and enslavement
- The nature of trust and true loyalty
- What reality is and how it is affected by appearances
All of these themes are contradictory, yet they power the plot of the novel.
Shifting Definitions of Freedom and Enslavement
One idea presented in Orwell's book is expressed in the saying:
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The government has grown to become omnipotent, writing its own version of reality by changing the content of history books, and making the people too fearful to think critically.
The Party is so powerful that when it says 2+2=5, the people accept this and come to mindlessly believe it. When the Party declares that Oceania is at war with Eurasia, they distribute heaps of propaganda and edit records so that the people accept that this is how it is and has always been. When the government then says Oceania is at war with Eastasia and has always been at war with them, the people allow their reality to be changed and accept this as true. Not only that, but they accept that Eurasia has always been their ally.
Even so, the people do not perceive any of these contradictions as a type of enslavement. They willingly let the Party tell them what to think, what to believe, what to value, and how to act. They allow the government to change these ideals whenever they choose, believing the new propaganda as fact and repressing the previous reality.
The people must be aware on some level that they are accepting clear opposites, reversals of what is presented as fact, and revisions of history. Yet they have come to accept this as a small price to pay for safety from their assigned, feared enemy.
It is almost as if the government sometimes changes reality just because they can. There is no need to change a fictional enemy, as the entire war is made up anyway. Creating a new contradiction for the people seems sometimes to be done just because the Party is able to do so, and because it keeps the population on its toes. The government has not only come to rule completely, but has reached a point where it takes pleasure in enslaving people so they do, say, and believe whatever their master tells them.
The nature of the relationship between the Party and its citizens is very much like slavery. The people must serve the government, and any attempt to “escape” with independent thought is brutally punished. The people are valued only insomuch as they benefit the government.
In 1984, Winston, the protagonist, and Julia, his lover, secretly attempt to escape from the mind control of the government in a room they rent above Mr. Charington’s shop. They believe the old-fashioned room has no telescreen, a device through which the Inner Party surveils the population.
But in fact the room does have a telescreen hidden behind a painting, and Mr. Charington is actually a member of the thought police. The notion of freedom cannot be maintained as Winston and Julia are attempting to define it. They cannot be free just because they remove themselves from their normal environment and go to a different room. There is no escape.
As the book comes to a close, Winston’s idea of freedom has changed. He no longer has a sense of individual self, he has, in essence, become selfless, a part of the greater society. Now, he is not only compliant with the Party’s dictates, but he wants to be compliant. He loves Big Brother and has no difficulty rejoicing when he hears about a tactical victory in Africa. The author then states that he slips back into a blissful dream where he perceives himself to have a soul as white as snow as he confesses and reports more people to the thought police.
The novel ends by saying that the long hoped for bullet entered Winston’s brain. This does not mean he actually died, but that the independently-minded Winston, whose idea of freedom was freedom from Big Brother and the dictates of the Party, died. This suggests that Winston was willing to give up all that he had fought for and accept being subservient, controlled, and manipulated.
In today’s complex world, it can sometimes feel as if having others take responsibility for making decisions for us would be freeing. We wouldn’t have to struggle with different options or accept the consequences of bad decisions and situations we can’t control. For different people, different degrees of autonomy, responsibility, and consequences contribute to the way freedom is defined. Some may feel free when they have more control over their life, even if it means they have more responsibility. For others, the stress of responsibility hampers their sense of freedom.
More choices may be construed as freedom, while numerous options may paralyze. Thus, freedom may be perceived in different ways by different people. As we see with Winston and Julia, this is even true in the dystopia of 1984.
Trust, Loyalty, and Betrayal
The twisted nature of trust, loyalty, and betrayal is a recurring theme in the novel 1984. Winston is betrayed by Mr. Charrington, O'Brien, and Julia. He also betrays Julia as well as himself. Yet the novel explores the nature of trust and how it plays into loyalty and betrayal. Without trust, there can be no loyalty or betrayal, and trust is almost non-existent in the novel. The characters can never know if they are being observed, either in person or through the telescreen.
It is also impossible to know who is a member of the thought police, and even those who are not part of the thought police often betray others by turning them in. On multiple occasions those closest to one other–such as spouses, siblings, parents, and their children–may betray each other. Yet this is what is expected of the members of this society. Citizens report one another with zeal.
Prior to their arrest and torture, Winston and Julia believe the only true betrayal is the betrayal of the heart, as this is the only kind of betrayal they have control over. They learn that they actually have no control over this type of betrayal either, as in the end they have no choice but to betray each other and themselves. What establishes their loyalty to each other is trust in something outside of the Party and Big Brother, but this idea is eventually broken.
They aren't traitors, though, until the Party makes them traitors through torture, when they confess to betraying the entire society and are forced to further betray anyone toward whom they may feel loyalty. The Party seeks to eliminate potential betrayal at the root by getting rid of all trust and loyalty.
So, the contradiction exists whereby trust and loyalty to other citizens is deemed bad, while trust and loyalty to the Party is deemed good. Moreover, betrayal of the Party is deemed bad, while betrayal of others is deemed good. The irony is that when all loyalty toward other citizens is destroyed, no true loyalty toward the Party can exist either. Still, loyalty based on fear and manipulation is satisfactory to the Party.
Winston believes that despite knowing they will turn against each other and tell the Party what they want to hear about each other's sins, as long as they continue to love one another this will not be betrayal. This is an idealistic and naive viewpoint, since he clearly tells Julia that, once they are captured, there will be nothing they can do for each other.
Truthfully, they can remain loyal to the other by not giving up information. But neither of them consider this an option. When you cannot put another over yourself, or stop yourself from saying something that could harm the other, true or not, not only can there be no trust and thus no loyalty, there can be no love.
The Appearance of Reality vs. True Reality
In the novel, O’Brien tries to teach Winston about the nature of reality under the Party through torture, manipulation, and fear. Winston attempts to hold onto his belief that there is a true reality that cannot be controlled by the Party, especially in relation to the past, which is fixed and a part of people’s memories. O’Brien points out that the Party controls all documents as well as people’s thoughts, so the Party truly can control the past.
This absolute control leads to the assertion that whomever controls the past controls the future, and whomever controls the present controls the past. O’Brien is arguing that the Party’s version of the past is what people believe, and what people believe is truth even if it has no basis in true reality. This is related to the Party slogans in several ways.
O’Brien wants Winston to let go and allow himself to be torn down so he can be reconstructed as a citizen that is loyal to the Party. This ties into the reversal of the traditional idea of freedom and enslavement, as it is only in allowing oneself to become enslaved by the Party, by fully accepting it and its ideals, that one can get rid of the stress and strain involved in fighting against it.
Once one accepts the Party, they no longer have to worry about what to think, how to act, or what to do with their lives. It is all done for them, and they are free from the burden of self-determination. By waging war against self-determination one can find peace. The easiest way to do this is through ignorance, which provides a person with the ability to accept anything the Party wants them to believe. This allows them to be a model citizen, and in this world, that is a strength.
In today’s world we all too often fail to notice that we are allowing ourselves to be enslaved as well. Sometimes this is due to propaganda and the lack of alternative information that is easy to obtain. Other times it may be do to shear laziness and the failure to seek the truth or to let ourselves realize that we are contributing to our own slavery such as when we turn over personal information online without thinking twice.
We register brief outrage when learning of the government’s intrusion into our private lives such as with hidden wires that allow them to access our mobile conversations and data. But we just as quickly let it go without demanding redress, with the excuse that we can’t do anything about it or that that the company in question must deal with it. We let government officials change reality with false facts and fake news and again give lip service to our anger and disbelief but allow them to remain in office saying that is what politicians do and we have to accept the bad with the good.
In other words. we are letting those who lead, those in power, define our reality, at least in part. This is done through whatever means will help them retain power as opposed to what is in our best interests. We accept propaganda that reverses itself similar to the war propaganda in 1984. For instance, whether Libya is our staunchest enemy or ally has depended on if there was benefit to one vs. the other at the time.
We can accept that a nation is our friends one day and our enemy the next, largely by allowing ourselves to remain ignorant. We fail to learn everything we can about the situation, instead, simply believing the position the government tells us to believe. We allow ourselves to be led to wage war on what we know to be reality that is based on manipulated collective memories of events.
This may seem like peace since we don’t have to work to undercover the truth of situations, but it is taking the easy way out and allowing others to define our past, present and future. The only way to find true freedom, peace and strength is to refuse to blindly accept whatever we are told just to keep things simple and non-confrontational.
We need to come to the conclusion that it is time to wage war on such automatic acceptance of manipulated reality. We can take a stance and follow our words with actions, demanding there be consequences for those who attempt to feed the public lies dressed up as alternate facts or who rewrite history according to their own best interests. This is ultimately what will lead to true strength, the abandonment of ignorance and ultimately freedom and peace.
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What Are the Four Ministries in 1984?
Ministries in 1984 are the departments of the government that maintain the status quo. Each of the ministries has a different responsibility. The four ministries and their functions are as follows.
Ministry of Truth
Alters official documents to reflect the artificial reality dictated by Big Brother. Distributes propaganda, controls the flow of new information, and alters documents from the past to make them align with the present.
Ministry of Love
Enforces the rules of the government by carrying out surveillance of Oceania's citizens. Employs the thought police to spy on and capture potential offenders. Carries out the imprisonment and torture of political prisoners.
Ministry of Peace
Carries out all matters of war, including the creation of armies and the creation of weapons.
Ministry of Plenty
Carries out the production of goods like food, clothing, appliances, and equipment.
What Is Facecrime in 1984?
Facecrime in 1984 is committed when a citizen of the Party reveals that they are committing thoughtcrime through the expression on their face. It may also be something that indicates abnormality such as a nervous tic, a look of anxiety, muttering to oneself, for example. Anything that suggests someone has something to hide.
Facecrime can be detected using telescreens, a citizen spy, or a member of the thought police.
What Is Thoughtcrime in 1984?
Thoughtcrime in 1984 is committed when a citizen of the Party thinks "deviant" thoughts, which would include any thoughts that have to do with individuality or freedom. A citizen can be charged with thoughtcrime for simply thinking about thoughtcrime.
Thoughtcrime is detected with telescreens installed throughout Oceania that have both microphones and cameras. Thoughtcrime can also be detected by the inflection of one's voice or the micro-expressions of their face (called facecrime). Members of the thought police, an organization within the Ministry of Love, or a citizen spy may catch someone committing thought crime which leads to the individuals arrest and interrogation.
What Is Doublethink in 1984?
Doublethink in 1984 occurs when a person knows that something is not true, but believes it to be true anyway. One example of the citizens of Oceania using doublethink is if Big Brother were to say that 2+2 equals 5. While mathematical fact says that 2+2 equals 4, through the use of doublethink, 2+2 can equal 5.
Doublethink is a fact of life in Oceania, and must be used everyday in order to survive. The best citizens in George Orwell's dystopian universe are those who have mastered the art of doublethink.
What Is Duckspeak in 1984?
Duckspeak in 1984 occurs when someone speaks without thinking, like a quacking duck. In Oceania, saying that somebody is using duckspeak can be interpreted as either good or "ungood" depending on who is speaking and what they are saying.
If a citizen is saying something in line with the parties ideals then it is good. If they are carelessly saying something against the Party doctrine then it is "ungood" and results in their arrest and interrogations.
What Does it Mean to Be Vaporized in 1984?
To be vaporized in 1984 is to be captured by the thought police for a crime and eliminated. Being vaporized means you not only cease to exist, but have never existed. Once you have been vaporized by the Ministry of Love, the Ministry of Truth goes to work removing every trace of your existence.
Often, those who are vaporized are not even told of their crimes. Instead, they are simply abducted one day, taken to the Ministry of Truth, tortured until they admit to some wrongdoing, asked to implicate others, and vaporized. The cycle continues endlessly, and keeps citizens vigilant when it comes to enforcing Big Brother's rules and ideologies.
In one scene from the book, Winston, is his job at the Ministry of Truth, has to edit an article from the past about a man who was recently vaporized. Since he is now considered an unperson, Winston fills the hole left by this man by creating an entirely fictional character, a decorated war hero. Other departments in the Ministry of Truth go to work making a face for the man, taking pictures of him in professional studios that make it look like he is in some far away, war-torn land. Once this work is finished, the real man is gone, replaced by a fictional one.
What Is an Unperson in 1984?
An unperson in 1984 is a person who has been vaporized and no longer exists (and has never existed). This is the term the Inner Party uses to refer to those they have had removed from society through vaporization.
A large part of Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth is to fill the gaps in history that are left in the wake of unpersons.
- How Has George Orwell's Novel 1984 Come True Today?
Despite being written in 1948, many parts of George Orwell's fictional dystopian society have become reality.
- A Different View of Women in Orwell's 1984
Orwell has been criticized for his misogynistic portrayal of women in 1984. However, a careful look at how the female characters impact the male characters, in particular Winston, and the Party suggests that they have great importance in the plot.
- Why Did Orwell Choose Freedom Is Slavery, Instead of Slavery Is Freedom as the Second Slogan in 1984
In the novel 1984, the slogan "Freedom is Slavery" (positive is negative) as the second slogan in "Nineteen Eighty-Four", seems opposite the other two slogans, "War is Peace" and "Ignorance is Strength" (negative is positive).
- Similarities in the Surveillance Presented in Orwell’s 1984 Compared to the Present Day and Beyond
In the novel 1984, Orwell creates a world where government surveillance is constant. Similarly, it now seems our privacy rights are also limited. Yet in both cases, it is the people who permit it.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is the statement, "War is Peace" a paradox or an oxymoron? Also, what are some examples of paradoxes and oxymorons in literature?
Answer: Many people confuse oxymorons and paradoxes. Both can be recognized in everyday conversation as well as in literature. However, they are not the same thing and have different purposes.
A paradox is a statement or group of statements that may on the surface appear to embody contradictions or seen absurd but upon further reflection be seen as true or at least as something that makes sense. They are contrary to what we normally believe and can make us think about things in different ways or more deeply. They, therefore, are frequently employed as literary devices. An oxymoron is comprised of two opposing or contradictory words that are used for dramatic effect.
War is peace seems like a contradiction and an absurd one at that. War is the most brutal act we can carry out against each other. It is far from peaceful. Sometimes war is necessary to ensure that peace can occur.
Consider the situation where a country is constantly launching missiles at another country, going on stealth raids or other types of limited attacks that may be months apart and each a single occurrence but which still result in the loss of life, property, the constant fear or another attack that causes the population to have to change the way they live to protect themselves from harm and terror when the attacks occur.
This is not a state of peace. So to stop all this, the country being attacked launches a war against the other nation to render it impossible for them to continue the attacks both materially and based on the conditions of either a cease-fire or final agreement. The country that had been previously attacked wins the war following which they now have peace and are free from fear of further attack.
In Animal Farm, also by George Orwell, there is a cardinal rule set forth for all the animals. Part of it states:
“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
This statement seems like it is impossible. First of all, equal is equal; it’s an absolute without a related quantity. You can’t have something that is more equal or less equal. So then, if all the animals are equal, you can’t have some that are more equal. This would imply that some are either better, have more power, have more of a right to make decisions or deserve more resources than others. Again this would not suggest equality.
But in the novel, the government has never treated everyone equally even while stating that everyone is equal. It is akin to the separate but equal doctrine that once justified systems of segregation and the dual education system in the south. It was determined that as long as black children were provided with equal facilities as white children, segregation didn’t go against the Constitution. But these separate schools were anything but equal.
In another, example, In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet states, “I have to be cruel to be kind.” Again being cruel and being kind are considered to be opposite and mutually exclusive such that an action that is cruel cannot be kind and vice versa. We typically don’t see someone who is cruel to us as a kind person.
In this example, Hamlet is speaking about his mother, and his intention to kill Claudius, his Uncle. It will be a tragedy for his mother, who is Claudius’s wife, but Hamlet thinks that killing his father’s murderer will ultimately be the best thing for this mother. So in the greater scheme of things, while it may seem cruel initially, Hamlet feels that the kindness he is doing is far greater.
In another Shakespeare work, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, it says,
“The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave, that is Rainbow in her womb…”
The lines are at once describing the birth, with the earth being the birthplace, and death with the same earth housing Juliet’s tomb. The second life, juxtaposes the idea of a grave, again alluding to death, with a womb, which is associated with birth.
In the poem, My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold by William Wordsworth, is the line:
“The child is father of the man…”
This line seems reversed for it should be the man who is the father of the child. But thinking about it more carefully, it can be seen that childhood and everything that happens during this stage sets the stage for what comes after. So childhood is the basis for adulthood and thus, childhood “fathers” the man or adulthood.
There are numerous examples of an oxymoron in literature, but probably the most obvious one is from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Romeo learns he has fallen in love with an unavailable woman and feels as if he has descended into chaos. All his hopes and dreams have been shattered. Shakespeare portrays this sense of discord through the use of opposites that don’t make sense much the same as Romeo’s life no longer makes sense to him. This is communicated through phrases such as loving hate, heavy lightness, serious vanity, feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, waking sleep.
© 2018 Natalie Frank
CommonCents on October 18, 2019:
Natalie said: "Given everything that is going on in the world today and our current President in the U.S. I think so many of the things Orwell wrote about have already come to pass in our society. "
Well Natalie, you are clearly drinking the INGSOC Party Kool-Aid if you think the current president represents the worst of 1984... the previous president (Obama) and his party see 1984 as their bible.
Daniel on May 28, 2019:
Hilarious that both 1984 and Brave New World predicted the future. Even more hilarious that us proles are still allowed to read them as a token freedom of "and what are you going to do about it?".
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on September 15, 2018:
No, you have that reversed, jnjerrynelson. The Inner Party rules Oceania, making up 2% of the population. They are the ones that have the power and make the decisions for the society. The outer party is essentially the middle class and composed of the more educated members of society. They are largely responsible for implementation of the Party’s policies (though this is actually carried out through spying and reporting on each other often aimed at gaining a bit more safety from being arrested) but they have no say in anything. They have strict rules applied to them. The proles are the lower class and have the same rules applied to them they just have less resources and lower level jobs. The inner party is the government.
jnjerrynelson on September 12, 2018:
Hi Natalie - I read the great 1984 many years ago and think about it all the time these days. I'm not sure that this is an original idea, but I've always thought that people missed the point about 1984 in that it is not about the evils of Government, so much as it is about the the Inner Party. The Government, represented by the Outer Party, is simply a tool that the Inner Party uses to maintain control and implement its agenda. The Inner Party is the real enemy, not the Government per se. The Outer Party is simply a means to an end. Right?
Derek on September 07, 2018:
Actually,1984 is NOT pessimistic-everyone ignores the Appendix,which is clearly written-in Oldspeak-after the novel's events.It begins-''Newspeak WAS (my italics)the official language of Oceania'',and later-about a slogan-''it was believed with a fervour it is impossible for us to understand today''-implying the Party has been overthrown.Also,don't forget the idea that maybe Julia really was an agent of the Thought Police,with her access to quality tobacco,chocolate,etc.
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on September 04, 2018:
Naum, Thank you for interest and your comment. I agree with you that the war is real from the standpoint of the people of Oceania. I hope I made that clear in the article. The point I was making as since from the standpoint of the government the war is made up and the people already believe in it, what does it matter who the enemy is? It causes the government added to work to suddenly change the enemy - they have to then ensure all of the people are on the same page, make announcements, change all sorts of documents and all the textbooks every time they do this.
So it would seem in the governments best interests since the war is always somewhere far away with the people only having a vague idea where so they'll never to near and find out the whole thing is a lie, to keep the enemy the same. It would serve the same purpose of unifying the people and make them willing to sacrifice resources, freedom, privacy etc. on behalf of the war effort.
My opinion is that the reason they change what is already a fictional enemy - meaning that while Eurasia and Eastasia, exist Oceania isn't at war with either - is for the purpose of doublethink, control and power. The government wants to get the people engaging in doublethink as much as possible so it is automatic. This is the main source of power for Ingsoc.
It also means the government can tell them blue is red and up is down then immediately say no, red is green and down is sideways and the people will have no problem switching from the first set of illogical statements to the second, fully believing each in turn. This makes them easy to control as they stop thinking for themselves, and let Ingsoc do all the thinking and decision making for them.
This allows the government to remain in complete control, to have all the power and different from most real life situations, they don't have to worry that the people will overthrow them - it takes a thinking population to first see things differently from the way they are told to believe and do what it takes to carry out a revolt.
Thanks again for reading the article and taking the time to comment. I hope you return to take a look at some of my other articles.
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on August 30, 2018:
Pekka - You are right to point out that obviously NATO has never engaged in preemptive war. This was added by an editor and I have removed it as appropriate. Thanks for the heads up.
Naum Shuv on August 29, 2018:
Thank you for this extremely interesting article.
However, I cannot agree with one of your statements. Just one.
"There is no need to change a fictional enemy, as the entire war is made up anyway."
In my opinion, the war in the novel is absolutely real. I mean, it is artifical, of course, but it is not fictional. Unfortunately, war is real in our life too, and loss of dozens or even hundreds human lives is of no importance for politicians.
Pekka (Finland) on August 23, 2018:
Where did you get the idea of NATO engaging into a preemptive war?
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on August 21, 2018:
The more I look into it, the more similarities I see between what Orwell predicted and warned us about and the society we live in today. It really is an amazing parallel in a lot of ways. Thanks for reading and for commenting, Linda.
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on August 05, 2018:
Dora - I'm glad you found the article interesting and relevant. Given everything that is going on in the world today and our current President in the U.S. I think so many of the things Orwell wrote about have already come to pass in our society. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on August 05, 2018:
Hi Doris - You are so right about what you said. We may not call it doublethink but that's not to say we don't do it a whole lot. We read 1984 and can't imagine living in such a world but fail to see that many of the things he warned us about have come true in spades. Just the fact we are accepting the idea of fake news and alternative facts, perhaps giving lip service to being outraged but at the same time we are letting leaders stay in power who are actually admitting to doing this as well as responsible for coining the terms in the first place. I'm sure what you saw in Russia was even worse as these things are certainly not limited to our country and have been going on elsewhere a lot longer. But seeing it actually develop under our noises with our awareness and ultimate acceptance or at least refusal to do anything is frightening and frustrating. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I am just finishing another article on other similarities between our world and 1984 - I hope you'll check back for it and take a look once it's published. I'll look forward to your response.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 09, 2018:
I agree with your analysis on 1984. Good job! I read this book back in the dark ages when I was a college student and found it so frightening that I thought it too ridiculous to even consider the possibility that it could come true. Today, I’m not so sure, and that is what really concerns me. Political correctness trying to rewrite history, continuing to try to keep a whole area of our population on a guilt trip (the South) while totally ignoring the warts on the rest of the country, focusing on the wealthy while calling the poor “parasites” are just a few of today’s attempts at Doublethink. Something to think about.
I like Tom's’ comment mainly because I spent two weeks in the Soviet Union in the late 80s. Although I enjoyed traveling through a couple of major Russian cities, I could not wait to get back home to my own country, the land of the free and the home of the brave. HA!
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on July 08, 2018:
I'm glad you found the article on the mark, Tom. Yes I'm sure the idea of limited freedom here and in Eastern Europe is quite different. We forget what we have and more importantly I think we sometimes forget to protect what we have. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.
Tom S on July 06, 2018:
Excellent, to the point, and very well explained so even I can understand it. Begs an association to current events in America. The Democratic Party comes to mind.
This is even more applicable to me since I grew up in socialism/communism in Eastern Europe. Until you know what living under limited freedom means you do not know freedom.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 07, 2018:
I like your modern day application in your conclusion. Thanks for the review. I read this book years ago. You encourage me to reread.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 04, 2018:
Excellent analysis of Orwell's 1984. I read the book during my sophomore year of college in the 1960s, and it has stuck with me all these years enough to see a parallel with today's propaganda being spoon fed to us through both professional and social media. It doesn't matter whether we are losing elections allegedly due to fake news sourced from Russian hacking or whether Southerners are being fed a constant barrage that they are bad people because of something their ancestors did over 150 years ago. The result is still the same, and it stems from the same premise of mind control as was evident in the dystopian novel. Just as in 1984, people are accepting this form of mind-control as truth and allowing it to stir up hate for each other. In today's society, as was then, there seems to be a preponderance of the absence of love.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 03, 2018:
This is a very interesting and thought-provoking analysis, Natalie. 1984 is an impressive book that contains some fascinating ideas. I enjoy reading people's thoughts about the story and its implications for today.