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English Socialist Party
Universe Nineteen Eighty-Four
Type Political party
Leader Big Brother
Key people O'Brien
Emmanuel Goldstein (later defected)
Slogan "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."
"Big Brother is Watching You."
"Proles and Animals are free"
Colours Black, White, Red
Political ideology English socialism (official)
Oligarchical collectivism (de facto),
Big Brotherism (de facto)
Political position Syncretic

Ingsoc (Newspeak for English Socialism or the English Socialist Party) is the political ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Fictional origins

It is clear that "English socialism" (Ingsoc) emerged within the Socialist Party. However, the origins of Ingsoc have been obscured, as the Party continually rewrites history.

Oceania appears to have emerged as a formal political union of the United States and the countries of the British Commonwealth, which later annexed the remainder of the Americas and all of Southern Africa. Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein led the Party to power in Oceania after a revolution of some kind. After the Party achieved control of Oceania, Ingsoc became the official governing ideology and other political beliefs were increasingly marginalized. Goldstein and Big Brother later became enemies, and differed in their interpretation of Ingsoc.

As political philosophy

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, describes the Party’s ideology as an Oligarchical Collectivism, which “rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of Socialism”. It is noteworthy that, in the terms of the book, this ideology would be a form of doublethink.

Big Brother personifies the Inner Party, as the ubiquitous face constantly depicted in posters and the telescreen. Thus, Big Brother is constantly watching. Ingsoc demands the complete submission – mental, moral and physical – of the people, and will torture to achieve it (see Room 101). Ingsoc is a masterfully complex system of psychological control that compels confession to imagined crimes and the forgetting of rebellious thought in order to love Big Brother and the Party over oneself. The purpose of Ingsoc is political control, power per se; glibly, O'Brien explains to Smith:

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.

As metaphysical pseudophilosophy

In the third part of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ingsoc presents a solipsist and nihilistic view that the universe and all knowledge, meaning and value exists only in the collective mind of the Party; reality is what the Party says, the justification for its historical revisionism (compare Consensus reality).[citation needed] With doublethink, the people believe what they otherwise know is false; in believing the revised (new) past, the new past is what was, hence "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." The Ministry of Love (MiniLuv), via brainwashing and torture, and the Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue), with propaganda, ensure that perpetual infallibility of the Party is instilled in the mind of each Oceanian. The person exists only as part of the collective, hence, for the collective, nothing exists beyond the goodness of the Party and the evil of other nations and the Party's power.

Ingsoc's social class system

Population breakdown

In the year 1984, Ingsoc divides Oceanian society into three social classes, the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles:

The Inner Party

The Inner Party members make policy, affect decisions, and govern; they are known as "The Party", and constitute the upper class of Oceanian society. Among their upper-class privileges is the ability to shut down their telescreens if they feel like it. (However, this is only temporarily and no Inner Party member has been known to disable the telescreen for more than 30 minutes.) They live in spacious, comfortable homes, have good food and drink, personal servants, and speedy transportation such as personal helicopters and automobiles (while Outer Party and Proles are banned from owning any vehicles), and no Outer Party member or Prole may enter an Inner Party neighbourhood without a good pretext.

Despite their insulation and overt privileges, Inner Party members are not exempt from the brutal restriction of thought and behaviour imposed on all Party members, even while lies and propaganda apparently originate from their own ranks. As in the example of the characters Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford, non-conformant members of the Inner Party can be condemned, tortured, and erased from memory, as surely as any other individual. Inner Party members make up less than 2% of the population of Oceania.

The Outer Party

The Outer Party members work the state’s administrative jobs, consisting of the educated workers who are responsible for the direct implementation of the Party's policies, while having absolutely no voice in their formulation. They are an artificial middle class, essential to the success of the Party, but who are tolerated only in severely hostile conditions. Outer Party members are allowed “no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin", and they are the citizens most spied upon, via telescreens and surveillance. This is because, according to history, the middle class is the most dangerous; they are the ones whose combination of intellectual ability with limited power means they are most likely to incite revolution against the ruling class. They are therefore expected to sustain a continuous, patriotic frenzy for the Party, blindly accepting every order from remote superiors, all while simultaneously being condemned to live in rundown neighbourhoods, use crowded subways as transportation (only Inner Party members are allowed to have vehicles), and to persist in an ongoing state of near starvation with meager rations of poor food and drink. Outer Party members are also expected to abstain completely from sex other than for strictly procreative purposes within marriage, since to allow sex in any less restrictive forms would permit self-actualization, individual intimacy, and expenditure of personal energy to non-official purposes, all of which are completely antithetical to the Party's agenda.

The Proles

The Proles are the lower class of workers, performing the bulk of manual labour required in Oceania. They live in the poorest conditions, but they can be considered as more fortunate than the Outer Party members; they are not under any surveillance of the party and the Party keeps them happy and sedates them with alcohol, gambling, sport, sexual promiscuity, and prolefeed (fabricated books, pornography). They are kept uneducated and rendered incapable of gaining any sophisticated view of their own lives or of society's, and are therefore considered harmless, lacking any greater will or consciousness than would be typically ascribed to animals. The Proles live in poor but relatively good conditions, supplemented by the fact that they are not required to install telescreens in their homes (since they cannot even afford one). A few undercover agents of the Thought Police do work as Proles to mark down and eliminate any Prole individuals deemed capable of becoming dangerous. Proletariat are 85 percent of Oceania’s populace.

Although the social classes of Oceania interact little, the protagonist, Winston Smith, attends an evening at the cinema, where proles and members of the Outer and Inner Party view the same film programme; he visits a proletarian pub without attracting notice (or so he thinks); and visits the flat of Inner Party man O'Brien, on pretext of borrowing the newest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Ingsoc’s propaganda proclaims its egalitarianism, yet the Proles and (some) members of the Outer Party are hideously exploited and live in poverty, while the ruling elite, the Inner Party, work little and live well and comfortably; yet food and consumer goods are more scarce and expensive than under capitalism. It is suggested that this is not a result of a deficit of actual produce, but rather, a surplus: This surplus is more than taken up by ever-present warfare between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. If the Party chose, all its people could live in luxury, but they instead choose to lower the quality of living: It is important that the lower classes remain stupefied by poverty and the struggle for mere survival; if they were to become too comfortable, they might learn to think for themselves and rebel against the Party.

Other political ideologies in Nineteen Eighty-four

Eurasia and Eastasia are the other two ideologically-formed and -ruled superstates that resemble Oceania. Neo-Bolshevism is the ideology of Eurasia, Soviet-conquered Europe. Death Worship (Obliteration of the Self) is the Chinese name for the ideology of Eastasia. The ruling oligarchies of the three superstates are aware that their ideologies are philosophically indistinguishable, a fact kept from, and denied by, their populaces via doublethink. Said denial, practiced in each state, and the mutual vilification of the enemy state, permits perpetual war among them. Without said war, the lower classes would have no focus for the hatred of, and triumph over, the enemy, with which their Inner parties dominate them and find excuses for their atrocities.

How Ingsoc gained control of the British Empire and the Americas in a historically short period is not established. In his book, Goldstein says that Oceania was created "with the absorption of... ...the British Empire by the United States". As Goldstein's book itself has been written by the Party, it may be subject to the same historical revisionism as the Party's other propaganda, and so an unreliable source of information. When Winston is being tortured by O'Brien in the Ministry of Love, he asks if "the book" is true. O'Brien replies: "As description, yes. The programme it sets forth . . . is nonsense".

See also

External links