War is Peace refers to to the fact that while a country is at war, it can get away with murder on the home front, on the pretext of "rooting out traitors." A good example of this is the Espionage Act passed by Congress and signed by Woodrow Wilson in 1917, which had little to do with spies, and a lot to do with allowing the feds to round up anyone who criticized the Government's actions during a war. (Fun trivia fact: Since the United States has officially been in a state of emergency since the Korean War, the Act is still in force).

Freedom is Slavery means that you are supposed to treat your supposedly natural rights as privileges that you need to constantly earn. For instance, in the United States, convicted felons are not allowed to vote, even after they have been released from jail.

Ignorance is Power means that as long as you believe what you are told, the state has the power to justify whatever it wants. Example: in 1998, Clinton ordered tomahawk missles to be fired at a Sudanese Pharmaceutical plant. His rationale was that it was being used to construct bio-weapons. Six months later, the government quietly admitted that it had no conclusive evidence of this.

The rationalizations made by IngSoc in "1984" were different than what bitter_engineer believes them to be.

War is Peace: You have to understand that in the novel "1984", there were three major powers of the world. Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. At all times, two of the three powers were allied against the third. This resulted in a state of perpetual war, and though it allowed for a state that rounded up "dissenters", that was not the main reason for perpetual war. The reason war was a constant was that war had become peace.

In the past, every war had been fought for political gain or new resources. In a world of three dictatorships, each with enough resources to sustain themselves indefinitely, there was no longer any need to wage a real war with real consequences. What was needed was a way to throw away resources and gain small victories which could be touted to the public as grand changes for the better. The resources were being thrown away so the people would have a constant need for a government, even one that was repressing them. Thus, by fighting this grand war on their borders, they were actually guaranting peace within those borders.

All the wars in "1984" were actually small affairs, involving less then 1% of the nations resources, and even less men. In fact, the three nations had already realized the only winning move was to completely surround an enemy nation and nuke it out of existence in one grand move, something that could no longer be achieved.

Freedom is Slavery: The argument behind "Freedom is Slavery" is a simple one. How can one man build a bridge, a skyscraper, or anything large on their own? The simple answer is that one alone cannot build these things without help. Thus the individual is powerless, and individual freedom weakens the individual by making it impossible to do anything grand. Therefore, to do anything grand, a person must join up with others and suppress their own will and personal freedoms. Otherwise, they achieve nothing, and destroy any attempt to achieve anything by doing so. The only true freedom a person has is the freedom to submit to a larger group and to influence that group by helping it. Therefore, freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is Power: In the world of "1984", to be called "black-white" was both a compliment and an insult. As a compliment, it meant that one could see everything black as being white if and when it was necessary and vice-versa. As an insult, it meant that a person was so stupid as to see something that was clearly black, as white. In effect, it was good to be ignorant of the facts, and bad to be ignorant of the current political spectrum. Ignorance had become powerful, whether it existed in you or your enemies, it could be used by for your own gain. Ignorance is Power.

These three phrases seem to ring true in many different ways. Aside from the connections made above, the phrases could also be seen as a cruel in-joke on the government's part.

Although they bombard the stricken masses into belief, to no-one are the phrases truer than for the government itself.

War is Peace: When a nation is at war, with the whole population geared behind war effort, as in 1984, who is more at peace in their position than the leaders of the country. If the leaders have acted cleverly enough they will have directed their population's anger towards 'the enemy'. It is therefore less likely that a disgruntled citizen is going to attempt to overthrow the government than if it were a time of peace, and the disgruntled citizen had no-one to blame but the nation's leaders. So, to the leaders, War Is Peace

Freedom is Slavery: When the population of a nation is enslaved into serving their government, the only ones with freedom are the leaders of that government. First of all, if properly enslaved, the population is too busy serving the government to stop them doing anything, and secondly, the leaders don't have any work to do, leaving them free to do as they please.

Ignorance is Strength: If the population does not know that anything more can exist, or that they are being lied to, or that change is possible, they aren't going to care. If a government can manage to keep it's population so ignorant that they do not question what they are told, no weaknesses within what the government says will ever be found.

In summary, when is a body so strong as to be free to do as it pleases in peace than when it's minions are ignorantly enslaved into war

War is Peace:

  • By creating a perpetual war, and one that cannot be won, the party has, in effect, created peace within Oceania. If the entire population stands behind a war then they will do nothing to weaken the country, especially if the balance of power is constantly shifting. Any weakening of the party would give enemy nation a chance to play against this weakness, and thus, puts the entire country at risk.
  • As long as there is no accumulated wealth there can be no uprising. And war, even better, war without end, is the easiest way to consume wealth and resources. Thus, the easiest way to have peace is to have a continuing war instead of constantly struggling against those who oppose what problems are inherent in peace.
  • Although the Party attempts to advance technologically, the only real advances they make are in war efforts. Again, there is no struggle from those who oppose peace, because life remains, in all aspects, war active.
  • Therefore, the war that shifts enemies, but remains active will keep the peace of a nation. This, ironically enough, is a stronger peace than any other Utopian ideal, because there can never be any strong resistance within the nation for fear of creating a weakness that the enemy could exploit and then overthrow.


Freedom is Slavery:

  • When people have the freedom to do, and even think, what they want, the potential to oppose the government exists. And if one opposes the government they create a state of fear for the population, because strong opposition (and thus, revolution) leads to bloodshed. (The only bloodless revolution is one where the government steps down and those with power rarely just give it up.) So, by allowing freedom, the party would be allowing the rebels to enslave others to their fear (If the party allows such liberties as personal freedom, they run the risk of having others enslave people by abusing these personal freedoms).
  • Freedom is what drives the arts. And from art comes the strongest form of rebellion of all: creativity. Thoughts of “better” times. Stifle freedom and you stifle all desire to change.
  • The only logical step for the Party, then, is to remove the freedoms and take control away from the people.
  • It is important to note that there is a great chaos in allowing people to live free. By allowing a choice in what one wants to do, they allow for inefficiency. Just because one wants to do something, does not mean they will be the most skilled at that task. Thus, freedom is inefficient.


Ignorance is Strength:

  • The only way to keep an idea strong is to remove all suspicion of doubt. If one has no reason to question a belief, then that belief will remain. And if this lack of questioning can become indefinite, then the belief is also indefinite. Keeping people ignorant prevents doubt and creates a powerful strength in the idea.
  • It is the same idea that caused witch-hunts in centuries past. By manipulating people’s ignorance of medicine-women, one could easily claim that they used dark arts. The lack of knowledge about how these healers worked caused mass inquisitions. The group was strong in their ideals because they knew nothing of how the “witches” worked.
  • Big Brother can, through the control of history, make themselves seem akin to God. Winston himself, at the end, admits, “God is power”. The power to alter history and make it seem as if you had predicted everything is the power to declare oneself God. Or even better, to have others view you as God without being prodded to.

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