in the dystopian novel "1984", by George Orwell, there is the fictional secret book
- that is used as a thematic and plot element
- which was written by one Emmanuel Goldstein
- Goldstein is the principal enemy of the totalitarian state of Oceania
- ruled by the seemingly omnipotent, omniscient Party,
- G. is a former member of the Inner Party
- he is continually conspiring against the leadership of Big Brother
About the Book's legend
- early in the story, the protagonist thinks to himself:
- "There were ... whispered stories of a terrible Book,
--- a compendium of all the heresies,
--- of which Goldstein was the author &
--- which circulated clandestinely here and there.
--- the Book (allegedly, without a title)
--- People referred to it, if at all, simply as "The Book".
- The protagonist, Winston Smith, secretly hates the Party and Big Brother
--- Eventually, he approaches O'Brien, a high-level member of the Inner Party
--- believing him as a part of the Brotherhood
----- (Goldstein's conspiracy against Oceania, Big Brother, and the Party)
--- Initially, O'Brien appears as such,
--- especially in giving Winston a copy of Goldstein's illegal book
The Book's description
- O'Brien says, that it reveals the true, totalitarian nature of the society,
- that the Party established in Oceania
- the true title of "The Book" - "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism"
- full membership to the Brotherhood requires reading & knowing it
- Winston examines the book, before reading it, noting that it was:
--- "A 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 term "oligarchical collectivism" refers to:
- "Ingsoc" (English Socialism) - the Party's ideology - in Oceania,
- also to the ideologies of the other 2 enemy states
- Neo-Bolshevism - in Eurasia;
- "Death Worship" or "Obliteration of the Self" - in Eastasia.
Winston reads 2 long excerpts:
- establishing how the 3 totalitarian super-states – Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia
- emerged from a global war,
- thus connecting the past and the present for Winston
The Book explains the basic political philosophy of the totalitarianism
- that derived from the authoritarian political tendencies manifested in the 1-st part of the 20 century
- the central revelations of "The Book" is:
--- the 3 "opposing" ideologies are functionally identical
Literary opinions about The Book
- James Decker identifies it, as a parody of Leon Trotsky's real-life book "The Revolution Betrayed".
- Carl Freedman instead states, that it is based on ex-Trotskyist - James Burnham's "The Managerial Revolution"
Contents of The Book
--- all chapters of "the book" are titled with Party slogans
- Chapter 1: "Ignorance is Strength" (about the class struggle)
- Chapter 2: presumably titled "Freedom is Slavery" after the remaining Party slogan (it is not detailed in the novel)
- Chapter 3: "War is Peace"
- Other chapters featuring a programme for deposing the Party (according to O'Brien)
Chapter 1 - "Ignorance is Strength" (about the class struggle)
1A. The class structure of all human societies:
- beginning with the historical observation, that all societies always hierarchically divided themselves
- into 3 social classes or castes:
--- the "High" (who rule);
--- the "Middle" (who work for, and yearn to supplant the High), and
--- the "Low" (whose goal is daily survival)
1B. The class struggle is perpetual & cyclical:
- the "Middle" deposing the "High"
--- by temporarily enlisting the "Low"
--- but upon assuming power, the "Middle" (the new "High") recast the "Low" into their usual servitude
1C. Subversive (by the "High" opinion) propaganda is:
- when the "Middle" speaks to the "Low" of "justice" & "human brotherhood"
- tempting them to join the "Middle's" fight of replacing the "High"
Ian Slater writes that Goldstein goes beyond George Orwell's previous beliefs
- expressed in his earlier works:
- such as "A Clergyman's Daughter"
--- in which the "Middle" makes a pretense of "believing in equality"
- or in "Animal Farm":
--- the state sought power to improve society
--- but once technological advances make equality possible
--- the "Middle" abandons their former promises
--- (as liberalism only stands in the way of their aims)
--- they become explicitly tyrannical & openly hostile to liberalism
In "1084", the Party distinguishes from previous tyrannies
1. The rhetoric of the Party becomes "Ingsoc" & "hierarchical collectivism"
2. It pursuits of naked power & utter lack of liberalism
3. Initially, the Party justifies its control through dedication to socialism
- by superficial focusing on collectivism, the Party can:
--- consolidate their power &
--- present "Ingsoc" as an inevitable followup to capitalism
--- in which the "Low" are no longer exploited
4. But once the Party consolidates its power, all justifications are abandoned
5. in reality, the social castes are no longer necessary
- and collectivism only serves to prolong the exploitation of the "Low"
- while O'Brien does not own his mansion
- he still lives in luxury compared to the lower castes
6. The Party itself is a meritocracy, not hereditocracy
- This is rooted not in egalitarianism, but in practicality,
- as the Party realizes that its continuation depends on purity of orthodoxy, rather than a bloodline.
Unlike Orwell's prior writings, the Party's exploitation in this case is fully intentional.
- Orwell desired to show through the Party's unrealistic politics
- that modern authoritarianism was growing more lustful of power for power's sake
- Orwell believed that modern states could bring about the desire of the Spanish Inquisition
--- to not only control men behavior, but also control their thoughts.
- This could be achieved through technological breakthroughs:
--- such as the telescreen, a 2-way television that allows continuous government espionage of the population
--- Efficient use of such technology to control the populace requires centralization,
--- and the 4 ministries of Oceania – Truth, Peace, Love, and Plenty – fill this need.
Oligarchical collectivism: The Oceanian social-class pyramid in the year 1984 ----------------------->
The Proles usually are not subject to propaganda
- Instead, it is the middle class – the Outer Party – that the Inner Party fears
- Because the Proles have lost everything & have nothing
--- they have no future.
- The Party, through the Ministry of Truth, practices historical revisionism
--- which robs the Proles of a past, too
- the Proles (robbed of the ability to learn from history & the worries of the future)
--- exist in state of constant present &
--- are incapable of revolution
In order to prevent any unorthodoxy, the Ministry of Truth uses Newspeak
- an impoverished language, that makes heresy impossible
- by omitting words that could express it
- Newspeak also reduces thought to simple opposites:
--- such as good and "ungood"
--- an intentional dichotomy, that hides nuance & ambiguity,
--- while promoting black & white thinking
Party members are further subject to self-deceptive habits of mind, such as:
- crime-stop ("preventive stupidity")
--- which halts thinking at the threshold of politically dangerous thought
--- which allows simultaneously holding & believing contradictory thoughts without noticing contradictions
- Example to wit:
--- “... by the exercise of double-think, he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated ...
--- To tell deliberate lies, while genuinely believing in them,
--- to forget any fact, that has become inconvenient, and then,
--- when it becomes necessary, 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 double-think it is necessary to exercise double-think”
Chapter 3 - "War is Peace"
- Before reading the 2-nd chapter, Winston reads the 3-rd chapter,
- which explains that slogan-title's meaning, by reviewing how the global super-states were established:
3A. The United States merged with the British Empire & Latin America to form Oceania;
3B. The USSR absorbed continental Europe to form Eurasia; and
3C. Eastasia emerged "after a decade of confused fighting",
- with China's annexation of Japan, Korea & parts of Mongolia and Tibet.
3D. In various alliances, they have warred for 25 years.
- Yet the perpetual war is militarily nonsensical, because
- "it is a warfare of limited aims between combatants, who:
--- are unable to destroy one another,
--- have no material cause for fighting and
--- are not divided by any genuine ideological difference",
--- since each is a totalitarian state.
Scientific advance is held carefully in check
- as the Party does not want to allow for any unaccounted abundance of goods,
- which could conceivably raise the quality of life beyond bare subsistence for the Proles.
- The only technological advances permitted are in mind control & genocide,
- the twin goals of each of the superstates.
Once mind control is perfected, the superstates are free to destroy their counterparts
- in a theoretical single, decisive strike that precludes retaliation
- Technological advancement, even in war, can be counterproductive to the goals of the Party;
- none of the superstates are a true threat to each other,
- as they all must exist in a state of permanent limited war to survive.
- By harnessing the hysteria of war & demand for self-sacrifice
- each of the nations declare war not on each other
- but on their own populace,
- who are kept ignorant, on the brink of starvation, & overworked.
- Permanent limited war also allows for the Party to divert attention away from domestic concerns & their failures.
- Instead of promises of an "easy, safe life", Orwell believed that the populace requires heroic nationalism.
- Thus, war becomes a psychological tool to establish a kind of ironic "peace"
- a stasis where progress is impossible & nothing ever changes,
- except for the possibility of eventual global conquest.
- Winston never has the opportunity to finish reading "The Book",
- and learn the "Why's?" of Oceania & the world order in 1984
- before the Thought Police arrest him;
- yet he believes that the hope of change lies with the Proles
Actual Author of "The Book" - a special Party commitee
- O'Brien rejects Winston Smith's perspective as nonsense,
- because he is a faithful member of the Inner Party,
- not a revolutionary of the Brotherhood.
- At the Miniluv, he tortures Winston, in order to cure him of his political insanity:
- that there exists an objective reality, external to that of the Party.
- In their torture chamber conversations, he tells Winston that:
--- "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism", "the Book" by Emmanuel Goldstein,
--- was written by a Party committee, that included him.
- When Winston asks O'Brien, if "the Book" is true, he replies:
--- "As description, yes. The programme it sets forth ... is nonsense".