The Party seeks to control everything – past, present, and future. Its first effort toward attaining that goal is to control and manipulate every source of information, rewriting and modifying the content of all historical records and other documentary evidence for its own gain. The Party forbids its members to keep written records of their lives, and mandates that any photographs or documents be destroyed through "memory holes" placed throughout Oceania. Since memory is unreliable, over time, reality becomes fuzzy at best, and citizens are soon willing to believe whatever the Party informs them. Thus, the Party manipulates the past in order to control the present.
Questions About Manipulation
- Manipulation and control sure seem to be the main concerns of the Party here, huh? How evil is that? But is the Party inherently evil for its goals, or is it the way in which it accomplishes those goals that is the problem?
- Legally speaking, toiling with records and evidence is called "spoliation" and is punishable as perjury and contempt. Too bad there’s no government around to enforce this kind of law. But this brings up an interesting question: What do you make of the fact that the government of Oceania seems to have no one to answer to? Do "laws" and "rules" lose their meaning in 1984? What about "justice?"
- Why does the Party force its members to expunge all documents and photographs?
Chew on This
Although the Party seeks to control everything by manipulating every source of information, ultimately it is unable to achieve that goal because that manipulation is overpowered by the unalterable nature of its people’s collective memory.
Winston Smith is the only character that can escape the effects of the Party’s manipulation and control of information. Yet 1984 fails to explain his distinctive qualities as justification for his different nature.