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Ingsoc

From Academic Kids

Ingsoc (Newspeak for "English Socialism") is the ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania (The Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa) in George Orwell's dystopic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Ingsoc is also a political punk band from Warsaw, Indiana. Visit their site http://www.destroybigbrother.com for more information.

Ingsoc apparently came to dominance during a socialist revolution, but as The Party is constantly changing history it is difficult to tell precisely how it came about. Emmanuel Goldstein's book-within-the-book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism (see Goldstein's book) describes the actual ideology of the Party as "oligarchical collectivism", stating that Ingsoc "rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism".

Ingsoc is personified by Big Brother, an omnipresent Stalin-like figure constantly depicted on posters and the telescreen. Like Ingsoc itself, Big Brother is constantly watching. Ingsoc demands complete submission to it, and uses torture to achieve that end (Room 101). In fact, Ingsoc has mastered a complex system of psychological tools and methods to make people not only confess imagined crimes and forget any thoughts of rebellion, but to actually love Ingsoc itself.

Under Ingsoc, society is composed of three levels:

  1. The Inner Party that makes policy decisions and runs the government, which is referred to as simply The Party.
  2. The Outer Party that works in the state jobs and is the working class of the society. Members are allowed no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin. The Outer Party is also under the most scrutiny, being constantly monitored by two-way telescreens and other implements of surveillance.
  3. The Proles that are the lower class, the rabble the Inner Party keeps happy and sedate with beer, gambling, sports, casual sex and prolefeed ("rubbishy texts"). The proles are named for the proletariat, the term Marx used for the working class.

The classes do not mix much, although Winston, the narrator, describes an evening at the movies where proles and Party members are both in attendance. He is also able to patronize a prole pub without attracting much attention (or so he thinks) and to visit the flat of O'Brien, an Inner Party member, on a pretext of borrowing a special edition of a Newspeak dictionary.

What is left unexplained in the novel is how Ingsoc and its ruling cabal, the Inner Party, were able to establish and maintain control over Britain and its Commonwealth, Ireland, the United States, and Latin America in a historically short period (roughly 30 years based on the internal chronology of the novel). In light of the wide differences in language, culture, religion and history between these regions, this premise might be considered the most significant weakness in the plot. On the other hand, given the rapid spread of communism through the date of the novel's composition, it might well have seemed entirely plausible at the time.

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