Ministry of Plenty
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (February 2014)|
The Ministry of Plenty (in Newspeak, Miniplenty) is one of the ministries from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four that governs Oceania. The other ministries are the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace and the Ministry of Love.
The Ministry of Plenty is in control of Oceania's planned economy. It oversees public access to food, supplies, and goods. It is also in charge of rationing these goods. As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production. This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, weak populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, powerful populace. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see Ministry of Truth).
The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:
But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.
Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty, scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.
A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries. These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes - a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.
In the Michael Radford film adaptation, the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.
While the term "Ministry" implies that it is headed by a minister, there is nowhere in the book any mention of a Minister of Plenty nor of the ministers heading Oceania's three other Ministries. The heads of the ministries are evidently shadowy figures with all public attention focused on Big Brother.