Ingsoc

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
English Socialist Party
Ingsoc logo from 1984.svg
Flag of Ingsoc in the 1984 film
UniverseNineteen Eighty-four
TypePolitical party
LeaderBig Brother
Key peopleO'Brien
Emmanuel Goldstein (defected)
Slogan"Big Brother is Watching You"
"Proles and Animals are free"
"War is Peace"
"Freedom is Slavery"
"Ignorance is Strength"
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past"
Colours     Black      White      Red
IdeologyBig Brotherism
Historical negationism
Obscurantism
Oligarchical collectivism
Totalitarianism

The English Socialist Party, also known as English Socialism and most famously as Ingsoc, is the fictional political party of the totalitarian government of Oceania in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949. Orwell himself, a self-avowed democratic socialist, feared that socialism in his native Britain would turn into a totalitarian society governed by an ideology resembling that of Ingsoc.

Origins[edit]

Oceania, the fictional superstate in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, appears to have emerged from a formal political union of the United States and the countries of the British Commonwealth, which later annexed the remainder of the Americas. Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein led the Party to power in Oceania after a revolution. 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. Big Brother and the Party would eventually brand Goldstein a criminal and use him as a symbol of treachery and sedition.

Political philosophy[edit]

Emmanuel Goldstein's The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism describes the Party's ideology as an oligarchical collective 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 telescreens. Big Brother is constantly watching Oceania's citizens and Ingsoc demands the complete submission (mental, moral and physical) of the people, with the Party willing to torture people 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 and 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.

Ingsoc's social class system[edit]

Population breakdown

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

Although these classes interact little, the protagonist Winston Smith attends an evening at a cinema, where people from all three classes view the same film program. He visits a Prole's pub without attracting notice (or so he thinks), as well as the flat of Inner Party member O'Brien on the pretext of borrowing the newest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Meanwhile, Ingsoc's propaganda frequently proclaims how egalitarian and free Oceania is, when in reality Oceania is not egalitarian or free at all, as (for example) the Proles and some middle-class citizens are hideously exploited and live in poverty while the upper class work little and live well and comfortably with food and consumer goods being more scarce and expensive than even 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 the amount taken up by constant warfare between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. If the Party chose, all members of society could live in luxury, but they instead choose to make the standard of living as low as possible as they believe it is important that the lower classes remain stupefied by poverty and the struggle for mere survival since they also believe that if they were to become comfortable, they might learn to think for themselves and ultimately start a rebellion.

Upper class (Inner Party)[edit]

The upper class make up less than 2% of Oceania's population. Among their privileges is the ability to completely turn off their telescreens. They live in spacious, comfortable homes, have good food and drink, personal servants, and speedy transportation such as personal helicopters and automobiles (while the middle and lower classes are not allowed to privately own any vehicles) and no middle-class citizen or Prole may enter an upper-class neighbourhood without permission from an upper-class citizen. According to Goldstein's book, middle-class citizens ambitious or loyal enough may be promoted to join the upper class starting from a certain age. Within the upper class are the Inner Party, whose members make policy, influence decisions, and govern.

Despite their insulation and overt privileges, the upper class are still not exempt from Big Brother's brutal restriction of thought and behaviour, even while lies and propaganda apparently originate from their own ranks. Instead, the Inner Party stay loyal to Big Brother and offer the remainder of the upper class these "luxuries" and rich lifestyles in exchange for them maintaining their loyalty to the state; non-conformant upper-class citizens (even Inner Party members themselves) can still be condemned, tortured, and executed just like any other individual. Also, all people in both the upper and middle classes are expected to abstain completely from any kind of sexual activity other than normal intercourse strictly for reproduction within marriage, since allowing sex in any less restrictive forms would permit self-actualisation, individual intimacy, and intellectual freedom which all go against the Party's agenda.

Finally, even the upper class's living conditions are only "relatively" luxurious and comfortable, and Goldstein's book explains that these conditions would in fact be considered "austere" by those who remember life before Ingsoc[1]. The upper class's living standards could be compared to that of the middle class in today's world.

Middle class (Outer Party)[edit]

The middle class is home to the Outer Party, whose members are the bureaucrats that work the State's administrative jobs and directly implement the Party's policies, while not being allowed to have any voice in their formulation whatsoever. They are essential to the Party's success, but the Party will only tolerate them under very hostile conditions. The middle class, including the Outer Party, are allowed "no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin", and they are the citizens under the heaviest surveillance. This is because according to history and the Party the middle class' combination of intellectual ability and lack of power means they are the ones that are most likely to rebel against Big Brother. They are therefore expected to sustain a continuous, patriotic frenzy for the Party, with the Outer Party also required to blindly accept nearly every order from their superiors, all while simultaneously being condemned to live in rundown neighbourhoods, use bicycles and subways as transportation, and to persist in an ongoing state of near starvation with meager rations of low-quality food and drink. They could be debated as the worst off in the class system, as they lack the freedom of the proles, and the luxuries of the upper class and Inner Party.

Working class (Proles)[edit]

The Proles (proletariat) are the lower class of workers, performing the bulk of manual labour required in Oceania. They live in the poorest conditions, but they may be considered more fortunate than the middle class as they are under little surveillance. The Party keep them happy and sedate them with pleasures like alcohol, gambling, sport, sexual promiscuity, and prolefeed (fabricated entertainment, including pornography). Although the Proles are fully capable of gaining sophisticated views of their own lives or of society, the Party do not believe that they are capable of doing so (possibly being oblivious to this capability or through an act of doublethink). Therefore, the Party consider them harmless, as if they lacked any greater will or consciousness than would be typically ascribed to animals. The Proles are regarded as the individuals that are "truly free" and "remained human". They are not required to install telescreens in their homes (since most cannot even afford one), and no Prole who does own a telescreen ever uses it for surveillance purposes as the government do not require them to do so. They also maintain Oldspeak, as they are believed to be stupid enough to believe the propaganda of Ingsoc and not rebel. Despite these freedoms, a few Thought Police officers are deployed among the Proles to mark down and attempt to eliminate any individuals deemed capable of rebellion. Proles make up 85% of Oceania's population.

In the novel, Winston Smith notes that "if there is hope, it lies in the Proles" (i.e. among the three classes, the Proles have the highest chance of rebelling against and successfully overthrowing the Party).

Other political ideologies in Nineteen Eighty-Four[edit]

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, or Obliteration of the Self, is described as the translation of 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 is practised 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. The fact that all that Oceania's citizens are allowed to know about the world is whatever the Party want them to know has led some to hypothesise that the other superstates do not really exist, with some even arguing that Oceania does not exist as a superstate, but are rather fabrications of the Party (part of a storyline that the Party invented to advance social control).

How Ingsoc gained control of the British Empire and the Americas in a historically short period is unknown. In his book, Goldstein says that Oceania was created "with the absorption of [...] the British Empire by the United States" and may have occurred in the aftermath of the nuclear war of the 1950s also referred to in the book. However, it could very well be an exaggeration of size of the regime, to intimidate Party Members of the might of Ingsoc and keep them in line. Some[who?] have claimed that Goldstein's book itself may have been written by the Party, and therefore it may have been subjected to the same historical negation as the Party's other propaganda, resulting in it being potentially unreliable as a 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 program it sets forth [...] is nonsense".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1984".Part 2, Chapter 9

External links[edit]