"If there was hope, it must lie in the proles."

23. The Proles

"If only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength."

If there was hope, it must lie in the proles because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. It's enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it? And yet--!

The great majority of Proles did not even have telescreens in their homes. Even the civil police interfered with them very little. There was a vast amount of criminality in London, a whole world-within-a-world of thieves, bandits, prostitutes, drug-peddlers, and racketeers of every description; but since it all happened among the Proles themselves, it was of no importance. In all questions of morals they were allowed to follow their ancestral code. The sexual Puritanism of the Party was not imposed upon them. Promiscuity went unpunished, divorce was permitted. For that matter, even religious worship would have been permitted if the proles had shown any sign of needing or wanting it. They were beneath suspicion. As the Party slogan put it:

"Proles and animals are free".

The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. Before the Revolution they had been hideously oppressed by the capitalists, they had been starved and flogged, women had been forced to work in the coal mines (women still did work in the coal mines, as a matter of fact), children had been sold into the factories at the age of six.

In reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary to know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous. No attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus in on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice. He wrote:

Until they become conscious they will never rebel,
and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

...He paused for a moment at the top of the steps. On the opposite side of the alley there was a dingy little pub whose windows appeared to be frosted over but in reality were merely coated with dust. A very old man, bent but active, with white moustaches that bristled forward like those of a prawn, pushed open the swing door and went in. As Winston stood watching, it occurred to him that the old man, who must be eighty at the least, had already been middle-aged when the Revolution happened. He and a few others like him were the last links that now existed with the vanished world of capitalism. In the Party itself there were not many people left whose ideas had been formed before the Revolution. The older generation had mostly been wiped out in the great purges of the fifties and sixties, and the few who survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual surrender. If there was any one still alive who could give you a truthful account of conditions in the early part of the century, it could only be a prole. Suddenly the passage from the history book that he had copied into his diary came back into Winston's mind, and a lunatic impulse took hold of him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance with that old man and question him. He would say to him: "Tell me about your life when you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better than they are now, or were they worse?"

Hurriedly, lest he should have time to become frightened, he descended the steps and crossed the narrow street. It was madness of course. As usual, there was no definite rule against talking to proles and frequenting their pubs, but it was far too unusual an action to pass unnoticed. If the patrols appeared he might plead an attack of faintness, but it was not likely that they would believe him. He pushed open the door, and a hideous cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face. As he entered the din of voices dropped to about half its volume. Behind his back he could feel everyone eyeing his blue overalls. A game of darts which was going on at the other end of the room interrupted itself for perhaps as much as thirty seconds. The old man whom he had followed into the pub was standing at the bar, having some kind of altercation with the barman, a large, stout, hook-nosed young man with enormous forearms. A knot of others, standing round with glasses in their hands, were watching the scene.

"I arst you civil enough, didn't I?" said the old man, straightening his shoulders pugnaciously. "You telling me you ain't got a pint mug in the 'ole bleeding boozer?"

"And what in hell's name is a pint?" said the barman, leaning forward with the tips of his fingers on the counter.

"'Ark at 'im! Calls 'isself a barman and don't know what a pint is! Why, a pint's the 'alf of a quart, and there's four quarts to the gallon. 'Ave to teach you the A, B, C next."

"Never heard of 'em,' said the barman shortly. 'Litre and half litres - that's all we serve. There's the glasses on the shelf in front of you."

"I likes a pint," persisted the old man. "You could 'a drawed me off a pint easy enough. We didn't 'ave these bleeding litres when I was a young man."

"When you were a young man we were all living in the tree-tops," said the barman, with a glance at the other customers.

There was a shout of laughter, and the uneasiness caused by Winston's entry seemed to disappear. The old man's white-stubbed face had flushed pink. He turned away, muttering to himself, and bumped into Winston. Winston caught him gently by the arm.

"May I offer you a drink?" he said.

"You're a gent," said the other, straightening his shoulders again. He appeared not to have noticed Winston's blue overalls. "Pint!" he added aggressively to the barman. "Pint of wallop.'"

The barman swished two half-litres of dark-brown beer into thick glasses which he had rinsed in a bucket under the counter. Beer was the only drink you could get in prole pubs. The proles were supposed not to drink gin, though in practice they could get hold of it easily enough. The game of darts was in full swing again, and the knot of men at the bar had begun talking about lottery tickets. Winston's presence was forgotten for a moment. There was a deal table under the window where he and the old man could talk without fear of being overheard. It was horribly dangerous, but at any rate there was no telescreen in the room, a point he had made sure of as soon as he came in.

"'E could 'drawed me off a pint," grumbled the old man as he settled down behind a glass. "A 'alf litre ain't enough. It don't satisfy. And a 'ole litre's too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price."

"You must have seen great changes since you were a young man," said Winston tentatively.

The old man's pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents, as though it were in the bar-room that he expected the changes to have occurred.

"The beer was better," he said finally. "And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer -- wallop we used to call it -- was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course."

"Which war was that?" said Winston.

"It's all wars," said the old man vaguely. He took up his glass, and his shoulders straightened again. "'Ere's wishing you the very best of 'ealth!"

In his lean throat the sharp-pointed Adam's apple made a surprisingly rapid up-and-down movement, and the beer vanished. Winston went to the bar and came back with two more half-litres. The old man appeared to have forgotten his prejudice against drinking a full litre.

"You are very much older than I am," said Winston. "You must have been a grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution. People of my age don't really know anything about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that....

A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man's memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day without getting any real information....

Winston sat back against the window-sill. It was no use going on. He was about to buy some more beer when the old man suddenly got up and shuffled rapidly into the stinking urinal at the side of the room. The extra half-litre was already working on him. Winston sat for a minute or two gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet carried him out into the street again.

Prisons offer needles to inmates (to inject illegal heroin). National Post, Nov 11, 2005. Go to 22.Doublethink (mental condition: controlled insanity)


HOPE LIES IN THE PROLES ("If there was hope, it lies in the proles" in answer to reader's question). Go to WHY ORWELL WROTE 1984

CRACK KITS HIT STREET (hundreds handed out in Vancouver - ok'd by mayor, police & health authorities; contain glass crack pipe & mouthpiece-push stick-draw screens-matches-alcohol swabs-Vaseline-bandages-a condom & smoking instructions). The Province, Nov 1, 2004. Go to 35.Brotherhood & DRUG WAR & PEACE & EVIL PURVEYORS FEEDING OFF MISERY

BEYOND ARMCHAIR ANALYSIS (has Orwell inspired political activism?). June 25, 2004

ORWELL'S PROLES (if only they could become conscious of their own strength). Apr 28, 2004. Go to 5.Pyramidal NWO

ENGINEERED FAMINE IN ZIMBABWE (never food shortages in 120-years & plight not reaching media). Telegraph, Apr 18, 2004. Go to 9.Keeping Masses Down & TAKE NOT OUR DAILY BREAD & FOOD CONTROL & 16.Minitrue & SOVIET UNION FAMINE EXPOSURE

SLOT MACHINE PICKPOCKETS (gov't to get $10-million tax/year engaging in mass pickpocketing of people gambling $100-million). Vancouver Province, Jan 25, 2004. Go to 24.The Lottery and 35.The Brotherhood & CANADA HAVANADA SIMSANADA

Watch your tiny surveillance camera! view kids playroom (from work!) view store/office (from home!) view dogs in yard (from work!) see if boss's car in lot (from home!) view kitchen-is dinner ready? (from work!). Pop Up Ad, Jan 24, 2004. Go to 3.Surveillance & 20.Thought Police & BEYOND ORWELL

Blood on Sims virtual carpet (kicked out of on-line town for publicising tawdry activities of real-life teenagers creating despotic gov't using Mafia to run prostitutes-porno-drugs-booze-gambling & hellhole of crime). Independent, Jan 16, 2004. Go to 25.Prolefeed & 35.The Brotherhood

Sexing up cellphone ads (camera phones being promoted for taking sneaky dirty pictures). Globe & Mail, Dec 18, 2003. Go to CAMERA PHONE PIG ADS & BEYOND ORWELL

Cops no-show at live sex act (obsenity laws blatantly broken for 3 consecutive nights). Globe & Mail, Jun 29, 2003. Go to 25.Prolefeed & 30.Love Instinct & Family & Baywatch babe voice of "Striperella" (Super-Agent 69). Reuters, Jun 29, 2003. Go to Toronto America's Gay Pride capital & CANADA'S DEBAUCHERY

Afghanistan world's biggest heroin dealer (poppies springing up everywhere in midst of Western armies). Independent, Jun 22, 2003. Go to 35.The Brotherhood & OPIUM WARS WITHIN

Mugabe ratchets up the terror (he'll be confronted head-on). TorontoStar, May 25, 2003. Go to 9.Keeping Masses Down

Injection sites cost millions (planners want $56-million/year for 1,000 drop-ins/day). Vancouver Sun, May 5, 2003. Go to 35.The Brotherhood & FEEDING OFF MISERY

Oz whore-house sells shares (lured "mom & dad" investors with promoter Madam Fleiss). Reuters, May 2, 2003. Go to 35.Brotherhood

Bouncer killed over smoking ban (introduced by ex-smoker mayor). BBC, Apr 14, 2003. Go to 22.Doublethink & DRUG WAR & PEACE

Afghanistan retakes heroin crown (1,685 acres now 30,750 acres; 185 tonnes now 4,000+ tonnes). BBC, Mar 4, 2003. Go to 35.The Brotherhood & DRUG WAR AND PEACE

Sex survey in schools (assuming parents' responsibilities & parents are letting them). WashTimes, Jan 23, 2003. Go to 25.Prolefeed & 30.Love Instinct & Family

Heroin a HEALTH problem, not criminal (gov't should CONTROL say pushers). Vancouver Sun, Jan 21, 2003. Go to & DRUG WAR & PEACE

Sex trade thrives in China (communist gov't runs 5-star hotels catering to foreigners & military). Wash Post, Jan 4, 2003. Go to 10.The Rulers

UK man arrested for protest over baby-eating show from China. Reuters, Jan 4, 2003. Go to 22.Doublethink & 7.Systems of Thought

Heroin deaths rise dramatically (pure & cheaper than six-pack - snorted & smoked by middle-class). Boston Globe, Dec 19, 2002. Go to IN AFGHAN FIELDS POPPIES GROW

Students taught to snort cocaine (2 parents out of 540 complain). National Post, Dec 14, 2002. Go to DRUG WAR & PEACE

Gov't forcing drugs on addicts (cuts funding to abstinence programs). Vancouver Prov, Nov 10, 2002. Go to DRUG WAR & PEACE

EU gives convicts hardcore porn (right of expression & information). Aussie Age, Nov 11, 2002. EU Council outlaws net speech (some ideas & theories are 'hate'). Wired News, Nov 11, 2002. Go to 22.Doublethink

Ecstasy pills are deadly (have nine dangerous chemicals). National Post, Oct 27, 2002. Go to DRUG WAR & PEACE

Public sex in state parks (gay teachers-execs-posties in act). Washington Times, Sep 24, 2002

Addicts shoot up crack & heroin (openly sold in front of cops). National Post, Sep 19, 2002. Go to DRUG WAR & PEACE

Not naked if wearing shoes (gov't drops obscenity charges). National Post, Sep 19, 2002. Go to 30.Love Instinct & GAY SEX IN KINSEY REPORT

Anti-Drug ads entice drug use (kids who use will be "terrorists"). Fox News, May 15, 2002. Go to TERRORIST means DISSIDENT

"Don't be afraid to dream, you the ordinary folk, the miners, steel workers and impoverished farmers, workers in all the industries ruined by Globalization." France's 'thunderbolt' candidate, Le Pen. Yahoo! Reuters. Apr 22, 2002

Americans indifferent to increased surveillance (shrug their shoulders about being spied on). Wired, Mar 11, 2002

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com