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In one combination or another, these three super-states are permanently at war, and have been so for the past twenty-five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference. (2.9.22, Goldstein’s Manifesto)
Oceania is permanently at war with the other superstates. Such war is not necessary – except in the sense of keeping the warring states’ constituents in check. Oceania uses war to control its constituents.
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. (2.9.25, Goldstein’s Manifesto)
War is a necessary tool for the Party because it keeps the standard of living in check, maintaining the inequalities essential to a totalitarian state.
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor […]. The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival. (2.9.28, Goldstein’s Manifesto)
War is a necessary tool for the Party because it keeps the people peaceful, such that rebellion is far from their minds.