It was a dream, drifting like Alice, lazy and stupid, but I wasn’t dreaming. George, reeking of cigarettes, sat on the bench beside me. Hands shaking, he offered a cigarette. Declining, he shook his head. “I told you. I told all of you, but you didn’t listen, couldn’t listen. Too busy petting your precious little tellies? Nothing has changed,” he said. “Yesterday is today. More cunning, more clever.” Leaning closer he slowly blew smoke. “Past is prolog,” he whispered. George then disappeared, but his voice continued…
Lies are presented as truth. Truth is diagnosed as lies. Liars are paid and celebrated. Those who tell the truth are hunted by THOUGHT POLICE, persecuted, censored, or vaporized (deplatformed). The prevailing mental condition is; controlled mass insanity.
George’s voice continued…
Winston opened the heavy black volume, amateurishly bound, with no name or title on the cover. The print also looked slightly irregular. The pages were worn at the edges, and fell apart, easily, as though the book had passed through many hands. The inscription on the title-page ran:
THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM
By Emmanuel Goldstein. Chapter I, Ignorance is Strength
Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other. The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable…
Of the three groups, only the Low (85%) are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.
The familiar pendulum swing was to happen once more, and then stop. As usual, the High were to be turned out by the Middle, who would then become the High; but this time, by conscious strategy, the High would be able to maintain their position permanently… The cyclical movement of history was now intelligible, or appeared to be so; and if it was intelligible, then it was alterable. But the principal, underlying cause was that, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, human equality had become technically possible.
Poverty as we know it would disappear, poverty being the primary outcome of hierarchical social control, if a fraction of global military budgets and unaccounted “missing” funds, $21 Trillion Dollars plus, was invested in human and environmental development, rather that the destruction of human beings and the environment. To date, the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, the most corrupt government in Europe, while the CDC estimates 1 in 3 American girls seriously consider suicide and 50% of American families don’t have $1,000 in discretionary income.
There was no longer any real need for class distinctions or for large differences of wealth. In earlier ages, class distinctions had been not only inevitable but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered. Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.
In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it. The idea of an earthly paradise in which men should live together in a state of brotherhood, without laws and without brute labor, had haunted the human imagination for thousands of years. And this vision had had a certain hold even on the groups who actually proﬁted by each historical change. The heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be inﬂuenced by them to some extent.
But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century, all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable. Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set in round about 1930, practices which had been long abandoned, in some cases for hundreds of years —imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages, and the deportation of whole populations —not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.
It was only after a decade of national wars, civil wars, revolutions, and counter-revolutions in all parts of the world that Ingsoc and its rivals emerged as fully worked-out political theories.
Ingsoc is an ideology that serves as the driving force behind the totalitarian regime of 1984‘s fictional state of Oceania. It is also the country’s sole political Corporate-Government. Ingsoc keeps its grip on Oceania by regulating the flow of information, employing an army of spies to keep an eye on its members, and invading all aspects of private life.
By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefﬁcient. The ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking. Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason for this was that in the past no Corporate-Government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance. The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.
Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the authorities, and in the sound of ofﬁcial propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed. The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the ﬁrst time.
Note: the “Telescreen,” a device that could receive and transmit images, data and sound, mobile devices today, were predicted by Orwell in 1949. The widespread use of “Telescreens” played a central role in his 1984 dystopia.
After the revolutionary period of the ﬁfties and sixties, society regrouped itself, as always, into High, Middle, and Low. But the new High group, unlike all its forerunners, did not act upon instinct but knew what was needed to safe-guard its position. It had long been realized that the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism.
Collectivism, on the individual and societal level, to view oneself not as an independent being, rather identity is defined as a member of a group. In collectivist cultures, people feel as if they belong to larger in-groups or collectives which care for them in exchange for loyalty. (“Protect and Respect” the group replaces individual civil rights and personal sovereignty.)
In the years following the Revolution it was able to step into this commanding position almost unopposed, because the whole process was represented as an act of mandated collectivization. It had always been assumed that if the capitalist class were expropriated,
Socialism Corporatism must follow: and unquestionably the capitalists had been corporatized.
From the point of view of our present rulers, therefore, the only genuine dangers are the splitting-off of a new group of able, under-employed, power-hungry people, and the growth of liberalism and skepticism in their own ranks. The problem, that is to say, is educational. It is a problem of continuously molding the consciousness both of the directing group and of the larger executive group that lies immediately below it. The consciousness of the masses needs only to be inﬂuenced in negative ways.
Given this background, one could infer, if one did not know it already, the general structure of our “One World” society today. At the apex of the pyramid comes Corporate-Government, infallible and all-powerful. Every success, every achievement, every victory, every scientiﬁc discovery, all knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly from its leadership and inspiration... Below Big Brother comes the Inner Corporate-Government. Its numbers limited to something less than 2 per cent of the population. Below the Inner Corporate-Government comes the Outer Corporate-Government, which, if the Inner Corporate-Government is described as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the hands. Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as ‘the proles’, numbering perhaps 85 per cent of the population. In the terms of our earlier classiﬁcation, the proles are the Low.
In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary… Its rulers are not held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine… Between the two branches of the Corporate-Government there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Corporate-Government and that ambitious members of the Outer Corporate-Government are made harmless by allowing them to rise. Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Corporate-Government. The most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated…
All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Corporate-Government and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived. Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move towards rebellion, is at present not possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is. They could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly; but, since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the level of popular education is actually declining. What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. On the other hand, in a Corporate-Government member, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.
A Corporate-Government member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his relaxations, his behavior towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanor, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction what-ever.
AI emotion recognition is a very active current field of computer vision research that involves facial emotion detection and the automatic assessment of sentiment from visual data, 2023. Read more at: https://viso.ai/deep-learning/visual-emotion-ai-recognition/
Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean certain deaths are not formally forbidden, and the endless purges, arrests, tortures, imprisonments, and vaporizations are not inﬂicted as punishment for crimes which have actually been committed, but are merely the wiping-out of persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in the future. A Corporate-Government member is required to have not only the right opinions, but the right instincts… Elaborate mental training, undergone in childhood and grouping itself round the Newspeak words CRIMESTOP, BLACK-WHITE, and DOUBLETHINK, makes him unwilling and unable to think too deeply on any subject whatever.
See: John Taylor Gatto; “Dumbing g Us Down, the Hidden Agenda of Compulsory Schooling.”
A Corporate-Government member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, (nonconforming political parties), triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Corporate-Government pounded by media. His discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate (the constant distracting drum of corporate sponsored not-news), and the speculations which might possibly induce a skeptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline to conform.
The ﬁrst and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, CRIMESTOP. CRIMESTOP means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. CRIMESTOP, in short, means protective stupidity.
See: AI predicative profiling https://theconversation.com/ai-profiling-the-social-and-moral-hazards-of-predictive-policing-92960
But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. Today’s society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that Corporate-Government is infallible. But since in reality Corporate-Government is not omnipotent and not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment ﬂexibility in the treatment of facts.
The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Corporate-Government member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Corporate-Government discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK (Truth is False. False is Truth.)
The alteration of the past (deep censorship) is necessary for two reasons, one of which is subsidiary and, so to speak, precautionary. The subsidiary reason is that the Corporate-Government member, like the proletarian, tolerates present-day conditions partly because he has no standards of comparison. He must be cut off from the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign countries, because it is necessary for him to believe that he is better off than his ancestors and that the average level of material comfort is constantly rising. But by far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safe-guard the infallibility of the Corporate-Government… This day-to-day falsiﬁcation of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.
The mutability of the past is the central tenet of Ingsoc. Past events, it is argued, have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since the Corporate-Government is in full control of all records and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that the past is whatever the Corporate-Government chooses to make it. It also follows that though the past is alterable, it never has been altered in any speciﬁc instance. For when it has been recreated in whatever shape is needed at the moment, then this new version IS the past, and no different past can ever have existed.
To make sure that all written records agree with the orthodoxy of the moment is merely a mechanical act. But it is also necessary to REMEMBER that events happened in the desired manner. And if it is necessary to rearrange one’s memories or to tamper with written records, then it is necessary to FORGET that one has done so. (Masks and social distancing know and openly declared to be ineffective are suddenly claimed to be absolutely effective.) The trick of doing this can be learned like any other mental technique. It is learned by the majority of Corporate-Government members, and certainly by all who are intelligent as well as orthodox. In Oldspeak it is called, quite frankly, ‘Reality Control’. In Newspeak it is called DOUBLETHINK, though DOUBLETHINK comprises much else as well.
DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them (fraudulent asymptomatic test results are ‘cases’.) The Corporate-Government intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisﬁes himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufﬁcient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Corporate-Government is to use conscious deception while retaining the ﬁrmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLE-THINK. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indeﬁnitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of DOUBLETHINK that the Corporate-Government has been able — and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years — to arrest the course of history.
All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossiﬁed or because they grew soft. Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown; or they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have used force, and once again were overthrown. They fell, that is to say, either through consciousness or through unconsciousness. It is the achievement of the Corporate-Government to have produced a system of thought in which both conditions can exist simultaneously. And upon no other intellectual basis could the dominion of the Corporate-Government be made permanent. If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.
It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.
This peculiar linking-together of opposites — knowledge with ignorance, cynicism with fanaticism — is one of the chief distinguishing marks of today’s society. The ofﬁcial ideology abounds with contradictions even when there is no practical reason for them. Thus, the Corporate-Government rejects and viliﬁes every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason.
It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indeﬁnitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is to be forever averted — if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently — then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.
We, the unseen leaders, are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
How does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but MORE merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred.
In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy—everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science.
When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— for ever. ‘And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again.
Everything that you have undergone these past few years — all that will continue, and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the lies masquerading as truth, the censorship and arrests, the tortures, the executions, the disappearances will never cease. It will be a world of terror as much as a world of triumph. The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.
Heresies will live for ever. Every day, at every moment, they will be defeated, discredited, ridiculed, spat upon and yet they will always survive. This drama will be played out over and over again generation after generation, always in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible— and in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord. That is the world that we are preparing. A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it. You will become part of it.
George Orwell 2019+
“The last refuge of the secret self (authentic human nature), must be infiltrated, subjected and recycled into conformity with the technological society… The dehumanization of man, initiated from without, would be finally accomplished in the process from within, by a voluntary act of compliance and conversion.”
“The Dehumanization of Man,” 1987