Thoughtcrime is a subtle and many-faceted concept. I am surprised that only the actual crime aspect of it has been noted here.

In order to understand thoughtcrime a few points about newspeak must be noted. First, newspeak as a language is narrowing the range of thought by cutting down the number of words available to describe things and not introducing unnecessary concepts. For example, 'bad' is replaced by 'ungood'. Also, the purpose of this narrowing of the range of thought is for the control of the people in Oceania. By not providing the words necessary to describe unacceptable concepts, the Party plans to limit the range of thought to only those things that are 'good'. Good means 'in the interests of the Party', basically, and has strong connotations of 'orthodox'. Thus, 'ungood' really means 'unorthodox'.

As can be seen, simple translations of newspeak do not suffice for an examination of its meaning. I think that's where the confusion here is - many people think of newspeak as a kind of grammar for English. It's not. It's a complete other language in which the words have different loadings and connotations to what they have to us today. Thoughtcrime is not just any crime committed in your thoughts (btw, boytext, it's newspeak that is the thought control device not thoughtcrime itself). We can't think of 'crime' in this sense as being the crime we have today, the breaking of laws. There are no laws in 1984. Thoughtcrime, if you will, basically means 'unorthodox thought', or 'independent thought'. It thus serves the purpose of ensuring that there is no positively connotated word for independent thought in newspeak. People who thus think counter to the orthodoxy are thoughtcriminals, not 'free thinkers' (no such word as free in the final version of newspeak), and it is in this way that you should apply the word (unless, as Shanoyu has done, you're drawing comparisons). They feel guilty purely because of the concepts attached to the act they perform, rather than the act itself. This is a powerful deterrrent to free thought.

I have a thing or two to say about this. It's doubleplusungood (yeah, I know, I'm applying current meaning to newspeak words). Thoughtcrime is not a crime. Thinking of it as such is precisely what the word was created to ensure. When summer comes I'm getting the following design printed in black on a white t-shirt:


Thoughtcrime, in the newspeak sense, is nothing to be ashamed of. I reject the rule of the Party. Down with Big Brother.

I often catch myself thinking something that I would never want anyone else to hear me say aloud, and immediately drowning that thought. Sometimes I play music in my head, sometimes I focus on a happy little tree. Whatever course of action I take, I avert my thoughts from their traitorous path and focus on something more "wholesome".

Imagine a typical teenage male, admiring another male's clothing -- he would probably avert his thoughts as well as his eyes. Anyone who is beginning to enjoy any peculiar fetish, such as furries or small children (or anything else society at large sees as perversion), will at first try to turn their thoughts away and focus on something else, anything else. A housewife considering killing her children in order to follow her husband's wishes will discard the thought instead of taking a knife upstairs.

Of course, I think that this behavior is normal. Not many people would admit it, hell, not many people would recognize that they did it until you told them. It's a defense mechanism that stops people from doing things that they know society would find repulsive. People who don't have this mechanism become social outcasts. (Either that or they're impossibly moral, ethical, naive, and altruistic, but I digress.)

There would be no reason for this mechanism if not for social conditioning, but this is inevitable. Thus, Orwell's speculation that your thoughts are not safe is made much scarier by the fact that one's thoughts are not safe, even from oneself. The thought police can be thought of as a metaphor for the self - especially since any good citizen of the Party will turn himself in, and utterly submit to the collective mind of the Party.

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