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Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. (1.7.4)
At reaching a metaphysical paradox, Winston has arrived at a conclusion he does not wish to believe: the proles will never gain the consciousness required for them to effectively rebel.
Thought 2: For the proles, consciousness is as necessary for rebellion as the latter is for consciousness. This paradox is the proles’ futile plight.
It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you – something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable…what then? (1.7.27)
Deathly afraid of the Party’s proposition that there exists no external reality independent of the mind, Winston feels despair – not because of the doctrine itself, but because he may be subject to the truth of that doctrine.
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth's centre. With the feeling that he was speaking to O'Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom […] (1.7.29-30)
Winston believes fiercely in the correctness of his position on there being an external, mind-independent reality; however, he cannot help but wonder whether the Party is right in asserting that the contrary is true.