Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Signet Classic, Penguin Group
This book was one that became a must read for a large number of people since it was written by George Orwell in 1949. It is sometimes published with 1984 spelled out: Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is such a classic I don’t need to do an opening on it except to say it is happening now before our very eyes and the horror of it is it is being embraced. I am going to use the AFTERWORD in the Signet Classic edition that was at the very end of the book as the beginning. It says it much better than I could:
From the AFTERWORD
“George Orwell’s 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, then all over the world people will lose their most human qualities and will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it.
“The mood of hopelessness about the future of man is in marked contrast to one of the most fundamental features of Western thought: the faith in human progress and man’s capacity to create a world of justice, and peace. This hope has its roots in both Greek and Roman thinking, as well as in the Messianic concept of the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament philosophy of history assumes that man grows and unfolds in history. He eventually becomes what he potentially is. It assumes that he develops his powers of reason and love fully, and thus is enabled to grasp the world, being one with his fellow man and nature, at the same time preserving his individuality and his integrity. Universal peace and justice are the goals of man, and the prophets have faith that in spite of all errors and sins, eventually this, end of days will arrive, symbolized by the figure of the Messiah.
“The prophetic concept was a historical one, a state of perfection to be realized by man with an historical time. Christianity transformed this concept into a transhistorical, purely spiritual one, yet it did not give up the idea of the connection between moral norms and politics. . . . “ Page 257
From the novel itself:
“How is the dictionary getting on?” said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.
“Slowly,” said Syme. ” I’m on the adjectives. It’s fascinating.”
“The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,” he said. “We’re getting the language into its final shape – the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When they’re finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I daresay, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.” Page 45
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; they’re also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other words? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good,’ for instance. If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? Ungood will do just as well – better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good,’ What sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ coalition meeting, or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end, the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words – in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B’s idea originally, of course,” he added as an afterthought.” Page 45/46
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thought crime 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. Already in the Eleventh Edition, were not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. 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 thought crime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,” he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. “Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?” Page 46/47
“The proles are not human beings,” he said, carelessly. “By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron – they’ll exist only Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually change it to something contradictory from what they used to be. Even the literature of the party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery” when the whole concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there’ll be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
“One of these days thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.” Page 47
“ . . . With that tobacco ration at hundred grams a week it was seldom possible to fill a pipe up to the top. Winston was smoking a Victory Cigarette, which he held carefully horizontal. The new ration did not start till tomorrow and he had only four cigarettes left. For the moment he had shut his ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. But only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. . . .” Page 51
“The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. It’s real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much as eroticism was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it. All marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee appointed for the purpose, and – though the principle was never clearly stated – permission was always refused if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another. The only recognized purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of the Party. Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema.” Page 57
“. . . .that she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none, that she was not capable of swallowing. If the party handed it out to her. . . .” Page 58
“ . . . Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship. . . . “ Page 110
“That was very true, he thought. It was a direct, intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed and its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the party, and the party had turned it to account. They had played a similar trick with the instinct of parenthood. The family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their children in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.” Page 111
“. . . Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except in the present in which the party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done no evidence ever remains. . . . “ Page128
“. . . Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy, while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They can be made to accept most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.” Page 129
“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motorcar or even an airplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in a sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society is only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance. To return to the agricultural past, as some thinkers about the beginning of the twentieth century dreamed of doing, was not a practical solution. It conflicted with the tendency toward mechanization, which had become quasi-instinctive throughout the whole world, and moreover, any country which remained industrially backwards was helpless in a military sense and was bound to be dominated, directly or in directly, bias more advanced rivals.” Page 156/157
“In past ages , a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or later came to an end, usually in an unmistakable victory or defeat. In the past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical reality. All rulers of all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military efficiency. So long as defeat meant the loss of independence, or some other result generally held to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat had to be serious. Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an airplane they had to make four. Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers and history books were, of course, always colored and biased, but falsification of the kind that is practiced today would have been impossible. War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned, it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class afford to be completely irresponsible.” Page 163