Feed on


Ingsoc (“English Socialism”) originated after the socialist party took over, but, because The Party continually rewrites history, it is impossible to establish the precise origin of English Socialism. Oceania originated from the union of the Americas with the British Empire. Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein led the Party’s socialist revolution, yet Goldstein and Big Brother became enemies. However, it is debatable whether Big Brother and Goldstein actually exist, and are not just fabrications by the party to inspire love and hatred, respectively. Besides its continual historical revisionism, The Party also is continually rewriting the English language into Newspeak, a language whose concision limits the true denotation(s) of words and the ideas they represent; hence the esoteric Newspeak acronym “Ingsoc” replaced the Oldspeak “English Socialism”.

The Ingsoc political ideology is widely regarded as similar to Stalinism.

back to  First Paper/ Essay

URL:// http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingsoc



Subject : 14206 English literature and Political discourse –  group A

Student´s name: RUEDA SORIANO, ROCÍO

Title of the paper: “Manipulation of language as a weapon of mind control and abuse of power in 1984″

Author or topic: GEORGE ORWELL


“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell

Abstract: I decided to choose 1984 as the object of my analysis because I found interesting the way George Orwell develops his political beliefs against totalitarian regimes in this writing and the way he presents in the novel the use of language with political purposes.  How Orwell shows that by using language in an appropriate way, it can be a powerful weapon to control people’s minds and consequently gain absolute power.  This is why I decided to give my paper this title.

By clicking on  “Manipulation of language as a weapon of mind control and abuse of power in 1984″ you can find the complete essay where the main ideas are developed and where I have included relevant information about the author. You can find information such as his biography, his works, quotations taken from Ninenteen- eighty-four , background information, 1984: the film, summaries, descriptions of characters from the book, among other things. This is just one part out of three which compound the whole analysis on George Orwelll, so for more information you can also click on Alba Fernández Ibañez (Alba’s blog) who explains how this language’s manipulation is carried out in Animal Farm, but if  you are interested on more general aspects and the analysed novels , then click on Rubén Paz Simeón’s blog where he deals with the author’s life in depth and explores themes such as political control of communication,  communication of public texts and control of their meaning and censorship, etc.

Bibliography URL’s (sources)

Auto-evaluation: 7

Academic year 2010/2011
© a.r.e.a./Dr.Vicente Forés López

alba y ruben

The basic idea behind Newspeak was to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, good thoughts and thoughtcrimes) which reinforce the total dominance of the State. A staccato rhythm of short syllables was also a goal, further reducing the need for deep thinking about language.

In addition, words with opposite meanings were removed as redundant, so “bad” became “ungood.” Words with similar meanings were also removed, so “best” became “doubleplusgood.” In this manner, as many words as possible were removed from the language. The ultimate aim of Newspeak was to reduce even the dichotomies to a single word that was a “yes” of some sort: an obedient word with which everyone answered affirmatively to what was asked of them.

Orwell reveals a certain ethnocentrism in his ideas, in that the characteristics of Newspeak that he derides as controlling changes in English are common in perfectly functional agglutinative languages. His distaste for the replacement of “bad” with “ungood” seems to be largely due to the fact that the practice is foreign to his native language of English. It serves speakers of agglutinative languages quite well for everyday communication, poetry, etc. It is clear that Orwell was an English speaker addressing other English speakers.

The underlying theory of Newspeak is that if something can’t be said, then it can’t be thought. One question raised by this is whether we are defined by our language, or whether we actively define it. For instance, can we communicate the need for freedom, or organize an uprising, if we don’t have the words for either? This is related to the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s proposition, “The limits of my language mean the limits to my world.”

Examples of Newspeak, from the novel, include: “crimethink”; “doubleplusungood”; and “Ingsoc.” They mean, respectively: “thought-crime”; “extremely bad”; and “English Socialism,” the political philosophy of the Party. The word “Newspeak” itself also comes from the language.

Generically, newspeak has come to mean any attempt to restrict disapproved language by a government or other powerful entity.

BACK TO First Paper/ Essay


Newspeak words

* Crimestop
* Doublethink
* Doubleplusgood
* Doubleplusungood
* Duckspeak
* Blackwhite
* Ingsoc
* Oldspeak
* Thoughtcrime (The actual Newspeak word is Crimethink).
* Miniluv, Minipax: “Ministry of Love” (secret police) and “Ministry of Peace” (Ministry of War). Compare to abbreviations in real life such as “Nazi” and “Gestapo.”
* Bellyfeel
* Oldthink
* Goodthink
* Goodsex (chastity) In Oceania the only purpose of sex is the creation of new party members.
* Sexcrime (sex that does not lead to the creation of new party members)
* Free (only in statements like “This dog is free from lice.”) The concepts of “political freedom” and “intellectual freedom” do not exist in Newspeak.
* Equal (a statement such as “All men are equal.” would only mean “All men are of equal size.”) “Political Equality” doesn’t even exist as a concept in Newspeak.
* Unperson A person who had been vaporized, and all records of him/her had been wiped out. All other party members must forget that the unperson ever existed, and mentioning his/her name is thoughtcrime. (The concept that the person may have existed at one time, and has disappeared, cannot be expressed in Newspeak.) Compare to the Stalinist use of erasing people from photographs after their death.
* Facecrime (an indication that a person is guilty of thoughtcrime based on their facial expression)
* Vaporize (the same as liquidate) When people disappear, they are vaporized.

BACK TO First Paper/ Essay

URL:// http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/col-newspeak.htm


Major characters

  • Big Brother : the dark-eyed, mustachioed embodiment of the Party governing Oceania (viz. Joseph Stalin), whom few people have seen, if anyone. There is doubt as to whether he exists.
  • Emmanuel Goldstein — a former Party leader, bespectacled and with a goatee beard like the Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky (an original leader of the Bolshevik Revolution whose real last name was Bronstein and who, after losing to Stalin in the struggle for power, was deported from the USSR and after some years writing against the Soviet regime was eventually murdered). Goldstein’s persona is as an enemy of the state – the national nemesis used to ideologically unite Oceanians with the Party, purported author of “the book” (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism), and leader of the Brotherhood. The Book was actually created and collaborated on by O’Brien. Goldstein allows the Party to encourage Two Minutes Hate and other fear mongering.
  • Winston Smith: Orwell’s primary goal in 1984 is to demonstrate the terrifying possibilities of totalitarianism. The reader experiences the nightmarish world that Orwell envisions through the eyes of the protagonist, Winston. His personal tendency to resist the stifling of his individuality, and his intellectual ability to reason about his resistance, enables the reader to observe and understand the harsh oppression that the Party, Big Brother, and the Thought Police institute. Whereas Julia is untroubled and somewhat selfish, interested in rebelling only for the pleasures to be gained, Winston is extremely pensive and curious, desperate to understand how and why the Party exercises such absolute power in Oceania. Winston’s long reflections give Orwell a chance to explore the novel’s important themes, including language as mind control, psychological and physical intimidation and manipulation, and the importance of knowledge of the past.   Apart from his thoughtful nature, Winston’s main attributes are his rebelliousness and his fatalism. Winston hates the Party passionately and wants to test the limits of its power; he commits innumerable crimes throughout the novel, ranging from writing “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his diary, to having an illegal love affair with Julia, to getting himself secretly indoctrinated into the anti-Party Brotherhood. The effort Winston puts into his attempt to achieve freedom and independence ultimately underscores the Party’s devastating power. By the end of the novel, Winston’s rebellion is revealed as playing into O’Brien’s campaign of physical and psychological torture, transforming Winston into a loyal subject of Big Brother. One reason for Winston’s rebellion, and eventual downfall, is his sense of fatalism—his intense (though entirely justified) paranoia about the Party and his overriding belief that the Party will eventually catch and punish him. As soon as he writes “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his diary, Winston is positive that the Thought Police will quickly capture him for committing a thoughtcrime. Thinking that he is helpless to evade his doom, Winston allows himself to take unnecessary risks, such as trusting O’Brien and renting the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop. Deep down, he knows that these risks will increase his chances of being caught by the Party; he even admits this to O’Brien while in prison. But because he believes that he will be caught no matter what he does, he convinces himself that he must continue to rebel. Winston lives in a world in which legitimate optimism is an impossibility; lacking any real hope, he gives himself false hope, fully aware that he is doing so

  • Julia:  is Winston’s lover and the only other person who Winston can be sure hates the Party and wishes to rebel against it as he does. Whereas Winston is restless, fatalistic, and concerned about large-scale social issues, Julia is sensual, pragmatic, and generally content to live in the moment and make the best of her life. Winston longs to join the Brotherhood and read Emmanuel Goldstein’s abstract manifesto; Julia is more concerned with enjoying sex and making practical plans to avoid getting caught by the Party. Winston essentially sees their affair as temporary; his fatalistic attitude makes him unable to imagine his relationship with Julia lasting very long. Julia, on the other hand, is well adapted to her chosen forms of small-scale rebellion. She claims to have had affairs with various Party members, and has no intention of terminating her pleasure seeking, or of being caught (her involvement with Winston is what leads to her capture). Julia is a striking contrast to Winston: apart from their mutual sexual desire and hatred of the Party, most of their traits are dissimilar, if not contradictory.
  • O’Brien : one of the most fascinating aspects of 1984 is the manner in which Orwell shrouds an explicit portrayal of a totalitarian world in an enigmatic aura. While Orwell gives the reader a close look into the personal life of Winston Smith, the reader’s only glimpses of Party life are those that Winston himself catches. As a result, many of the Party’s inner workings remain unexplained, as do its origins, and the identities and motivations of its leaders. This sense of mystery is centralized in the character of O’Brien, a powerful member of the Inner Party who tricks Winston into believing that he is a member of the revolutionary group called the Brotherhood. O’Brien inducts Winston into the Brotherhood. Later, though, he appears at Winston’s jail cell to abuse and brainwash him in the name of the Party. During the process of this punishment, and perhaps as an act of psychological torture, O’Brien admits that he pretended to be connected to the Brotherhood merely to trap Winston in an act of open disloyalty to the Party.This revelation raises more questions about O’Brien than it answers. Rather than developing as a character throughout the novel, O’Brien actually seems to un-develop: by the end of the book, the reader knows far less about him than they previously had thought. When Winston asks O’Brien if he too has been captured by the Party, O’Brien replies, “They got me long ago.” This reply could signify that O’Brien himself was once rebellious, only to be tortured into passive acceptance of the Party. One can also argue that O’Brien pretends to sympathize with Winston merely to gain his trust. Similarly, one cannot be sure whether the Brotherhood actually exists, or if it is simply a Party invention used to trap the disloyal and give the rest of the populace a common enemy. The novel does not answer these questions, but rather leaves O’Brien as a shadowy, symbolic enigma on the fringes of the even more obscure Inner Party.

Note that it is never made clear in the novel if either Big Brother or Emmanuel Goldstein actually exist.

Secondary characters

  • Aaronson, Jones and Rutherford — Former Inner Party members. Winston vaguely remembers that they had been among the original leaders of the Revolution, long before “Big Brother” had been heard of. They were tortured into confessing to absurd crimes and then executed in the purges of the 1960s (analogous to the Soviet Purges of the 1930s, in which leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution such as Kamenev and Zinoviev were similarly treated). In the course of his work, Winston finds newspaper evidence proving their innocence and hastily destroys it (in the 1984 film version he finds an old bottle of gin bearing their portraits on the label, from when they had been leading members of the regime).
  • Ampleforth — Winston’s Records Department colleague imprisoned for leaving the word “God” in a Kipling poem; Winston meets him again in the Miniluv. Ampleforth is a dreamer and an intellectual who takes pleasure from his work and seems to treat poetry and language with respect. This is his undoing as it interferes with his work and causes him to displease the Party.
  • Charrington — An officer of the Thought Police posing as an antiques-shop keeper.
  • Katharine — The indifferent wife whom Winston “can’t get rid of”. Despite disliking sexual intercourse with him, she continued because it was their “duty to the Party”. She is a “goodthinkful” ideologue. At some point before the novel begins, Katharine and Winston were separated as they were not able to produce children.
  • Martin — O’Brien’s Mongolian servant.
  • Parsons — Winston’s naïve neighbour and an ideal member of the Outer Party: an un-educated, suggestible man. He is utterly loyal to the Party and believes fully in its image of perfection. He is in a way like the proles, unable to see the bigger aspects of the world. He is active and participates in hikes and leads community group and fundraisers. Despite being a fool, Parsons does possess some good traits. He is a very friendly man and seems to believe in a basic form of decency despite his political views. He punishes his son for firing a catapult at Winston and shows fondness for his children despite his belief that the end of family life is a good idea. He is captured when his children claim that he repeatedly and unknowingly spoke against the Party in his sleep and he is last seen in the Ministry of Love, proud of having been betrayed by his orthodox children.
  • Syme — Winston’s intelligent colleague, a lexicographer developing Newspeak, whom the Party “vaporized” because he remained a lucidly-thinking intellectual. Though Syme holds orthodox opinions in line with Party doctrine, Winston notes “He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.”

BACK TO First Paper/ Essay

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in The Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist.It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile it gained ground steadily, all Party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech. The version in use in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak Dictionary, was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed later. It is with the final, perfected version, as embodied in the Eleventh Edition of the Dictionary, that

we are concerned here. The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for

the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ’This dog is free from lice’ or ’This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ’ politically free’ or ’intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum. Newspeak was founded on the English language as we now know it, though many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly-created words,

It would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day. Newspeak words were divided into three distinct classes, known as the A vocabulary, the B vocabulary (also called compound words), and the C vocabulary. It will be simpler to discuss each class separately, but the grammatical peculiarities of the language can be dealt with in the section devoted to the A vocabulary, since the same rules held good for all three categories. The A vocabulary.

The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the business of everyday life — for such things as eating, drinking, working, putting on one’s clothes, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles, gardening, cooking, and the like. It was composed almost entirely of words that we already possess words like hit, run, dog, tree, sugar, house, field — but in comparison with the present-day English vocabulary their number was extremely small, while their meanings were far more rigidly defined. All ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged out of them. So far as it could be achieved, a Newspeak word of this class was simply a staccato sound expressing one clearly understood concept. It would have been quite impossible to use the A vocabulary for literary purposes or for political or philosophical discussion. It was intended only to express simple, purposive thoughts, usually involving concrete objects or physical actions. The grammar of Newspeak had two outstanding peculiarities. The first of these was an almost complete interchange ability between different parts of speech. Any word in the language (in principle this applied even to very abstract words such as if or when) could be used either as verb, noun, adjective, or adverb. Between the verb and the noun form, when they were of the same root, there was never any variation, this rule of itself involving the destruction of many archaic forms. The word thought, for example, did not exist in Newspeak. Its place was taken by think, which did duty for both noun and verb. No etymological principle was followed here: in some cases it was the original noun that was chosen for retention, in other cases the verb. Even where a noun and verb of kindred meaning were not etymologically connected, one or other of them was frequently suppressed. There was, for example, no such word as cut, its meaning being sufficiently covered by the noun-verb knife. Adjectives were formed by adding the suffix-ful to the noun-verb, and adverbs by adding -wise. Thus for example, speedful meant ’rapid’ and speedwise meant ’quickly’. Certain of our present-day adjectives, such as good, strong, big, black, soft, were retained, but their total number was very small. There was little need for them, since almost any adjectival meaning could be arrived at by adding-ful to a noun-verb. None of the now-existing adverbs was retained, except for a very few already ending in-wise: the -wise termination was invariable. The word well, for example, was replaced by goodwise.

In addition, any word — this again applied in principle to every word in the language — could be negatived by adding the affix un- or could be strengthened by the affix plus-, or, for still greater emphasis, doubleplus-. Thus, for example, uncold meant ’warm’, while pluscold and doublepluscold meant, respectively,  ‘very cold’ and ’superlatively cold’. It was also possible, as in present-day English, to modify the meaning of almost any word by prepositional affixes such as ante-, post-, up-, down-, etc. By such methods it was found possible to bring about an enormous diminution of vocabulary. Given, for instance, the word good, there was no need for such a word as bad, since the required meaning was equally well — indeed, better — expressed by ungood. All that was necessary, in any case where two words formed a natural pair of opposites, was to decide which of them to suppress. Dark, for example, could be replaced by unlight, or light by undark, according to preference. The second distinguishing mark of Newspeak grammar was its regularity. Subject to a few exceptions which are mentioned below all inflexions followed the same rules. Thus, in all verbs the preterite and the past participle were the same and ended in-ed. The preterite of steal was stealed, the preterite of think was thinked, and so on throughout the language, all such forms as swam, gave, brought, spoke, taken, etc., being abolished. All plurals were made by adding-s or-es as the case might be. The plurals of man, ox, life, were mans, oxes, lifes. Comparison of adjectives was invariably made by adding-er,-est (good, gooder, goodest), irregular forms and the more, most formation being suppressed. The only classes of words that were still allowed to inflect irregularly were the pronouns, the relatives, the demonstrative adjectives, and the auxiliary verbs. All of these followed their ancient usage, except that whom had been scrapped as unnecessary, and the shall, should tenses had been dropped, all their uses being covered by will and would. There were also certain irregularities in wordformation arising out of the need for rapid and easy speech. A word which was difficult to utter, or was liable to be incorrectly heard, was held to be ipso facto a bad word: occasionally therefore, for the sake of euphony, extra letters were inserted into a word or an archaic formation was retained. But this need made itself felt chiefly in connexion with the B vocabulary. Why so great an importance was attached to ease of pronunciation will be made clear later in this essay. The B vocabulary. The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them. Without a full understanding of the principles of Ingsoc it was difficult to use these words correctly. In some cases they couId be translated into Oldspeak, or even into words taken from the A vocabulary, but this usually demanded a long paraphrase and always involved the loss of certain overtones. The B words were a sort of verbal shorthand, often packing whole ranges of ideas into a few syllables, and at the same time more accurate and forcible than ordinary language. The B words were in all cases compound words. They consisted of two or more words, or portions of words, welded together in an easily pronounceable form. The resulting amalgam was always a noun-verb, and inflected according to the ordinary rules. To take a single example: the word goodthink, meaning, very roughly, ’orthodoxy’, or, if one chose to regard it as a verb, ’to think in an orthodox manner’. This inflected as follows: nounverb, goodthink; past tense and past participle, goodthinked; present participle, good- thinking; adjective, goodthinkful; adverb, goodthinkwise; verbal noun, goodthinker.

The B words were not constructed on any etymological plan. The words of which they were made up could be any parts of speech, and could be placed in any order and mutilated in any way which made them easy to pronounce while indicating their derivation. In the word crimethink (thoughtcrime), for instance, the think came second, whereas in thinkpol Thought Police) it came first, and in the latter word police had lost its second syllable. Because of the

great difficuIty in securing euphony, irregular formations were commoner in the B vocabulary than in the A vocabulary. For example, the adjective forms of Minitrue, Minipax, and Miniluv were, respectively, Minitruthful, Minipeaceful, and Minilovely, simply because- trueful,-paxful, and-loveful were slightly awkward to pronounce. In principle, however, all B words could inflect, and all inflected in exactly the same way. Some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to anyone who had not mastered the language as a whole. Consider, for example, such a typical sentence from a Times leading article as Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc. The shortest rendering that one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: ’Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English Socialism.’ But this is not an adequate translation. To begin with, in order to Compound words such as speakwrite, were of course to be found in the A vocabulary, but these were merely convenient abbreviations and had no special ideologcal colour. grasp the full meaning of the Newspeak sentence quoted above, one would have to have a clear idea of what is meant by Ingsoc. And in addition, only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate the full force of the word bellyfeel, which implied a blind, enthusiastic acceptance difficult to imagine today; or of the word oldthink, which was inextricably mixed up with the idea of wickedness and decadence. But the special function of certain Newspeak words, of which oldthink was one, was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them. These words, necessarily few in number, had had their meanings extended until they contained within themselves whole batteries of words which, as they were sufficiently covered by a single comprehensive term, could now be scrapped and forgotten. The greatest difficulty facing the compilers of the Newspeak Dictionary was not to invent new words, but, having invented them, to make sure what they meant: to make sure, that is to say, what ranges of words they cancelled by their existence. As we have already seen in the case of the word free, words which had once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them. Countless other words such as honour, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist. A few blanket words covered them, and, in covering them, abolished them. All words grouping themselves round

the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word crimethink, while all words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word oldthink. Greater precision would have been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped ’false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods. In somewhat the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible. His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by  he two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity).

Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialized names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex — that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was sexcrime. In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it was heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were nonexistent. No word in the B vocabulary was ideologically neutral. A great many were euphemisms. Such words, for instance, as joycamp (forced-labour camp) or Minipax Ministry of Peace, i. e. Ministry of War) meant almost the exact opposite of what they appeared to mean. Some words, on the other hand, displayed a frank and contemptuous understanding of the real nature of Oceanic society. An example was prolefeed, meaning the rubbishy entertainment and spurious news which the Party handed out to the masses. Other words, again, were ambivalent, having the connotation ’good’ when applied to the Party and

’bad’ when applied to its enemies. But in addition there were great numbers of words which at first sight appeared to be mere abbreviations and which derived their ideological colour not from their meaning, but from their structure. So far as it could be contrived, everything that had or might have political significance of any kind was fitted into the B vocabulary. The name of every organization, or body of people, or doctrine, or country, or institution, or public building, was invariably cut down into the familiar shape; that is, a single easily pronounced word with the smallest number of syllables that would preserve the original derivation. In the Ministry of Truth, for example, the Records Department, in which Winston Smith worked, was called Recdep, the Fiction Department was called Ficdep, the Teleprogrammes Department was called Teledep, and so on. This was not done solely with the object of saving time. Even in the early decades of the twentieth century, telescoped words and phrases had been one of the characteristic features of political language; and it had been noticed that the tendency to use abbreviations of this kind was most marked in totalitarian countries and totalitarian organizations. Examples were such words as Nazi, Gestapo, Comin- tern, Inprecorr, Agitprop. In the beginning the practice had been adopted as it were instinctively, but in Newspeak it was used with a conscious purpose. It was perceived that in thus abbreviating a name one narrowed and subtly altered its meaning, by cutting out most of the associations that would otherwise cling to it. The words Communist International, for instance, call up a composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx, and the Paris Commune. The word Comintern, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly-knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or a table. Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily. In the same way, the associations called up by a word like Minitrue are fewer and more controllable than those called up by Ministry of Truth. This accounted not only for the habit of abbreviating whenever possible, but also for the almost exaggerated care that was taken to make every word easily pronounceable.

In Newspeak, euphony outweighed every consideration other than exactitude of meaning. Regularity of grammar was always sacrificed to it when it seemed necessary. And rightly so, since what was required, above all for political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker’s mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably these words — goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and countless others — were words of two or three syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness.

For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further. So did the fact of having very few words to choose from. Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly  being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning ’ to quack like a duck’. Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when The Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

The C vocabulary. The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms. These resembled the scientific terms in use today, and were constructed from the same roots, but the usual care was taken to define them rigidly and strip them of undesirable meanings. They followed the same grammatical rules as the words in the other two vocabularies. Very few of the C words had any currency either in everyday speech or in political speech. Any scientific worker or technician could find all the words he needed in the list devoted to his own speciality, but he seldom had more than a smattering of the words occurring in the other lists. Only a very few words were common to all lists, and there was no vocabulary expressing the function of Science as a habit of mind, or a method of thought, irrespective of its particular branches. There was, indeed, no word for ’Science’, any meaning that it could possibly bear being already sufficiently covered by the word Ingsoc. From the foregoing account it will be seen that in Newspeak the expression of unorthodox opinions, above a very low level, was well-nigh impossible. It was of course possible to utter heresies of a very crude kind, a species of blasphemy. 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 redhaired 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. In 1984, when Oldspeak was still the normal means of communication, the danger theoretically existed that in using Newspeak words one might remember their original meanings. In practice it was not difficult for any person well grounded in doublethink to avoid doing this, but within a couple of generations even the possibility of such a lapse would have vaished. A person growing up with Newspeak as his sole language would no more know that equal had once had the secondary meaning of ’politically equal’, or that free had once meant ’intellectually free’, than for instance, a person who had never heard of chess would be aware of the secondary meanings attaching to queen and rook. There would be many crimes and errors which it would be beyond his power to commit, simply because they were nameless and therefore unimaginable. And it was to be foreseen that with the passage of time the distinguishing characteristics of Newspeak would become more and more pronounced — its words growing fewer and fewer, their meanings more and more rigid, and the chance of putting them to improper uses always diminishing. When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten, but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there, imperfectly censored, and so long as one retained one’s knowledge of Oldspeak it was possible to read them. In the future such fragments, even if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable. It was impossible to translate any passage of Oldspeak into Newspeak unless it either referred to some technical process or some very simple everyday action, or was already orthodox (goodthinkful would be the NewsPeak expression) in tendency. In practice this meant that no book written before approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Pre-revolutionary literature could only be subjected to ideological translation— that is, alteration in sense as well as language. Take for example the well-known passage from the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…

It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink. A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson’s words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government. A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being transformed in this way. Considerations of prestige made it desirable to preserve the memory of certain historical figures, while at the same time bringing their achievements into line with the philosophy of Ingsoc. Various writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and some others were therefore in process of translation: when the task had been completed, their original writings, with all else that survived of the literature of the past, would be destroyed.

These translations were a slow and difficult business, and it was not expected that they would be finished before the first or second decade of the twentyfirst century. There were also large quantities of merely utilitarian literature — indispensable technical manuals, and the like — that had to be treated in the same way. It was chiefly in order to allow time for the preliminary work of translation that the final adoption of Newspeak had been fixed for so late a date as 2050.

BACK TO First Paper/ Essay

URL:// http://www.msxnet.org/orwell/print/1984.pdf


Here are  just some examples of the most famous quotations from the author. I have posted here, the ones I consider the best examples of 1984; however I have attached some other interesting links to other pages where you can find plenty of quotations from this and other books. Some of them are written in Spanish and the rest in English:

  • “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.
  • “”War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
  • “”Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  • “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.
  • “”If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.
  • “”Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.
  • “”We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”
  • “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
  • “”Big Brother is Watching You.
  • “”It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
  • “The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.
  • “”But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
  • “”Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from 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 around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what 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. Now you begin to understand me.”
  • “Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.
  • “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
  • “”You are a slow learner, Winston.”
    “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
    “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.
  • “”The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.
  • “”In the face of pain there are no heroes.””Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”








Back to First Paper>>                          Previous page>>

URL:// http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3706.George_Orwell



Published in 1949, the dystopian novel Ninenteen-Eighty-Four is the conclusion of George Orwell’s writing; what is more, it is the conclusion of almost everything that Orwell had written since 1936. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell created a totalitarian universe, Oceania, with its own history and inner mechanism and became so famous that it gave gay to a new term known as “Orwellian” which has come to describe actions or organizations reminiscent of the totalitarian society depicted throughout the novel.

In this essay, I am going to explain the different examples about ‘manipulation of language as a weapon of mind control and abuse of power’ that we can find in the novel, that is to say, the different methods the author uses to show us this.

George Orwell’s writings are focused basically against Fascism. The situations he live throughout his life made him reject any kind of totalitarian society. He lived terrible moments which shocked him, like for example when he travelled to Catalonia during the civil war. At this moment it was when he really realised the dangers of totalitarism. The Word War II also affected him very much indeed. Orwell was against the war because he thought it would lead to some kind of fascism in England. To him it was a repetition of Spain where some people during the civil war wanted to fight Franco in the name of bourgeois democracy.

He thought that Totalitarian societies and specially the one portrayed in the novel wanted to turn humans into machines, to replace the organic by the inorganic, to create synthetic happiness by eradicating all that may evoke natural passions and personal inclinations. They want in this single state all buildings have walls of glass so that the actions of the occupants are visible. Only during sex are the curtains drawn for a brief moment, sexual behaviour being strictly controlled by the Sexual Bureau. This soulless society is ruled by a dictator, the Benefactor, who is supported and helped by a political police (who in this case would be The Big Brother), the Guardians, that hover above the cities with surveillance equipment. Confessions are extracted by torture and criminals are simply liquidated. Informing, even on family members and friends, is a sacred duty.

This is basically what is about Ninenteen-eighty-Four; but what is important here is the way they achieve so, the way they get to control people. They make use of plenty of techniques such as control of information and history, psychological manipulation, physical control, technology, etc, but the ones I going to deal with in depth in my essay are those related to mind control, the ways in which they manipulate people’s minds.

Orwell believed that totalitarianism and the corruption of language were connected. He focused especially on political language where you distorted events and concepts by calling them something else. You said things in such a way that you avoided producing an inner picture of them. As an example, in Politics and the English Language. He said that ‘If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts. ‘ This idea would eventually lead to Newspeak.

This mentioned forms of manipulation are harder to fight against because they are aimed at the mind. First, the entire system is based on falsification of history – for two purposes. Outwardly the Party is infallible and is forced to change all information when it has been wrong in some connection or other. The falsification of history takes place in the Ministry of Truth where Winston works. Of course he knows what he is really doing, but that does not worry him because so many changes have already been made that he is just replacing one lie with another. The second purpose is to eradicate memory from the minds of people. The only reason why people put up with their miserable conditions is that they have been told that it was much worse before the revolution. And as no correct information about the past exists, nobody knows if it is true. Perhaps it really was worse before, and then you shouldn’t complain.

Language as Mind Control

One of Orwell’s most important messages in 1984 is that language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing. If control of language was centralized in a political agency, Orwell proposes, such an agency could possibly alter the very structure of language to make it impossible to even conceive of disobedient or rebellious thoughts, because there would be no words with which to think them. This idea manifests itself in the language of Newspeak, which the Party has introduced to replace English. The Party is constantly refining and perfecting Newspeak, with the ultimate goal that no one will be capable of conceptualizing anything that might question the Party’s absolute power.

When it is necessary to manipulate with history and your own memory it is equally necessary to forget that you have done so. This is accomplished with a mental technique, which in Oldspeak was called reality-control and in Newspeak is called doublethink:

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.” [NEF pp. 31-2]

Newspeak is the official language of Oceania and its purpose is to fulfil the ideological demands of Ingsoc. In 1984 no one employs Newspeak as the only means of expression, but it is expected that Newspeak will have replaced Oldspeak around year 2050. Newspeak consists of abbreviations, and Orwell writes in his Appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four on Newspeak that already early in the twentieth century abbreviations were part of political language. It was especially widespread in totalitarian countries and organisations. As examples he mentions Nazi, Gestapo, Komintern, Inprecorr, Agitprop. From a totalitarian viewpoint the advantage of abbreviations like these is that their meaning is limited and altered so that all associations are removed.

The purpose of Newspeak is not only to be a medium for the ideas and worldview of Ingsoc; it is also meant to make all other ways of thinking impossible and thus remove all heretical thoughts.

” ’Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. […] Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. […] In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’ ” [NEF pp. 45-6]

At a point Winston writes in his diary that he understands how but not why. This why George Bowling already asked in Coming up for Air in 1939, and in Nineteen Eighty-Four O’Brien gives him the answer.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. […] Power it not a means, it is an end.” [NEF p. 211]

First of all you have to realise, O’Brien says, that power is collective. The individual only has power if he ceases to be an individual. Alone and free man will always suffer defeat. It has to be this way because man is mortal. But if the individual can subject himself completely, if he can escape from his identity, if he can let himself be engulfed so much by the Party that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. Next, you have to realise that power is power over people, over the body and especially over the mind.

” ’If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.’ ” [NEF p. 215]

The Thought Police have telescreens in every household and public area, as well as hidden microphones and spies in order to catch potential thought criminals who could endanger the sanctity of the Party. Children were carefully brainwashed from birth to report any suspected thought criminal, even their parents.

Newspeak is a fictional or artificial language. At the end of the novel there is an appendix on Newspeak (the artificial language invented and, by degrees, imposed by the Party to limit the capacity to express or even think “unorthodox” thoughts), in the style of an academic essay, and explains how the language is designed to standardise thought to reflect the ideology of Ingsoc; that is, by making “all other modes of thought impossible”.
By means of the creation of this newspeak, what they want to achieve is a language that does not allow any bad though or even contrary to the Party. By eliminating any thought contrary to the Party they make sure that they all love it and cannot destroy it.

This suited the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim was to make subversive thought (“thoughtcrime”) and speech impossible.
The Newspeak term for the existing English language was Oldspeak. Oldspeak was supposed to have been completely eclipsed by Newspeak by 2050.

The genesis of Orwell’s Newspeak can be seen in his earlier essay, Politics and the English Language, (which is explained much more in deep here) where he laments the quality of the English of his day, citing examples of dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words – all of which contribute to fuzzy ideas and a lack of logical thinking. Towards the end of this essay, having argued his case, Orwell muses:

I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.

Thus Newspeak is possibly an attempt by Orwell to describe a deliberate intent to exploit this decadence with the aim of oppressing its speakers.

A comparison to Newspeak may arguably be seen in political rhetoric, where two opposing sides string together phrases so empty of meaning that they may be compared to the taunts young children toss back and forth. The arguments of either side ultimately reduce to “I’m good; he’s bad.”

Charges of Newspeak are sometimes advanced when a group tries to replace a word/phrase that is politically unsuitable (e.g. “civilian casualties”) or offensive (e.g. “murder”) with a politically correct or inoffensive one (e.g. “collateral damage”). Some maintain that to make certain words or phrases ‘unspeakable’ (thoughtcrime), restricts what ideas may be held (Newspeak) and is therefore tantamount to censorship. Others believe that expunging terms that have fallen out of favour or become insulting will make people less likely to hold outdated or offensive views. The intent to alter the minds of the public through changes made to language illustrates Newspeak perfectly.

Either way, there is a resemblance between political correctness and Newspeak, although some may feel that they differ in their intentions: in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Newspeak is instituted to enhance the power of the state over the individual; politically correct language, on the other hand, is said by supporters to free individuals from stereotypical preconceptions caused by the use of prejudicial terminology. It is this attempt to change thought through changing (or eliminating) words that earns political correctness the connection to Newspeak. The main distinction is that politically correct language is often inspired only by politeness, while Newspeak has a more explicit limiting political motivation.

However, there exist striking instances where Orwell’s speculation have matched with reality. Orwell suggested that all philosophies prior to Ingsoc (English Socialism) would be covered under the term ‘oldthink,’ bearing with it none of the nuances of these ideologies, but simply a connotation of badness. Since the Cold War, a similar effect has been wrought on the word ‘communism,’ where it no longer bears with it, to most people, the doctrines of Marx, Engels, or Lenin, but rather a general bad connotation. (Much the same could be said about ‘fascism,’ perhaps with even more accuracy.)

Two examples unrelated to political correctness are Basic English, a language which prides itself on reducing the number of English words, and E-Prime another simplifed version of English.

Political groups often avail themselves of the principles behind Newspeak to frame their views in a positive way. Thus the term “estate tax” was replaced by the “death tax.” A similar effect may be observed in the abortion debates where those advocating restrictions on abortion label themselves “pro-life,” leaving their opponents presumably “anti-life.” Conversely, those advocating greater availability of abortion call themselves “pro-choice,” and the opposition “anti-choice,” to engender similarly positive emotions.

Another common use of Newspeak today is the overuse of abbreviations. To quote from the 1984 Appendix “It was perceived that in thus abbreviating a name one narrowed and subtly altered its meaning, by cutting out most of the associations that would otherwise cling to it.” Attention is also drawn to the use of such abbreviations by totalitarian regimes prior to World War II.

Even more powerful are acronyms like “Ofcom,” “AIDS,” “OPEC” and “NAFTA,” which can be pronounced as if they were proper words. This is most vividly seen in an acronym like “laser,” which today is nearly always written in lowercase. Acronyms contain less information than the full term and tend not to trigger spontaneous associations; this also makes them ambiguous and therefore vulnerable to misuse.

*Newspeak words

*Basic principles of newspeak (short summary)

The Party barrages its subjects with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the mind’s capacity for independent thought. The giant telescreen in every citizen’s room blasts a constant stream of propaganda designed to make the failures and shortcomings of the Party appear to be triumphant successes. The telescreens also monitor behavior—everywhere they go, citizens are continuously reminded, especially by means of the omnipresent signs reading “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” that the authorities are scrutinizing them. The Party undermines family structure by inducting children into an organization called the Junior Spies, which brainwashes and encourages them to spy on their parents and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party. The Party also forces individuals to suppress their sexual desires, treating sex as merely a procreative duty whose end is the creation of new Party members. The Party then channels people’s pent-up frustration and emotion into intense, ferocious displays of hatred against the Party’s political enemies. Many of these enemies have been invented by the Party expressly for this purpose.

The idea of “doublethink” emerges as an important consequence of the Party’s massive campaign of large-scale psychological manipulation. Simply put, doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time. As the Party’s mind-control techniques break down an individual’s capacity for independent thought, it becomes possible for that individual to believe anything that the Party tells them, even while possessing information that runs counter to what they are being told. At the Hate Week rally, for instance, the Party shifts its diplomatic allegiance, so the nation it has been at war with suddenly becomes its ally, and its former ally becomes its new enemy. When the Party speaker suddenly changes the nation he refers to as an enemy in the middle of his speech, the crowd accepts his words immediately, and is ashamed to find that it has made the wrong signs for the event. In the same way, people are able to accept the Party ministries’ names, though they contradict their functions: the Ministry of Plenty oversees economic shortages, the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth conducts propaganda and historical revisionism, and the Ministry of Love is the center of the Party’s operations of torture and punishment.

Just in order to understand better what doublethink means, it is necessary to give an example like “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 Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party 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.

The same happens at the end of the novel, when the protagonist does not believe in the Party and the members make them a brainwash and he finally says that he believes but it is not true. For them, it is not enough to say that you believe on the Party, Actually you have to believe it, to be sure that you love it, even although it means to betray what you previously thought.

It could be said that Doublethink is an integral concept of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the word doublethink is part of Newspeak.

Orwell explains that the Party could not protect its iron power without degrading its people with constant propaganda. Yet, knowledge of this brutal deception, even within the Inner Party itself, could lead to collapse of the State from within. Though Nineteen Eighty-Four is most famous for the Party’s pervasive surveillance of everyday life, this control means that the population of Oceania—all of it, including the ruling élite—could be controlled and manipulated merely through the alteration of everyday thought and language. Newspeak is the method for controlling thought through language; doublethink is the method of directly controlling thought.

Newspeak incorporates doublethink, as it contains many words that create assumed associations between contradictory meanings, especially true of fundamentally important words such as good and evil; right and wrong; truth and falsehood; justice and injustice.

In the case of workers at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, doublethink means being able to falsify public records, and then believe in the new history that they, themselves, had just written. As revealed in Goldstein’s Book, the Ministry’s name is itself an example of doublethink: the Ministry of Truth is really concerned with lies. The other ministries of Airstrip One are similarly named: the Ministry of Peace is concerned with war, the Ministry of Love is concerned with torture and the Ministry of Plenty is concerned with starvation.

Moreover, doublethink’s self-deception allows the Party to maintain huge goals and realistic expectations: 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. Thus, each Party member could be a credulous pawn, but would never lack relevant information. The Party is both fanatical and well-informed, thus unlikely either to “ossify” or “grow soft” and collapse. Doublethink would avoid a “killing the messenger” attitude that could disturb the Command structure. Thus, doublethink is the key tool of self-discipline for the Party, complementing the state-imposed discipline of propaganda, and the police state. Together, these tools hid the government’s evil not just from the people, but from the government itself, but without the confusion and misinformation associated with primitive totalitarian regimes.

Doublethink is critical in allowing the Party to know what its true goals are without recoiling from them, avoiding the conflation of a regime’s egalitarian propaganda with its true purpose.

Paradoxically, during the long and harrowing process in which Winston is systematically tortured and broken, he contemplates using doublethink as the ultimate recourse in his rebellion—i.e. to let himself become consciously a loyal party member while letting his hatred of the party remain an unconscious presence deep in his mind, and let it surface again at the very moment of his execution so that “the bullet would enter a free mind” which the Thought Police would not have a chance to tamper with again.

Since 1949 (when Nineteen Eighty-Four was published), the word doublethink has become synonymous with relieving cognitive dissonance by ignoring the contradiction between two world views—or even of deliberately seeking to relieve cognitive dissonance. Some schools of psychotherapy, such as cognitive therapy, encourage people to alter their own thoughts as a way of treating different psychological maladies (see cognitive distortions).

Orwell’s “Doublethink” is also credited with having inspired the commonly used “Doubletalk“, which itself does not appear in Orwell’s book.

And for an excellent overview of political language and doublespeak in general, Michele Damon, a technical writing graduate from UCF has created a Doublespeak site that takes a very comprehensive close look at the misuse of language to corrupt and mislead thought.


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »