Ingsoc, a Newspeak abbreviation of English Socialism, (referred to by it's non-adherents as Oligarchical Collectivism) refers primarily to the totalitarian ideology of the government of Oceania, which at it's peak controlled the two American continents, Great Britain and Ireland (then collectively called Airstrip One), Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the southern half of Africa below the River Congo.
Although both ascribed to the administration of Oceania it should be noted that there is a considerable difference between the Party's purported ideology of Ingsoc and the ideology of Oligarchical Collectivism prevalant among the Inner Party. Through the mechanism of doublethink party members and Ingsoc adherents are capable of embracing some of the political propositions of English Socialism whilst also embracing the fundamentally hierarchical political vision of Oligarchical Collectivism. Believing, for example, that democracy is impossible while also believing that the Party is the protector of democracy.
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The theory of Oligarchical Collectivism is largely explained in the book of former party member Emmanuel Goldstein, under the title The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. As a political theory Oligarchical Collectivism holds that all societies have been divided into a caste system. The three groups being: The High, who are the rulers; the Middle, who yearn to take over the position of the High; and the Low, who are typically so suppressed that in their drudgery they have no goals beyond day-to-day survival.
Oligarchical Collectivist theory holds that the Middle has overthrown the High repeatedly by enlisting the Low on their side, pretending to the Low that after the revolution a just society will emerge. However, once the Middle have taken over, they simply become the new High and thrust the Low back into servitude, and as a new Middle group eventually splits off, the pattern repeats.
Oligarchical Collectivism seeks to freeze history once the Middle has once again overthrown the High and become the new High themselves: This would be the last revolution ever; the new High would stay in power indefinitely by a conscious strategy.
Terminology[edit | edit source]
- See also: Newspeak
The name Ingsoc is a Newspeak word. Newspeak, which was the official language of Oceania, was constructed in order to abbreviate words, hence, English Socialism was made into the shorter "Ingsoc" by combining the first two syllables.
Historical background[edit | edit source]
Social upheaval during the mid 20th century led to an atmosphere of civil unrest which eventually culminated in a civil war and revolution led by numerous political ideologues, the most famous of whom were Jones, Aaronson, Rutherford and controversially Big Brother. Although it is possible that other relevant political figures existed the government of Oceania's policy of censoring and destroying politically incorrect material has effectively expunged them from the historical record.
During the mid 1960's, a period referred to as "the great purges", all of the original leaders of the revolution were wiped out. In 1965 Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford were arrested and withheld for a year or more when they were brought forward and confessed to a number of crimes including intelligence sharing with the then enemy state of Eurasia, embezzlement of public funds, the murder of various Party members, intrigues against the leadership of Big Brother which had allegedly started long before the revolution and acts of sabotage which apparently resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Following their confession all three were pardoned and offered sinecure positions within the Party. Articles written by Aaronson, Rutherford and Jones appeared in the Times in which they analysed the reasons for their defection. By 1970 none of the original revolutionaries were left, except for Big Brother himself. 
Ideology[edit | edit source]
The theory of Oligarchical Collectivism as described by Emmanuel Goldstein purports that throughout recorded time, and possibly since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world; the High, the Middle and the Low. Though they have been subdivided in many ways, and their numbers and attitudes towards one another have changed over time the essential structure of society has never altered, according the Oligarchical Collectivism.
Adherents of Oligarchical Collectivism assert that there is an observable pattern in human history. The three aforementioned groups or classes are in a constant struggle, each with irreconcilable aims. The High, who are the rulers, wish to remain the rulers; the Middle, yearn to take over the position of the High; and the Low, who are typically so suppressed that in their drudgery they have no goals beyond day-to-day survival (if they are at all able to formulate any political agenda, it is to establish a society where all people are equal).
The Middle have repeatedly overthrown the High by enlisting the Low on their side, pretending to the Low that after the revolution a just society will emerge. However, once the Middle have taken over, they simply become the new High and thrust the Low back into servitude, and as a new Middle group eventually splits off, the pattern repeats. Goldstein insists that "no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters."
During the late nineteenth century schools of thinkers and observers emerged to whom this repeated pattern of revolution and re-institution became obvious. These thinkers interpreted history as a cyclical process who claimed to prove that human inequality was an unalterable law of human society.
Socialism[edit | edit source]
Large groups of Middle class Oligarchical Collectivists were drawn toward socialist groups. Goldstein claims that it was typical of the Middle to perform revolutions under the banner of freedom and equality, but that from the 1900's onwards a large amount of Socialist organisations began to more and more reject the concepts of freedom and equality, on the basis that such concepts were either impractical or unattainable and served only to perpetuate the perceived cyclical process of history. At this time crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of human rights became common, with many individuals who considered themselves enlightened and progressive tolerating their occurrence, according to Goldstein.
These new groups, which began to emerge in the middle of the century, continued largely to "pay lip-service" (Goldstein's words) to the original ideologies of the groups from which they stemmed (Socialism in Oceania and Bolshevism in Eurasia).
The real plan of these organizations, however, was to arrest progress at a chosen moment. "The familiar pendulum swing was to happen once more, and then stop."
The people who aspired to become this new ruling class are described as bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organisers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians, with their origins in the "salaried middle class" and the upper grades of the working class.
In the 20th century, technological developments had for the first time made an absolutely totalitarian society possible. Electronic gadgets like two-way television (the "telescreens") allowed the authorities to keep citizens under constant surveillance and in the equally constant sound of official propaganda. "The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time." After the revolutionary period of the fifties and the sixties, society inevitably regrouped itself into High, Middle, and Low, and the emerging High group used the new technology and other strategies to safeguard its position permanently.
The new High group, the Inner Party, enjoyed and guarded their privileges as a collective group, not as a mass of individuals. Old-style Socialists failed to perceive that when the Party took over, property was actually concentrated in far fewer hands than had been the case under capitalism. They thought that since there were not now any individual owners, the expropriated property had become public property so that Socialism had in fact been established. In reality, economic inequality had been made permanent, for the sole concern of the Party was to maintain its own power — not to distribute wealth to all citizens.
Oligarchical Collectivists, Goldstein insists, reject and vilify every principle for which the socialist movement originally stood and choose to do so in the name of socialism.
Hierarchy[edit | edit source]
The development of machine production at the beginning of the 20th century meant that human equality had become technically possible. It was still considered necessary for human beings to work different occupations, however in this period there was no longer any need for class distinctions as individual wealth varied little.
Oligarchical Collectivist groups, who were at this time gaining influence and on the verge of seizing power, perceived the potential for human equality as a danger to be averted. By the 1940s all main currents of political thought were authoritarian, most of them discrediting egalitarian beliefs. Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation.
With the use of machine production the living standards of the average human being were raised very greatly. It was "clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared...hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations".
Since large-scale machine production could not be eliminated once invented, the Oligarchical Collectivist Ingsoc Party sought to destroy the machine's produce before they could alleviate the masses of physical discomfort, drudgery or struggle which could entail their intellectual advancement.
Goldstein alleges that a state of permanent warfare was dileberately manufactured by the Party. He states that the act of warfare "is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population... It is a deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another."
Eternal war[edit | edit source]
Moreover, the state of war creates a mentality that suits the ends of Oligarchical Collectivists, who predominated the Ingsoc Party of Oceania. A Party member should be "a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war."
Though warfare was conducted by Ingsoc for reasons of control, even Inner Party members, who potentially could know better than, believed passionately that the war was real and that it would "end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world".
Research into new weapons therefore continued — but using doublethink, Inner Party administrators were also in some sense aware that the war must never be allowed to end. Any large scale invasion of enemy territory that could result in citizens of one superstate coming face to face with the citizens of another was to be avoided, as the affects it could have would have been disastrous for the Party. Those citizens that had come into contact with those of another superstate would quickly realize that the conditions of each state were largely similar, they may even recognize that the prevailing ideologies are almost identical.
To maintain the image of the enemy as a monster whose ideology is a barbarous outrage on common sense, all sides realized that "the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except bombs!"
References and notes[edit | edit source]
- Page 78, Chapter VII: "It must have been in 1965 that these three men had been arrested. As often happened, they vanished for a year or more ..."
- Page 78, Chapter VII: "By 1970 none of them was left, except for Big Brother himself."