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Heavy is the Cost: 1984’s Second Third (Plus a Piece of the Final Third) Feraco SFHP and Myth/Sci-Fi 27 February 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Heavy is the Cost: 1984’s Second Third (Plus a Piece of the Final Third) Feraco SFHP and Myth/Sci-Fi 27 February 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Heavy is the Cost: 1984’s Second Third (Plus a Piece of the Final Third) Feraco SFHP and Myth/Sci-Fi 27 February 2012

2 In Orwell’s universe, it’s important to recognize that nothing comes for free. In Orwell’s universe, it’s important to recognize that nothing comes for free. There’s a cost to believing. There’s a cost to believing. There’s a cost to loving. There’s a cost to loving. And there’s a cost to living.

3 Each of these costs ties, in some way, to Orwell’s examination of power and its related issues. Each of these costs ties, in some way, to Orwell’s examination of power and its related issues. Cost, after all, simply refers to our concept of exchange: you have something I want, so I give you something for it. The first question is: who, in that scenario, has power?

4 There are two types of power, or “controls,” at the heart of There are two types of power, or “controls,” at the heart of The first is an external control – the sort of authority a parent wields over a child or a boss over an employee. The first is an external control – the sort of authority a parent wields over a child or a boss over an employee. This sort of power matters (for the wielder) because it allows him / her to: This sort of power matters (for the wielder) because it allows him / her to: protect himself / herself; protect his / her loved ones; if he / she chooses, it can allow him / her to protect his / her legacy – how he / she is perceived. if he / she chooses, it can allow him / her to protect his / her legacy – how he / she is perceived.

5 This is the sort of thing that matters a great deal to the Party: how it is perceived. This is the sort of thing that matters a great deal to the Party: how it is perceived. It has a pathological need to be seen as invulnerable, immortal, irresistible. A great deal of its power, in fact, stems from that perception: it can seem stronger than it is if nobody bothers challenging it.

6 But while the Party is chiefly concerned with its own self-perpetuation, and thusly its permanent hold on power, those controls also operate at an individual level in the novel. But while the Party is chiefly concerned with its own self-perpetuation, and thusly its permanent hold on power, those controls also operate at an individual level in the novel. In Goldstein’s book, one message is hammered home, over and over again: hierarchical society is unjust. In Goldstein’s book, one message is hammered home, over and over again: hierarchical society is unjust.

7 The idea of a hierarchical society can only succeed if one accepts the basic need for inequality. The idea of a hierarchical society can only succeed if one accepts the basic need for inequality. That is, after all, the point of a hierarchy: that some make out better than others. That is, after all, the point of a hierarchy: that some make out better than others. The most successful hierarchies, of course, are able to walk a careful balance: to arrange conditions for permanent inequality by clothing them in the trappings of equality or freedom.

8 This is what Orwell was getting at in Animal Farm, with its bitingly satirical “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This is what Orwell was getting at in Animal Farm, with its bitingly satirical “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” It’s much the same in Oceania. It’s much the same in Oceania. There’s a strict hierarchy in place – hence the divisions between the Inner Party (which gets the good stuff) and the Outer Party (which takes whatever it can) – and very little movement between the groups. There’s a strict hierarchy in place – hence the divisions between the Inner Party (which gets the good stuff) and the Outer Party (which takes whatever it can) – and very little movement between the groups.

9 The only way to get members of the Outer Party (who, unlike the proles, have received some semblance of a formal Party education) to accept their lot in life (and not, say, rebel against the smaller and more elite Inner Party) is to perpetually force them to accept their lesser status. The only way to get members of the Outer Party (who, unlike the proles, have received some semblance of a formal Party education) to accept their lot in life (and not, say, rebel against the smaller and more elite Inner Party) is to perpetually force them to accept their lesser status.

10 That’s why O’Brien can shut his telescreen off, and why Winston can’t. The monitoring devices don’t just keep everyone in line: they’re subconscious, inescapable reminders of one’s lower place in the social order. And Winston accepts this – or at least his peers do – because the only alternative they’re ever shown is prole life. Compared to that, Winston’s blessed.

11 And it’s interesting, then, that 1984 is the story of what happens when Winston begins resisting those external controls. And it’s interesting, then, that 1984 is the story of what happens when Winston begins resisting those external controls. At first – Part One – he resists alone. At first – Part One – he resists alone. But it’s in Part Two that we begin to see some particularly interesting social dynamics, because Winston incorporates others into his resistance. But it’s in Part Two that we begin to see some particularly interesting social dynamics, because Winston incorporates others into his resistance.

12 Before he can do this, however, Winston has to master i nternal control – the other source of power within the narrative. Before he can do this, however, Winston has to master i nternal control – the other source of power within the narrative. Essentially, this means he can be his own boss. Intellectually speaking, he controls the direction of his thoughts, independently reaches conclusions and makes choices, and feels secure with his own/collective identity. Intellectually speaking, he controls the direction of his thoughts, independently reaches conclusions and makes choices, and feels secure with his own/collective identity. (Obviously, Winston’s better at some of these aspects, while others elude him.)

13 From a physical standpoint, internal control allows Winston the f reedom to choose independent action for himself, establish a role for himself that he’s comfortable with, and provide for immediate security (a primary concern, particularly in a nation that’s at war). From a physical standpoint, internal control allows Winston the f reedom to choose independent action for himself, establish a role for himself that he’s comfortable with, and provide for immediate security (a primary concern, particularly in a nation that’s at war).

14 Obviously, the Party has very little use for its citizens’ internal controls: they’re a direct threat to its perpetual hold on security. Obviously, the Party has very little use for its citizens’ internal controls: they’re a direct threat to its perpetual hold on security. Thus it targets its external controls at the internal ones: it aims to control thought, speech, action, and environment. This is why it’s so important, in short, to reduce us to automatons: robots don’t care about free will. This is why it’s so important, in short, to reduce us to automatons: robots don’t care about free will.

15 The free will question – how should one pursue what one wants? – is at the heart of any society, much less The free will question – how should one pursue what one wants? – is at the heart of any society, much less It’s how we decide to make rules: as a collective body, we decide what people can and cannot seek and how they can or cannot seek it. It’s how we decide to make rules: as a collective body, we decide what people can and cannot seek and how they can or cannot seek it. And in 1984, the means by which Winston learns to pursue what he wants is key to understanding what Orwell’s arguing. And in 1984, the means by which Winston learns to pursue what he wants is key to understanding what Orwell’s arguing.

16 Before I go into greater detail, let’s pause and look at how people can pursue what they want. Before I go into greater detail, let’s pause and look at how people can pursue what they want. There’s the positive approach, and the negative approach: one involves a person pursuing what they want, whereas the other involves decision-making processes based on what one doesn’t want. There’s the positive approach, and the negative approach: one involves a person pursuing what they want, whereas the other involves decision-making processes based on what one doesn’t want.

17 The differences between the two approaches highlight the two ways people can sustain power – through either negative or positive consequences – and the vast differences between the approaches in terms of relationships and sustainability. The differences between the two approaches highlight the two ways people can sustain power – through either negative or positive consequences – and the vast differences between the approaches in terms of relationships and sustainability.

18 Negative-ConsequenceNegative-Consequence –Established in terms of what you don’t want to happen –This can be framed positively (“Protect”) or negatively (“Avoid”) –Grants influence and power to elements out of an individual’s control in order to provide motivation –Relationships based on fear, mutual harm, and deficiency

19 Positive-ConsequencePositive-Consequence –Established in terms of what you want to happen –This is difficult to frame negatively –Grants influence and power to elements that remain in an individual’s control in order to provide motivation –Relationships based on loyalty, respect, and consistency

20 Here’s a fascinating quirk: you only establish truly positive relationships when you have the luxury of survival. Here’s a fascinating quirk: you only establish truly positive relationships when you have the luxury of survival. If you aren’t “assured” of survival, virtually everything you’re doing is a buttress against a fate you’re trying to avoid (i.e., death). If you aren’t “assured” of survival, virtually everything you’re doing is a buttress against a fate you’re trying to avoid (i.e., death).

21 It’s the difference between tossing a cupcake to a starving man, who eats it without hesitation – without thought – because he instinctively avoids oblivion, and tossing one to someone who’s well-fed and therefore can make an intelligent decision regarding the cupcake. Do I want to eat the empty calories? Is too much sugar good for me? Should I give it back? It’s the difference between tossing a cupcake to a starving man, who eats it without hesitation – without thought – because he instinctively avoids oblivion, and tossing one to someone who’s well-fed and therefore can make an intelligent decision regarding the cupcake. Do I want to eat the empty calories? Is too much sugar good for me? Should I give it back? In this sense, the things our characters convince themselves they need tend to influence negative, powerless approaches to existence rather than positive, proactive ones; they stunt their own growth in order to simply survive. In this sense, the things our characters convince themselves they need tend to influence negative, powerless approaches to existence rather than positive, proactive ones; they stunt their own growth in order to simply survive.

22 If eating the cupcake is an example of a “negative-consequence decision” – things you choose to do to avoid a larger negative consequence (who cares about sugar?? I don’t want to starve!!) – you’ll find some relationships qualify as “negative- consequence relationships.” If eating the cupcake is an example of a “negative-consequence decision” – things you choose to do to avoid a larger negative consequence (who cares about sugar?? I don’t want to starve!!) – you’ll find some relationships qualify as “negative- consequence relationships.” Those relationships, which are based on mutual need rather than a desire to bond, tend to pop up more in the “macro” sphere – impersonal but necessary connections between nations, or between companies, or even between people who compete for leadership positions and have to be civil to one another in the process. Those relationships, which are based on mutual need rather than a desire to bond, tend to pop up more in the “macro” sphere – impersonal but necessary connections between nations, or between companies, or even between people who compete for leadership positions and have to be civil to one another in the process. Positive-consequence relationships tend to be the friendships one consciously pursues. Positive-consequence relationships tend to be the friendships one consciously pursues. The key, then, is to prevent your friendships from becoming negative ones – I hang out with Person X because it’s easy vs. I hang out with Person X because I don’t want to face the consequences of not being with them. The key, then, is to prevent your friendships from becoming negative ones – I hang out with Person X because it’s easy vs. I hang out with Person X because I don’t want to face the consequences of not being with them.

23 Winston, interestingly, seems to have hybrid relationships! Winston, interestingly, seems to have hybrid relationships! You can say that he’s loyal to Julia because he loves her, but he never states it. You can say that he’s loyal to Julia because he loves her, but he never states it. You can say that he “wants Julia to happen” because he desires her physically. You can say that he “wants Julia to happen” because he desires her physically. But it’s also easy to see how Winston treats Julia like the starving man treats the cupcake: she gives him a reason to live, implying that without her, he’d go back to the slightly suicidal pattern of behavior he’d established earlier in the book. But it’s also easy to see how Winston treats Julia like the starving man treats the cupcake: she gives him a reason to live, implying that without her, he’d go back to the slightly suicidal pattern of behavior he’d established earlier in the book. Does Winston keep spending time with Julia because he loves her, or because he can’t bear the thought of being alone again after he’s had a taste of “the good life” as it’s defined in Orwell’s universe – i.e., life as an actual human being? Does Winston keep spending time with Julia because he loves her, or because he can’t bear the thought of being alone again after he’s had a taste of “the good life” as it’s defined in Orwell’s universe – i.e., life as an actual human being?

24 The fact that we even consider this question is a testament to how badly the Party warps human beings. The fact that we even consider this question is a testament to how badly the Party warps human beings. As we mentioned earlier, the Party operates based on a series of negative consequences obsessively repurposed as positives – to the point that history must be changed to justify the lies the Party tells. As we mentioned earlier, the Party operates based on a series of negative consequences obsessively repurposed as positives – to the point that history must be changed to justify the lies the Party tells. (We’ll wonder about whether Orwell argues that positive- consequence or negative- consequence relationships last longer at the end of this section.) (We’ll wonder about whether Orwell argues that positive- consequence or negative- consequence relationships last longer at the end of this section.)

25 Orwell then goes on to make a comparison between approaches to maintaining power – since that seems to be the Party’s endgame, regardless of whether it’s a fundamentally positive or negative one – from different periods of human history. Orwell then goes on to make a comparison between approaches to maintaining power – since that seems to be the Party’s endgame, regardless of whether it’s a fundamentally positive or negative one – from different periods of human history. He compares Party rule to the Inquisition and what we call the Totalitarians. He compares Party rule to the Inquisition and what we call the Totalitarians.

26 Among other things, the Inquisition didn’t succeed because they created martyrs with their punishments. Among other things, the Inquisition didn’t succeed because they created martyrs with their punishments. They operated under a strict credo of “Thou shalt not” – which, if you’ve ever dealt with five-year-olds, only increases peoples’ desire to commit forbidden actions. They operated under a strict credo of “Thou shalt not” – which, if you’ve ever dealt with five-year-olds, only increases peoples’ desire to commit forbidden actions. They could not control peoples’ thoughts; they could not control peoples’ actions. They could not control peoples’ thoughts; they could not control peoples’ actions. And they fundamentally believed they were building a better world.

27 The Totalitarians, learning the lessons of the failed Inquisition, desperately sought to avoid creating martyrs (unless it served their purposes). The Totalitarians, learning the lessons of the failed Inquisition, desperately sought to avoid creating martyrs (unless it served their purposes). They operated under a strict credo of “Thou shalt” – more effective than “thou shalt not,” but still doomed. They operated under a strict credo of “Thou shalt” – more effective than “thou shalt not,” but still doomed. They could control peoples’ actions, but not their thoughts. They could control peoples’ actions, but not their thoughts. And they, too, fundamentally believed they were building a better world.

28 But the Party – the evolutionary Totalitarians – takes an even more efficient approach. But the Party – the evolutionary Totalitarians – takes an even more efficient approach. Like the Totalitarians, the Party seeks to avoid creating martyrs (unless it serves its purposes). Like the Totalitarians, the Party seeks to avoid creating martyrs (unless it serves its purposes). It operates under a strict credo of “Thou art” – irresistible. It operates under a strict credo of “Thou art” – irresistible. They aim to control peoples’ thoughts; people control their own actions. They aim to control peoples’ thoughts; people control their own actions. And, most terrifyingly, they make no pretenses about trying to build a better world: they’re trying to pull heaven down.

29 The Party’s behavior suggests a extremely cynical view of humanity – that while we profess to be positive and outwardly- focused beings, at our core we’re willing to surrender everything just to stay safe…or even just to survive. The Party’s behavior suggests a extremely cynical view of humanity – that while we profess to be positive and outwardly- focused beings, at our core we’re willing to surrender everything just to stay safe…or even just to survive. Moreover, we can’t bring ourselves to recognize this independently because we prefer to think of ourselves differently. Moreover, we can’t bring ourselves to recognize this independently because we prefer to think of ourselves differently.

30 Therefore, the Party frames things in language that expresses itself in terms of what we want to want – positive things – while reducing us to our basest desire (self-perpetuation, even in the negative abstract) and sparing nothing else. Therefore, the Party frames things in language that expresses itself in terms of what we want to want – positive things – while reducing us to our basest desire (self-perpetuation, even in the negative abstract) and sparing nothing else. It’s interesting that the desire for self-perpetuation – so powerfully independent – is nurtured and used to sustain the Party rather than eliminated. It’s interesting that the desire for self-perpetuation – so powerfully independent – is nurtured and used to sustain the Party rather than eliminated.

31 But this points back to a realization Winston reaches about the Party’s attitude towards the things it can’t kill. But this points back to a realization Winston reaches about the Party’s attitude towards the things it can’t kill. It can’t kill human sexuality – so it makes it toxic. It can’t kill human sexuality – so it makes it toxic. It can’t kill the desire for family life and family structure – so it subverts its original purpose and turns it against itself. It can’t kill the desire for family life and family structure – so it subverts its original purpose and turns it against itself. In this same fashion, it can’t kill the human desire to survive – so what does it do? In this same fashion, it can’t kill the human desire to survive – so what does it do? It reshapes it. It reshapes it.

32 O’Brien describes relationships between people and bodies (think the Brotherhood or the Party) in terms of cells and organs. O’Brien describes relationships between people and bodies (think the Brotherhood or the Party) in terms of cells and organs. This gets down to the foundation of individualism, for a cell doesn’t desire existence over the organ – and that attitude has to be conditioned into a human being. This gets down to the foundation of individualism, for a cell doesn’t desire existence over the organ – and that attitude has to be conditioned into a human being. If it can convince you that the Party is more important than the individual – that life is impermanent and the Party is immortal – then it wins, plain and simple. If it can convince you that the Party is more important than the individual – that life is impermanent and the Party is immortal – then it wins, plain and simple.

33 So the Party ends up removing the conscious desire for survival by shoving it into the unconscious / subconscious / instinctive part of the brain. So the Party ends up removing the conscious desire for survival by shoving it into the unconscious / subconscious / instinctive part of the brain. This means that, in essence, the Party can never kill it because it’s now out of reach. This means that, in essence, the Party can never kill it because it’s now out of reach. At the same time, the Party replaces the conscious desire for self-perpetuation in people like Parsons with the conscious desire for the Party’s self-perpetuation – and, thus repurposed, the survival instinct no longer needs to be destroyed. At the same time, the Party replaces the conscious desire for self-perpetuation in people like Parsons with the conscious desire for the Party’s self-perpetuation – and, thus repurposed, the survival instinct no longer needs to be destroyed.

34 Thus the Party praises sacrifice – sacrifice above all else. Thus the Party praises sacrifice – sacrifice above all else. You convince yourself a) that sacrifice is noble, b) that you’re making a sacrifice voluntarily for the good of the whole, and that c) this therefore confers individual nobility upon yourself. You convince yourself a) that sacrifice is noble, b) that you’re making a sacrifice voluntarily for the good of the whole, and that c) this therefore confers individual nobility upon yourself. In actuality, the Party has made you into a being whose every action somehow perpetuates the organ while starving the cell – repurposing the survival instinct to fuel itself rather than its population. In actuality, the Party has made you into a being whose every action somehow perpetuates the organ while starving the cell – repurposing the survival instinct to fuel itself rather than its population.

35 It’s not a flattering picture of humanity, and many people resist the idea that they’d react in the same way. It’s not a flattering picture of humanity, and many people resist the idea that they’d react in the same way. One wonders if these things Orwell writes about are really at the core of who we are – if the Party’s behavior is accurate – or if human beings are fundamentally better, or at least more complicated. One wonders if these things Orwell writes about are really at the core of who we are – if the Party’s behavior is accurate – or if human beings are fundamentally better, or at least more complicated.

36 For this, we have to look at what threatens the Party. For this, we have to look at what threatens the Party. If we jump ahead for a bit to Part Three, we see that compassion (care for a fellow human instead of an inhuman ruling body) seems to be a threat to them. If we jump ahead for a bit to Part Three, we see that compassion (care for a fellow human instead of an inhuman ruling body) seems to be a threat to them. Winston’s experiences in the Ministry of Love, both in the “waiting room” and in the torture chambers, reinforce this. Winston’s experiences in the Ministry of Love, both in the “waiting room” and in the torture chambers, reinforce this. But while love and sex are obvious threats (Julia explains why when she refers to “sex gone sour”), compassion is somewhat trickier. But while love and sex are obvious threats (Julia explains why when she refers to “sex gone sour”), compassion is somewhat trickier.

37 After all, more than anything else, compassion allows people to help each other. After all, more than anything else, compassion allows people to help each other. In theory, people helping other people keeps the workforce strong (you aren’t constantly having to replace people who fail alone). In theory, people helping other people keeps the workforce strong (you aren’t constantly having to replace people who fail alone). Why kill compassion if it helps perpetuate the workforce? Why kill compassion if it helps perpetuate the workforce? Perhaps the Party’s attitude reflects a belief that compassion is fundamentally ingrained in human beings, just as the aforementioned desires for love and sex are, and therefore is (on some level) an indestructible trait. Perhaps the Party’s attitude reflects a belief that compassion is fundamentally ingrained in human beings, just as the aforementioned desires for love and sex are, and therefore is (on some level) an indestructible trait. Fine, then. Just change what you can’t crush. That’s the Party’s modus operandi in every other circumstance. Fine, then. Just change what you can’t crush. That’s the Party’s modus operandi in every other circumstance. But whereas the other two can be twisted, perverted, and repurposed to serve the Party, how can you repurpose compassion as a negative? But whereas the other two can be twisted, perverted, and repurposed to serve the Party, how can you repurpose compassion as a negative?

38 The simple answer, of course, is that you can’t. The simple answer, of course, is that you can’t. No matter how hard you strive to make compassion a hallmark of physical or moral weakness, no matter how much time you dedicate to severing human connections and isolating them from each other, and no matter how much energy is channeled towards keeping a group of people constantly angry, hateful, and on edge, compassion cannot be eliminated from the vast majority of human psyches. And by its very nature – sympathy = alignment with another – it cannot be used for evil. So the Party can’t kill it, and the Party can’t change it. So the Party can’t kill it, and the Party can’t change it.

39 You understand, then, why the Party reverts to Inquisition-level tactics – Thou shalt not!!! – while dealing with Bumstead (the Fat Man) when he attempts to share food with the Skull-Faced Man. You understand, then, why the Party reverts to Inquisition-level tactics – Thou shalt not!!! – while dealing with Bumstead (the Fat Man) when he attempts to share food with the Skull-Faced Man. It’s an Achilles’ heel, a weak spot, a fly in the ointment, a glitch in the Matrix. It’s an Achilles’ heel, a weak spot, a fly in the ointment, a glitch in the Matrix. It’s something they don’t know how to deal with and can’t possibly fit into their worldview; it flies in the face of everything Oceanians teach and believe. It’s something they don’t know how to deal with and can’t possibly fit into their worldview; it flies in the face of everything Oceanians teach and believe. And it’s the secret reason why the proles need to be kept as stupid drones – because they can feel loyal to each other, and the Party lacks the power to kill that feeling on that large a scale. And it’s the secret reason why the proles need to be kept as stupid drones – because they can feel loyal to each other, and the Party lacks the power to kill that feeling on that large a scale. It can only use ignorance as a stop-gap measure, just as it uses hate and paranoia to control the instinct in Party members. It can only use ignorance as a stop-gap measure, just as it uses hate and paranoia to control the instinct in Party members. As long as the proles are willing to be stupid – it is easier in the short term – and the Outer Party members are willing to follow, the Inner Party is safe. As long as the proles are willing to be stupid – it is easier in the short term – and the Outer Party members are willing to follow, the Inner Party is safe.

40 Ironically, the thing that would inspire the proles to rise up is if they felt aggrieved – is if they realized the nature of what was being done to all of them, understood the injustice of the system they worked themselves to the bone to uphold, and reacted. Ironically, the thing that would inspire the proles to rise up is if they felt aggrieved – is if they realized the nature of what was being done to all of them, understood the injustice of the system they worked themselves to the bone to uphold, and reacted. As a result, the Party’s minimal interventions in the lives of the proles serve a dual purpose. As a result, the Party’s minimal interventions in the lives of the proles serve a dual purpose. The Thought Police identify and remove “dangerous” proles in a precise and surgical way, which allows the Party to avoid over-extending itself (relative to its resources) without making their influence felt. The Thought Police identify and remove “dangerous” proles in a precise and surgical way, which allows the Party to avoid over-extending itself (relative to its resources) without making their influence felt. Otherwise, they don’t seem to be a big part of the proles’ lives, and therefore avoid the anger and frustration that the commoners re-direct at each other. Otherwise, they don’t seem to be a big part of the proles’ lives, and therefore avoid the anger and frustration that the commoners re-direct at each other. The reason they shout over soup is that they perceive it – it’s real, it’s in front of them, it affects them in the here and now. The reason they shout over soup is that they perceive it – it’s real, it’s in front of them, it affects them in the here and now. The Party’s a distant abstraction, and when push comes to shove, you’ll concentrate more on the concrete and present than the absent and vague. The Party’s a distant abstraction, and when push comes to shove, you’ll concentrate more on the concrete and present than the absent and vague.

41 This pattern of Party behavior indicates that they share Winston’s view of the proles, even on some level that’s been double-thought into the unconscious realm. This pattern of Party behavior indicates that they share Winston’s view of the proles, even on some level that’s been double-thought into the unconscious realm. Ultimately, arguments about human beings as “fundamentally bad” run into the gray areas of instincts that run the gamut from base to noble. Ultimately, arguments about human beings as “fundamentally bad” run into the gray areas of instincts that run the gamut from base to noble. Yes, people may be greedy, or stupid, or hateful, or easily frightened…but they’re also usually selfless when their survival is assured, and capable of being so even when it isn’t. Yes, people may be greedy, or stupid, or hateful, or easily frightened…but they’re also usually selfless when their survival is assured, and capable of being so even when it isn’t. “Caring is a reflex. Someone slips, your arm goes out. A car is in the ditch, you join the others and push...You live, you help.” – Ram Dass “Caring is a reflex. Someone slips, your arm goes out. A car is in the ditch, you join the others and push...You live, you help.” – Ram Dass Even in the Ministry of Love – when humans are reduced to the lowest of the low – it takes a long time to break compassion; we see that prisoners even instinctively seek it in their captors. Even in the Ministry of Love – when humans are reduced to the lowest of the low – it takes a long time to break compassion; we see that prisoners even instinctively seek it in their captors. So perhaps we’re better than the Party gives us credit for – which is why it has to try to ruin us, change us into humans who aren’t human, in order to stay in power. So perhaps we’re better than the Party gives us credit for – which is why it has to try to ruin us, change us into humans who aren’t human, in order to stay in power.

42 The Party can’t fully ruin human beings – even if it can get at Winston and other deviant Outer Party folks – unless they’re complicit in their own ruination. The Party can’t fully ruin human beings – even if it can get at Winston and other deviant Outer Party folks – unless they’re complicit in their own ruination. At this point, the Party is unable to ascertain what a person thinks if that individual chooses to hide his/her thoughts. At this point, the Party is unable to ascertain what a person thinks if that individual chooses to hide his/her thoughts. So it forces its prisoners into a fundamentally awful choice – obliterate yourself as yourself (allow yourself to die a horrible death in Room 101), or survive as something unlike yourself. So it forces its prisoners into a fundamentally awful choice – obliterate yourself as yourself (allow yourself to die a horrible death in Room 101), or survive as something unlike yourself. Is it worthwhile for a man to keep breathing once he’s thoroughly compromised himself – once he’s sustaining a body instead of a soul? Is it worthwhile for a man to keep breathing once he’s thoroughly compromised himself – once he’s sustaining a body instead of a soul? (You’ll have to read Part Three to find out.) (You’ll have to read Part Three to find out.)

43 The Party’s good at identifying necessary conditions for survival – the ability to think and feel, access to sustenance, air, and water, and so on – and then stripping them away from people, one by one. The Party’s good at identifying necessary conditions for survival – the ability to think and feel, access to sustenance, air, and water, and so on – and then stripping them away from people, one by one. This isn’t just true in the Ministry of Love; it’s also true for any ordinary person living in, say, Airstrip One. This isn’t just true in the Ministry of Love; it’s also true for any ordinary person living in, say, Airstrip One. The air’s thick, gray, and poisonous; the food is barely food, and exists in short supply; thought and emotion have been thoroughly compromised. The air’s thick, gray, and poisonous; the food is barely food, and exists in short supply; thought and emotion have been thoroughly compromised. Anything you can think of that’s necessary for survival – friendship? Faith? Family? – has been corrupted. Anything you can think of that’s necessary for survival – friendship? Faith? Family? – has been corrupted.

44 And we’re not left with survival (meaningful existence), but survival (self-perpetuation of cells and organs). And we’re not left with survival (meaningful existence), but survival (self-perpetuation of cells and organs). We conduct our lives like the Party itself – consumed by the need to exist, with no real regard for anything else. We conduct our lives like the Party itself – consumed by the need to exist, with no real regard for anything else. At the same time, we don’t – because the Inner Party isn’t particularly concerned with which individuals (the metaphorical cells and organs). Unlike us, it can easily sacrifice a “lung.” All that matters is the perpetuation of the idea. All that matters is the perpetuation of the idea. And that’s the Party’s main advantage over its opposition: in the end, we fear death, and it can’t die. And that’s the Party’s main advantage over its opposition: in the end, we fear death, and it can’t die.

45 Ultimately, we’re confronted with our three concerns from the beginning – the costs of living, believing, and loving. Ultimately, we’re confronted with our three concerns from the beginning – the costs of living, believing, and loving. We see that they’re deeply interrelated, and that each of them comes back to issues of internal power vs. external controls (i.e., how much control you’re willing to surrender in order to get what you want). We see that they’re deeply interrelated, and that each of them comes back to issues of internal power vs. external controls (i.e., how much control you’re willing to surrender in order to get what you want).

46 The cost of loving – here – may be survival or control. The cost of loving – here – may be survival or control. –Are the benefits worth the sacrifice? The cost of believing – here – is control and philosophy. The cost of believing – here – is control and philosophy. –Are these the components of the human soul? The cost of living – here – is control and belief. The cost of living – here – is control and belief. –Again, are the benefits worth the sacrifice?

47 And perhaps there’s another condition for survival: memory. And perhaps there’s another condition for survival: memory. This a great fear for a great many people: we equate the loss of memory with the loss of self. This a great fear for a great many people: we equate the loss of memory with the loss of self. This is why Orwell keeps asking the following questions: This is why Orwell keeps asking the following questions: –Does the past exist? –Can we have anything without the power to think, learn, remember, and grow? –Is the freedom to think, then, the highest of all human freedoms? You must surrender those freedoms in order to survive in Oceania. It’s a truly evil bargain, and there’s not an easy choice at the end of it. You must surrender those freedoms in order to survive in Oceania. It’s a truly evil bargain, and there’s not an easy choice at the end of it. Either way…the cost is heavy, isn’t it? Either way…the cost is heavy, isn’t it?


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