Study Guide

1984 Power

By George Orwell

Power quotes found in 1984

Book 1, Chapter 1

The other person was a man named O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party and holder of some post so important and remote that Winston had only a dim idea of its nature. A momentary hush passed over the group of people round the chairs as they saw the black overalls of an Inner Party member approaching. O'Brien was a large, burly man with a thick neck and a coarse, humorous, brutal face. In spite of his formidable appearance he had a certain charm of manner. (1.1.24)

As is typical with all Party officials and operations, mystery is the key, and O'Brien is the epitome of an enigmatic authority figure.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer, though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing. (1.1.6)

Fear runs so deep in Winston that he fancies that, by turning his back on a telescreen, his rebellious spirit may be sniffed out.

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out "Swine! Swine! Swine!" and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. (1.1.29)

The Party's go-to tactic for maintaining power is to shift blame to a designated scapegoat, toward which all of its constituents' hatred and violence may be directed. Here we have the citizens letting it all out during the daily Two Minutes Hate-which is of course organized and overseen by the Party.

Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black mustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston's own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC. (1.1.4)

A totalitarian power seeks to exert influence over its constituents by conveying the message that it is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. Ubiquitously posting awe-inspiring posters is one such means to this end.

From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (1.1.7)

Another method by which a totalitarian power seeks to exert influence over its constituents is to place reminders of its slogans and doctrines everywhere.

People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, and your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word. (1.1.39)

The Party's way of dealing with subversive people is to make them disappear, and subsequently, to remove them from history altogether.

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. (1.1.25-26)

The Party's modus operandi in maintaining power is to shift blame to a designated scapegoat, toward which all of its constituents' hatred and violence may be directed. Their favorite scapegoat is up today: Emmanuel Goldstein.

Book 1, Chapter 2

Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grams to twenty. (1.2.31)

By keeping supply down and demand up on luxury goods, the Party is able to check and direct its constituents' desires and wants.

With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it. (1.2.25)

The Party seeks to maintain power by severing private loyalties, replacing them with loyalty to the party. With children, the success of the Party's plan is furthered in that the children serve as extra surveillance forces for the Party.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood. Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red neckerchiefs, which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy's demeanor, that it was not altogether a game.

"You're a traitor!" yelled the boy. "You're a thought-criminal! You're a Eurasian spy! I'll shoot you, I'll vaporize you, I'll send you to the salt mines!"

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting "Traitor!" and "Thought-criminal!" the little girl imitating her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gamboling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating ferocity in the boy's eye, a quite evident desire to hit or kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so. (1.2.15-17)

The Party holds their power by using children as extra surveillance forces for the Party. This younger sister is learning how to spy by following her brother's lead. We bet the Party was extra happy that they didn't have to train her themselves.

Book 2, Chapter 9

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns - after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces - at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally. (2.9.3)

The Party's modus operandi in maintaining power is to shift blame to a designated scapegoat, toward which all of its constituents' hatred and violence may be directed.

In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary. The child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party. Admission to either branch of the Party is by examination, taken at the age of sixteen. Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked domination of one province by another. Jews, N****es, South Americans of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party [...] Its rulers are not held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine [...] The Party is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does not aim at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if there were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the top, it would be perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new generation from the ranks of the proletariat. In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition [...] The essence of oligarchic rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but with perpetuating itself. (2.9.58, Goldstein's Manifesto)

The Party's view of loyalty is that for totalitarianism to thrive, there must not be private loyalties at all. Rather, insofar as Inner Party members are concerned with the perpetuation of the Party's rule, the only allowable loyalty is the loyalty to power itself.

The problem is the same for all three super-states. It is absolutely necessary to their structure that there should be no contact with foreigners, except, to a limited extent, with war prisoners and colored slaves. Even the official ally of the moment is always regarded with the darkest suspicion. War prisoners apart, the average citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to him and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate. (2.9.32, Goldstein's Manifesto)

The Party ensures undying loyalty to it by instilling - and indeed, creating - fear, hatred, and uncertainty against the world outside Oceania.

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 Oceania because it keeps the standard of living in check, such that the inequalities essential to a totalitarian state remain in place.

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.

In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for "Science." The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc. And even technological progress only happens when its products can in some way be used for the diminution of human liberty. (2.9.30).

The Party employs science and technology to curtail human freedom and privacy, and to control human behavior.

Book 3, Chapter 2
O'Brien

"We are not interested in those stupid crimes that you have committed. The Party is not interested in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them. Do you understand what I mean by that?" (3.2.99, O'Brien)

The Party ultimately vaporizes captured rebels, but not before converting and re-indoctrinating them.

Book 3, Chapter 3
O'Brien

"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought, which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are mat work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother." (3.3.34, O'Brien)

The world that the Party aspires to create is a world unlike any that has existed before: fear and torment shall replace love and happiness; destruction shall trump advancement; loyalty to the party will be the only acceptable loyalty; families and the sexual instinct shall be eradicated.

"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." (3.3.34, O'Brien)

The Party is chiefly concerned with attaining and maintaining the type of power that depends on triumph over resistance.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were- cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" (3.3.14, O'Brien)

The Party will not repeat historical mistakes; indeed, rather than seeking power as a means to something else, its quest for power is for power's own sake.

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