How would 1984 work? Or: Practical Eastasia. (SPOILERS)

I assume we’ve all read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I happen to own a copy, in fact. (I also have a copy of Animal Farm. Both proud old paperbacks with gaudy full-color covers and very soft, smooth paper.) If you have not, I’d suggest it. I would not suggest reading any further in this thread until you have.

All right, then? All right.

In the novel, there are three superstates that apparently all work the same way. They all manage to maintain a complex three-tiered bureaucracy without extensive records (all of them are destroyed as the politics shifts), without monitoring the largest segment of their population, and even though they give even the relatively declasse of their Inner Party members substantial freedoms.

Their economies are permanently on a war footing, yet no technologies are created and no industries are altered. In fact, the main role of war is the destruction of materiel, yet there are no shortages not created by the Inner Party. In fact, the politics among the three hyperstates is so stable as to be imperturbable. Apparently, they’ve not only killed Adam Smith, but they’ve systematically murdered every single Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Pol Pot, George Washington, and Temujin: Nobody with any political acumen, or thirst for political power, or sheer bloody-minded will to success can disturb the three-legged stool.

Yet the system isn’t a hidebound, ossified mess, either. Its Thought Police is spectacularly efficient. It contains enough Behavioral Science know-how to make Quantico butter its collective drawers, giving it an ESP-like knowledge of what every minor Outer Party functionary is scrawling outside of the view of every viewscreen. The Thought Police also contains enough sadists to make the SS look like the Vienna Boy’s Choir, yet can control them absolutely. And not just asocial losers, either: Winston’s tormentor obvious emphathized with him, yet used that empathy to increase the brutality of the torture. And yet, for all that, it’s apparently never tried to take over.

Maybe I’m misreading the whole novel. I hope someone here can discuss this piece of literature with me, in any case. But while I think the warnings it contains are apposite to any time and any place, it should be viewed as one thing and one thing only: An allegory of man’s inhumanity to man.

Actually, we really have no way of knowing about the political structures of the other two states. I prefer to read 1984 as a story of a Media Controlled society. The Media controls everything, so the people only know what the Ministry of truth tells them. If you are using the book Winston and Julia read as your idea of the reality of the world that Winston lives in, you can’t take that at face value either, because it was written by the Thought Police.

I never believed the other nation-states existed; I always thought they were myths, perpetuated by the Ministry of Truth, to keep the nation in a perpetual state of war and provide a pretext for the Powers That Be to commit whatever atrocities they wished.

Babbington, rjung, that may be true. But once you begin to ascribe more and more power to the single hyperstate Winston lives under, you run into the question of how it all holds together.

Imagine this: Within the Thought Police, there is a group that is set up by the Innermost Party (something Winston never saw, but which we can easily assume to exist) to monitor the TP and make sure the amazingly effective apparatus never turns on its master. These Monitors, however, are people, too, and people with ambitions. They rose through the extremely tough ranks of the TP to become the only people the average Thought Policeman fears, and they want to control Oceania. They know, better than anyone, the powers of the TP and they know how it works.

So they control the TP via the Innermost Party by doctoring the reports they send up. They can give their patronage to an internal rebellion simply by not reporting its actions as long as it serves the Montors’ goals. Once it `goes off the rails’, they make a name for themselves by turning it in. If it doesn’t go off the rails, however, they can use it like a knife to eviscerate the Innermost Party and lead the Thought Police, the only fully-developed part of the whole INGSOC structure, to a revolution. Either way, they stay safe. Either way, they win.

Unlikely? Well, not really. The Nazi regime barely lasted twelve years, and there were multiple plots against Hitler’s life planned out by members of the Nazi’s own Innermost Party. Had one of them succeeded, the German war machine would have collapsed and the war in Europe would have been over. Stalin, on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain, was himself the beneficiary of a minor coup that managed to shuttle everyone but himself away from Lenin’s side at the crucial moments. China’s history is riddled with palace intrigue and people rising to power in unorthodox ways. It would be impossible for it not to happen, and ludicrous for it not to succeed at least once.

Of course, we must also think of the SNAFU Principle. Basically, it states that everyone along the line is looking out for his own promotion, and that that is achieved by kissing the ass of the one above you. That leads to the leadership never getting any bad news, and the people who do the work routinely being killed (or, well, fired) when things finally crash. To see the practical effects of this, one need look no farther than Stalin’s mindless purges, which lead to the Red Army being whipped by the Finns in 1940 solely due to piss-poor leadership, which was in turn solely due to Stalin’s purges.

So, you have a choice: Either the Thought Police is as effective as the book says it is, and is a major threat to the government of INGSOC, or it is incompetent enough to be governed effectively by INGSOC’s Inner Party, and therefore unable to quell rebellions in the Outer Party or among the Proles.

Orwell was basically cribbing from what he saw during WW II and the years afterwards (the Soviet Union was our ally and then our enemy). He never lived to see the fall of the Soviet Union (can you imagine telling folks at the height of the Cold War that the Soviet Union would collapse without NATO ever firing a shot at them?) or any of the other modern developments which occured. (There’s a joke which was popular in the Soviet Union right before it fell apart that went, “What happens when Communists take over a desert?” Answer: “For 70 years nothing happens, and then suddenly one day, there’s no sand any more.”)

We’re dealing with the events of a couple of people’s lives over a few short months in one year, and I think that even Orwell would agree that even a corrupt state will fall due to it’s own rotteness eventually. That’s why the government of Oceania was working so hard at things like artificial insemination, anti-sex, and other things. It knew that sooner or later if it didn’t find a way to erase many of humanity’s basic instincts that it too would fall.

I’m not sure I understand the question. Are you asking why the Party wasn’t vulnerable to a threat from within, given that certain weapons were of necessity not always in the hands of those at the top?

O’Brien didn’t rebel against the Party because he bought into the philosophy of Ingsoc; but even if he hadn’t, he’d have been detected and eliminated as efficiently as any other thought criminal before his discontent could have led anywhere.

Revolutions and counter-revolutions can be symbolized by individuals (such as the martyrs the Party was so careful not to create) but they can’t be accomplished by them. Resistance requires both communication and organization, and the means of those were securely in the hands of the Party.

When the government is aware of your heretical tendencies before you yourself are, and wipes you out before you can possibly threaten them, there is no nucleus around which a viable resistance movement can be formed.

Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that he stated a ruling class could lose power from within by (a) failing to rule effectively or (b) allowing a discontented middle class to come into being or © being infected by liberal ideas (all of which were present in the former Soviet Union to a greater or lesser degree), No in the sense that Ingsoc was designed from the ground up to be invulnerable to all three of those.

That leaves the possibility of being conquered from without, and if that risk could be eliminated, nothing could prevent a ruling class from remaining in power forever.

Ok, my comments:

On the contrary, there are extremely extensive records, the processing of which takes up a substantial portion of the Ministries’ work. It’s just that they’re continually altered (except maybe for an archive of real history available only to the Inner Party).

**The whole point is that the “proles” are so debased that they are very unlikely to ever revolt (Orwell’s intellectual scorn for the lower classes shows here). The novel does concede that "The most gifted of them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought Police and elmininated.

**Because they have proven that they are loyal to the system, they can be allowed some minor privileges.

**There is still substantial research done into weapons; but given that they already have nuclear weapons (which are counterproductive to use), and none of the three states’ survival is seriously threatened by their sparring, it isn’t a matter of ‘advance or die’.

**Presumably the war is tailored to create just the right amount of deprivation, with some minor fine tuning by creating temporary shortages.

**Again to quote from the novel:
“Between the two branches of the Party there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise”.

** Perhaps to a large extent, the Inner Party is the Thought Police. Certainly political orthodoxy is their prime concern. I don’t know what class the jackboot on the street is, but certainly all their officers would be Inner Party.

To my mind this is one of the novel’s weaker aspects. When Winston goes into a prole pub and tries to strike up a conversation with an old man to see what life was like before the Revolution, he gets an old man who cannot follow questions or remember where he started talking. Winston immediately gives up on the idea of finding anyone who can remember life before the revolution.

Even granting that the Party might kill off inconveniently witty folks, that’s an absurd leap of logic; you’d think Orwell had never spoken to an old person. Even if we accept that Winston can’t be sure it’s actually the year 1984, we know he himself can vaguely remember the revolution when he was a child, and he isn’t THAT old, so there would surely be a lot of fogies around who could tell stories of the heady pre-revolution days. That would throw off a key premise of the novel, though, so Orwell just sort of says in two pages, “Ah the hell with it, let’s just assume the proles are retarded.”

What in the novel supports the notion that there is substantial research being done into weapons?

Of course, the next paragraph seems to say that all that really is the mere suggestion of research:

Lumpy:

And, again, I don’t imagine for a second it could really work. The Party would need to be constantly walking a very fine balance between allowing people who are too individual to rise, simply because those are the people who can work the politics and make good decisions, and not allowing anyone with any sort of nous to exist, because they are the ones who will try anything to overthrow the system to advance their own careers.

If they lean too far to the latter, they end up with a totally ossified bureaucracy that cannot hunt down the Winstons and Julias in the Outer Party. If we lean too far to the former, they have people within the Inner Party actively helping the Winstons and Julias so they can form a nucleus of rebellion.

Even if you are willing to assume that most of the Thought Police is utterly loyal and utterly competent, no group of humans can be perfect. All it takes is one person to rise relatively far up the ladder and to aid those who are like-minded below him. Given the brittle nature of any authoritarian system, given the fact that those in power would be trusted completely by those below, it wouldn’t take much.

Ah, but that would play into my hands perfectly! :wink: If those in power also have the knowledge, they would pose an even greater danger than those who are higher-up who are not members of the Thought Police. Remember, the leaders would be too busy planning the next string of alliances and betrayals to advace their own careers to be able to keep close tabs on those who are supposed to be running the Thought Police. If the king’s advisors are conspiring against him, he is as helpless as a hallucinating man in a battlefield.

Koala Bear:

But what if the watchers are themselves getting heretical ideas? Who watches the watchers, and who watches those who watch the watchers? The palace coup is a constant threat, and the more the upper-middle-class knows about ways to break down someone’s resistence, the more the upper class has to fear from them. But since a purge of the Thought Police would be suicide, the upper class is itself under the boot of opression. A boot it itself shod and armed, no less.

In other words, the problem is how do you ensure that a system that is brutally ruthless isn’t in danger from individuals within it who are brutally ruthless?
Well I admit I’ve always wondered who was really in charge of Oceana. We know that Big Brother, if he ever was a real person ala’ Stalin, was by 1984 just a fictional symbol of Ingsoc. The idolization of a fictional or quasi-fictional person suggests that the Party had seen the danger of allowing a single person to command the entire system, if only because individuals grow old and die eventually. But someone has to be at the top of the pyramid; presumably the equivalent of a supreme council headed by a party chairman. And this would mean that the Party would be in danger of either these top people subverting the Party to their personal benefit, or that they might be overthrown in a coup by some frustrated wannabe’s further down the chain of command.

1984 doesn’t really give us much info about the internal machinations of the Inner Party. It simply posits that having found a perfect formula for perpetual power, that all Inner Party members are totally loyal because they would never endanger the stability of their rule! I concede that this is a very weak point of the novel.

Bear in mind that in 1949 Orwell had only the monolithic example of the Soviet Union under Stalin to go by. Western observers seemed to overlook the extent to which Stalin had subverted the entire Soviet Communist Party to his own personality cult. The cracks in the facade would not show up until after his death. Ironically, even though the post-Stalin USSR was less terrifyingly murderous for the average Russian, it’s government- an ogliarchic Politburo headed by a Premier- was probably closer to the system Orwell implied ruled the Inner Party.

Have you ever seen the British SF series Blake’s Seven? It depicted a scenerio something like the dilemma you mention. In it, there was a Federation which was crypto-totalitarian: carefully maintaining the facade of being a democracy while covertly running a police state. But one of it’s high officials, Servalan, couldn’t resist the temptation of a power grab when an opportunity came along.

The government spied on everyone, and everyone spied on each other. O’Brien had the privilege of turning off his telescreen, yet the conversation he had with Winston and Julia was still so faithfully recorded he was able to contradict Winston’s claim of moral superiority by playing back that part in which he pledged to throw battery acid in a child’s face.

But how could such a plot be hatched when the privacy necessary to formulate one had been abolished? Everybody was under surveillance all the time; the moment you communicated your intentions to another potential conspirator you’d both be busted.

I think the natual reaction to 1984 is a form of psychic suffocation, the feeling that your mind has been slipped into a straightjacket and it begins to thrash about trying to find an escape. You think “Oh, no way, they could never be that perfect in their despotism, it could never work, there’s got to be a chink in the armor they’ve overlooked someplace,” yet the more you thrash the tighter the straightjacket becomes.

You can read the book a dozen times and each time afterward you’ll be more convinced rather than less, albeit with a more subtle and refined sense of existential terror.

“If you have ever cherished any dreams of violent insurrection you must abandon them. There is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.”

KoalaBear: I used to feel that straitjacket, too, but it’s gone now. Why? No system can be that perfect. Ever. If INGSOC was a functional model, Stalinist Russia would never have collapsed and China would still be under the systems Mao created. If those governments, as restrictive as they were, collapsed due to internal rifts and politics, how the hell could INGSOC, something that’s screwed on a thousand times tighter, ever hope to survive?

If you’ve created a system full of church mice, who do you trust to become the cat? Who do you even trust to be a minor subcommander? Either the conditioning is perfect and you’ve created a group of perfect zombies, none of whom can rule, or you’ve left a cadre of well-trained humans around to run things, who will fight over whatever there’s left to fight over. No human system in the history of humanity has ever achieved stability as profound as INGSOC.

If everyone were really being watched, how the hell could you find enough people to do the watching? Even if you assume that the Proles were left to themselves and only watched sporadically, you still have to assume a significant fraction of everyone being maintained simply to watch everyone else. That means those people can do nothing else, not farm, not serve as foot soldiers in the military or Thought Police, not run the government, not even shuffle papers around. They must all be highly-trained psychologists (to detect any hint of dissent), and they must all be 100% perfect.

A bureaucratic system lives and dies on its paperwork. Without paperwork, nobody can hide behind their orders. If nobody can do that, all of the people who actually take initiative would be killed, as opposed to expendable scapegoats. If you’re constantly purging the effective, you’re bleeding your own government dry. Bloodletting is no way to run a government, as Stalin found out. (Well, not really. He was a psychotic murderer with delusions of persecution. He never learned anything, as evidenced by the so-called `Doctor’s Plot’. But those who came after him learned from his example.)

Nobody can be fully competent in more than one field. Especially in an INGSOC-like system. If you have a world of specialists and sub-specialists, as the division of Newspeak into vocabularies would suggest, you need to trust those who are specialized in a field you are not to do their jobs well. How can a low-level functionary be expected to detect a subtle misprogramming of all viewscreens coming out of a factory? How can a specialist be expected to work on his own job and monitor everyone else’s job at the same time?

If reading the novel is the equivalent to putting on a straitjacket, how the hell could anyone maintain sanity reading it? It might be acceptable if all of the Proles are constantly drunk to the point of stupidity and all of the Outer Party members are neurotics with bizarre, hallucinatory dreams, but how about the Inner Party? How can a government run by paranoid delusionals survive? Because that’s what INGSOC would create: A government full of paranoid delusionals who are so afraid of being knifed in the back they can’t think straight, and who take delight in back-stabbing everyone around them, regardless of their orthodoxy. Hell, being orthodox would be a death sentence: Everyone would be out to get you, for fear of you turning them in.

No, it wouldn’t work. It would collapse within a few years, probably long before its inventor had even died.

It’s more likely that the records available to the Inner Party reflect what those who serve the Inner Party believe that the Inner Party wants to hear.

This may be why we havn’t been able to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: Saddam may have believed that he had an extensive weapons program because he told his underlings that he wanted one, and none of them dared tell him that they weren’t able to do it.

On the contrary, Derleth, you’re in the straightjacket now: otherwise what would be the point of the discussion?

I don’t see the connection. Ingsoc only superficially resembles Marxism, and suffers none of its flaws.

Soviet Russia didn’t collapse because of quarrels among the ruling elite, it collapsed because it was forced to liberalize its institutions in order to compete with the West and ended up bankrupting its economy in the process. China has been more successful in its liberalization, but it was never an industrial power to begin with, nor did it have 16 subsidiary republics suckling at its teat.

Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia deliberately held themselves to the same level of economic and technological development in order to avoid precisely the kind of liberalizing influences that are reforming Russia and China. None of the superstates had the slightest intention of conquering one another, and were unable to do so in any case, so the continuous state of war between them served only to keep their factories humming.

Orwell stated that a ruling class was vulnerable from within if it:

(a) failed to govern effectively,
(b) allowed a strong and discontented middle class to come into being,
© was contaminated by liberal ideas.

All three of these were the reasons the Soviet Union eventually disintegrated, and why China is so careful to keep (a) and © in check while risking the emergence of (b). Ingsoc was protected from these weaknesses simultaneously by conscious intention, therefore it could never be vulnerable to collapse for the same reasons.

I’m afraid I don’t quite catch the metaphors.

Do you imagine intelligence is in any way a prerequisite for leadership? I offer the current President of the United States as prima facie evidence that it is not. And I’m not just using him for an easy slam – I’ve encountered so many vindictive, pampered, childish, petty, semi-literate people among the ranks of management that I’m convinced stupidity is an unwritten qualification for advancement.

That being said, once the system is established you no longer need anyone who is capable of making a decision because the system itself, the Party, becomes the ruler. In a society where “the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty,” those near the top of the pyramid will be highly motivated to maintain the status quo since the Party (and by extension themselves) own everything in Oceania.

That was one of the points of the book. Totalitarianism was a popular – and growing – political movement in the first half of the 20th century. Those regimes that failed had only done so because they lacked the courage to admit their true motivations. Orwell blew their cover by admitting it for them, and to make sure that people understood the gravity of the totalitarian world-view, he demonstrated how a hypothetical dystopian regime could seize and retain power indefinitely.

You’ve never been tattled on by anyone, or unwittingly busted yourself by leaving a telltale clue?

Whether the thought police plugged into everyone’s telescreen wire 24 hours a day, or purely at random, or never at all isn’t really important so long as anybody worth watching got the necessary attention. In Winston’s case, stopping by the junk store in the Prole quarter got him noticed, buying the diary got him observed, and plotting sedition got him arrested.

Hardly. Nosy neighbors are a beat cop’s best friends. But even in our own society, just examining somebody’s garbage can reveal tremendous amounts of detailed personal information about them: where they shop, what they buy, how they paid, what newspapers and magazines they read, and so forth. Your phone can be tapped (although if you use a cordless they needn’t bother), your credit information is routinely examined, traded and sold, every ATM you frequent snaps your photo and records it alongside your transaction data – you get the idea.

You’re being too literal in your intepretation. But again, even in our own society, you don’t think your library card would be flagged if you were to check out certain books? That cash transactions above a certain value aren’t reported to the government by your bank? That your employer can’t possibly hire enough people to monitor your phone calls?

There is no need to hide behind paperwork which is constantly being rewritten to purge it of documentary value in the first place.

That was the entire objective – to consume labor without producing anything of value in the process. They had to keep people employed in order to keep them too busy and exhausted to rebel, while simultaneously not producing enough shoelaces (or razor blades or saucepans) to go around.

I’m sure you don’t really think that’s a critical issue, do you? (It’s a pretty squirmy objection. Let’s see if we can loosen the straps.)

For the same reason they can solve a Rubik’s Cube without contracting leprosy. :slight_smile:

If you read the book several times you’ll come to the conclusion that the only way to escape the straightjacket is to never put it on in the first place, which I think is the lesson Orwell intended us to learn. At the time the book was written totalitarianism hadn’t yet taken root in the West but was being openly flirted with by Western intellectuals. Orwell warned us to be careful what we wish for because we just might get it.

D-O-U-B-L-E-T-H-I-N-K.

Precisely. “There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science… There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.”

I think the book saved us from its own future, to the extent that once the common man learned the true nature of totalitarianism it became impossible to establish such a system without people recognizing it for what it was and resisting it with all their might – and that coincidentally was the philosophical objective of the Cold War in the second half of the 20th century.

KoalaBear: A government run on doublethink would be unable to maintain touch with reality long enough to survive in the world. If you constantly need to recheck your own mind against the ideals of INGSOC that hour, as opposed to the heresies promulgated fifteen minutes ago which will be replaced by the perfect and unalterable (yet absolutely heretical and false) INGSOC of twelve minutes from now, you would be in a state of mental disarray matched only by the most disorganized psychotics of our own era.

If you can’t whistle while you’re pissing, how the hell can you balance two utterly correct and utterly heretical ideas in your head at once while actually doing something useful?

Oh, and as for my metaphors: A church mouse is quiet and inoffensive, or what everyone in an INGSOC system would have to become. A cat hunts the church mice who are not quiet and cautious enough, and kills them after toying with them. See any parallels yet?

As for surveillance, you’d still need trained people to sift through the data. Even taking statements and piecing together a coherent profile from the interviews of others can be a full-time job for someone who wants (or needs, upon pain of death) to do it well. People don’t become so observant `naturally’: They need a rather lengthy period of formal education (or informal, if they’re gifted), and the rise of a trained middle class (what the Thought Police would be) is always dangerous.

On a related note, I don’t think Orwell thought too highly of individual people. :wink: Everyone is portrayed as mean, petty, vindictive, and frightened. Everyone is more than willing to sell a friend down the river for a hope of a hope of a relaxation of the torture. I know that torture is effective, but all it would take in the real world is for a small knot of the Outer Party, shepherded by elements within the Thought Police, to organize regions within the decaying buildings (all of them pre-revolutionary and not that well designed from the INGSOC point of view) as strongholds. If anyone else got wise, the elements of the Thought Police would have them arrested and killed. (After all, didn’t they plan to rendezvous at a politically sensitive location that is not politically sensitive at all, that exists in a specific area that simply does not exist anywhere? Didn’t they plan to discuss heresies that no not, nor have ever, existed?)

Finally, as for the thrill of power. That’s all my plans need: Give the thrill of power to the Thought Police and watch them scheme and connive and backstab their way into revolution. Watch them grow from Hitler Youth into full-fledged power-mad dictators, each of them desiring his own world for his own and each of them perfectly capable of doing what it takes to make that happen.

I imagine that inner-party intrigues and assassinations and doublecrosses would be not a detriment to INGSOC, but an asset. Nobody in the inner party really wants to overthrow the govt.–they just want to be at the top of the heap.

So what if O’Brien, one week after the book ends, finds himself under Thought Police interrogation, and winds up with a bullet in the head? What does it matter to the rest of the Inner Party, to the members of the Outer Party, to the proles, to the TP enforcers, or to the other world govts. which particular inner party member is on the rise or the decline, so long as the status quo keeps humming along.

An endless array of coups and betrayals would simply be the way that people cycled through positions of power–much like we have elections and term limits.

Derleth: you forget one of the main lessons O’Brien teaches Winston: the inner party has created the phony revolution of Goldstein to attract would-be dissidents. Those people who might someday pose a threat to INGSOC are lured into the fake resistance movement. They never form a REAL resistance movement b/c they think one already exists.

toadspittle: You seem to think people are, at best, half-clever. Anyone high enough up to plan revolution would know that Goldstein was a hoax and that they must form a new group. Hell, O’Brien knew, and he’s never portrayed as especially high up. If O’Brien wanted to create a revolutionary group, he wouldn’t fall for the obvious ploy of aligning himself with Goldstein.

Secondly, they’d also know that the only way they’re going to achieve real power is to kill off INGSOC and establish their own system. Even Stalin knew that much, at least as it related to the Soviet system Lenin established. Someone who didn’t share Stalin’s obvious insanity would go for the next step and actually destroy INGSOC totally, knowing that if he could climb through the endless mazes of INGSOC bureaucracy, the next backstabber could, too.

But that all assumes that INGSOC is, at root, a stable system. There’s nothing in history to allow one to assume that. If you want to compare it to anything, Hitler’s Germany would probably be your best bet. Even if he didn’t fight with his neighbors (an essentially stupid war anyone with a basic understanding of strategy could have seen was unwinnable), his insanity would still have caused the government to implode. Look at the ideas he embraced: A master race of Nordic `Germans’; A hollow Earth he could travel inside; Absofreakinglutely massive guns and tanks that really have no practical purpose; The notion that Germany could hope to win a stand-up fight against the Red Army on the Soviets’ own turf in the wintertime.

And Hitler is remembered as a rather successful dictator, one who managed to quickly grab large sections of Europe out from under the noses of a civilized world that just wanted to keep sleeping. If that’s what passes for effective in totalitarian dictators, the only thing we have to fear are underequipped soldiers trying to fight a `lighning war’ in subzero temperatures without functional aircraft or tanks. The war was awful while it lasted, and you’ll never hear a sane man suggest otherwise, but it proved that totalitarianism can be outcompeted by democracy in the long run. Oh, and that totalitarian dictators are crazy as fucking loons and shouldn’t be trusted to run an Orange Julius.

toadspittle: You seem to think people are, at best, half-clever. Anyone high enough up to plan revolution would know that Goldstein was a hoax and that they must form a new group. Hell, O’Brien knew, and he’s never portrayed as especially high up. If O’Brien wanted to create a revolutionary group, he wouldn’t fall for the obvious ploy of aligning himself with Goldstein.

Secondly, they’d also know that the only way they’re going to achieve real power is to kill off INGSOC and establish their own system. Even Stalin knew that much, at least as it related to the Soviet system Lenin established. Someone who didn’t share Stalin’s obvious insanity would go for the next step and actually destroy INGSOC totally, knowing that if he could climb through the endless mazes of INGSOC bureaucracy, the next backstabber could, too.

But that all assumes that INGSOC is, at root, a stable system. There’s nothing in history to allow one to assume that. If you want to compare it to anything, Hitler’s Germany would probably be your best bet. Even if he didn’t fight with his neighbors (an essentially stupid war anyone with a basic understanding of strategy could have seen was unwinnable), his insanity would still have caused the government to implode. Look at the ideas he embraced: A master race of Nordic `Germans’; A hollow Earth he could travel inside; Absofreakinglutely massive guns and tanks that really have no practical purpose; The notion that Germany could hope to win a stand-up fight against the Red Army on the Soviets’ own turf in the wintertime.

And Hitler is remembered as a rather successful dictator, one who managed to quickly grab large sections of Europe out from under the noses of a civilized world that just wanted to keep sleeping. If that’s what passes for effective in totalitarian dictators, the only thing we have to fear are underequipped soldiers trying to fight a `lighning war’ in subzero temperatures without functional aircraft or tanks. The war was awful while it lasted, and you’ll never hear a sane man suggest otherwise, but it proved that totalitarianism can be outcompeted by democracy in the long run. Oh, and that totalitarian dictators are crazy as fucking loons and shouldn’t be trusted to run an Orange Julius.