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Chapter 8 Doublethink
On the sixth day of Hate Week, just before two thousand Eurasian prisoners were hanged in the park, the people of Oceania were told that they were not at war with Eurasia now.
They were at war with Eastasia and Eurasia was a friend. You could hear it on the telescreens — Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
Winston had worked more than ninety hours in the last five days of Hate Week. N o w he had finished and he had nothing to do, no Party work until tomorrow morning. Slowly, in the afternoon sunshine, he walked up a narrow street to Mr Charrington’s shop, watching for the Thought Police, but sure — although he had no reason to be sure — that he was safe. In his case, heavy against his legs, he carried the book, Goldstein’s book. He had had it for six days but had not looked at it yet.
Tired but not sleepy, he climbed the stairs above Mr Charrington’s shop. He opened the window and put the water on for coffee. Julia would be here soon. He took Goldstein’s book out of his case and opened it. Then he heard Julia coming up the stairs and jumped out of his chair to meet her. She put her brown tool bag on the floor and threw herself into his arms. It was more than a week since they had seen each other.
‘I’ve got the book’, he said.
‘Oh, you’ve got it? Good,’ she said without much interest, and almost immediately bent down to make the coffee.
They did not talk about the book again until they had been in bed for half an hour. It was evening and just cool enough to have a blanket over them. Julia was falling asleep by his side. Winston picked the book up from the floor and sat up in bed.
‘We must read it,’ he said. ‘You too. A l l members of the Brotherhood have to read it.’
’ Y o u read it,’ she said with her eyes shut. ‘Read it to me, that’s the best way. Then you can explain it to me.’
The clock’s hands said six, meaning eighteen. They had three or four hours ahead of them. He put the book against his knee and began reading:
There have always been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low. The world has changed but society always contains these three groups.
‘Julia, are you awake?’ said Winston.
Yes, my love, I ‘ m listening.’
The aims of the three groups are completely different. The High want to stay where they are. The Middle want to change places with the High.
Sometimes the Low have no aim at all, because they are too tired from endless boring work to have an aim. If they do have one, they want to live in a new world where all people are equal.
At the beginning of the twentieth century this equality became possible for the first time because machines did so much of the work. A centuries old dream seemed to be coming true. But in the early 1930s the High group saw the danger to them of equality for all and did everything possible to stop it.
The individual suffered in ways that he had not suffered for centuries.
Prisoners of war were sent into slavery or hanged. Thousands were sent to prison although they had broken no law. The populations of whole countries were forced to leave their homes. And all this was defended and even supported by people who said they believed in progress.
The people who entered the new High group were from the professions: scientists, teachers, journalists. They used newspapers, radio, film and television to control people’s thoughts. When a television that could both send and receive information was invented, private life came to an end. Every individual, or at least every important individual, could be watched twenty-four hours a day. For the first time it was possible to force people to obey the Party and to share the Party’s opinion on all subjects.
After the 1950s and 1960s the danger of equality had been ended and society had re-grouped itself, as always, into High, Middle and Low.
But the new High group, for the first time, knew how to stay in that position for ever.
First, in the middle years of the twentieth century, the Party made sure that it owned all the property — all the factories, land, houses, everything except really small pieces of personal property. This meant that a few people (the Inner Party) owned almost everything and the Middle and Low groups owned nearly nothing. There was therefore no hope of moving up in society by becoming richer and owning more.
But the problem of staying in power is more complicated than that.
In the past, High groups have fallen from power either because they have lost control of the Middle or Low groups or because they have become too weak, or because they have been attacked and beaten by an army from outside.
After the middle of the century there was really no more danger from the Middle or Low groups. The Party had made itself stronger by killing all of its first leaders (people like Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford). By 1970 Big Brother was the only leader and Emmanuel Goldstein was in hiding somewhere.
The Party then kept itself strong. The child of Inner Party parents is not born into the Inner Party; there is an examination, taken at the age of sixteen. Weak Inner Party members are moved down and clever Outer Party members are allowed to move up. Although proles do not usually move up into the Party, the Party always stops itself from becoming stupid or weak.
The Party has also made attack from the outside impossible. There are now only three great countries in the world. They are always at war but none of them can win or even wishes to win these wars. Following the idea of ‘doublethink’ the mind of the Party, which controls us all, both knows and does not know the aim of these wars. The aim is to use everything that a country produces without making its people richer. If people became richer, there would be an end to the world of the High, the Middle and the Low. The Low and the Middle would not wish to stay in their places and would not need to.
The Middle and Low are kept in their places by their belief in the wars that none of the three countries can win. So the Party has to end independent thought and make people believe everything they are told.
The Party must know what every person is thinking, so they never want to end the war. War continues, always and for ever.
People are given somewhere to live, something to wear and something to eat. That is all they need and they must never want more. They are given work, but only the Thought Police do their work really well.
All good things in the world of Oceania today, all knowledge, all happiness, come from Big Brother. Nobody has ever seen Big Brother. He is a face on posters, a voice on the telescreen. We can be sure that he will never die. Big Brother is the way the Party shows itself to the people.
Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party, which is now six million people, less than 2% of the population of Oceania. Below the Inner Party comes the Outer Party. The Inner Party is like the mind of the Party and the Outer Party is like its hands. Below that come the millions of people we call ‘the proles’, about 85% of the population.
A Party member lives under the eye of the Thought Police from birth to death. Even when he is alone he can never be sure he is alone. He will never make a free choice in his life.
But there is no law and there are no rules. They are not necessary.
Most people know what they must do - in Newspeak they are ‘goodthinkers’. And since Party members were children they have been trained in three more Newspeak words: ‘crimestop’, ‘blackwhite’ and ‘doublethink’.
Even young children are taught ‘crimestop’. It means stopping before you think a wrong thought. When you are trained in ‘crimestop’ you cannot think a thought against the Party. You think only what the Party wants you to think.
But the Party wants people to think different thoughts all the time.
The important word here is ‘blackwhite.’ Like many Newspeak words, this has two meanings. Enemies say that black is white — they tell lies.
But Party members say that black is white because the Party tells them to and because they believe it. They must forget that they ever had a different belief.
‘Blackwhite’ and ‘crimestop’ are both part of ‘doublethink’.
‘Doublethink’ allows people to hold two different ideas in their minds at the same time — and to accept both of them. In this way they can live with a changing reality, including a changing past. The past must be changed all the time because the Party can never make a mistake. That is the most important reason. It is also important that nobody can remember a time better than now and so become unhappy with the present. By using ‘doublethink’ the Party has been able to stop history, keep power and …
‘Julia, are you awake?’
No answer. She was asleep. He shut the book, put it carefully on the floor, lay down and put the blanket over both of them.
The book had not told him anything he did not already know, but after reading it he knew he was not mad. He shut his eyes. He was safe, everything was all right.
When he woke he thought he had slept a long time but, looking at the old clock, he saw it was only twenty-thirty.
Outside he could hear singing. It was a song written in the Ministry of Truth and a prole woman was singing it. If there was hope, thought Winston, it was because of the proles. Even without reading the end of Goldstein’s book, he knew that was his message. The future belonged to the proles; Party members were the dead.
‘We are the dead,’ he said.
‘We are the dead,’ agreed Julia.
‘You are the dead,’ said a voice behind them.
They jumped away from each other. Winston felt his blood go cold. Julia’s face had turned a milky yellow.
‘You are the dead,’ repeated the voice.
‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.
‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Stay exactly where you are. Do not move until we order you to.’
It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except look into each other’s eyes. They did not even think of running for their lives or getting out of the house before it was too late. It was unthinkable to disobey the voice from the wall.
There was a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen to the floor. There was a telescreen behind it.
’ N o w they can see us,’ said Julia.
’ N o w we can see you,’ said the voice. ‘Stand in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Put your hands behind your heads.
Do not touch each other.’
‘I suppose we should say goodbye,’ said Julia.
’ Y o u should say goodbye,’ said the voice.
There was a crash as a ladder broke through the window.
Soldiers came in; more came crashing in through the door.
Winston did not move, not even his eyes. Only one thing mattered: don’t give them an excuse to hit you.
One of the soldiers hit Julia hard in the stomach. She fell to the floor, fighting to breathe. Then two of them picked her up and carried her out of the room, holding her by the knees and shoulders. Winston saw her face, yellow with pain, with her eyes tightly shut as they took her away from him.
He did not move. No one had hit him yet. He wondered if they had got Mr Charrington. He wanted to go to the toilet. The clock said nine, meaning twenty-one hours, but the light seemed too strong for evening. Was it really nine in the morning? Had he and Julia slept all that time?
Mr Charrington came into the room and Winston suddenly realized whose voice he had heard on the telescreen. Mr Charrington still had his old jacket on, but his hair, which had been almost white, was now black. His body was straighter and looked bigger. His face was the clear-thinking, cold face of a man of about thirty-five. Winston realized that for the first time in his life he was looking at a member of the Thought Police.
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