To Orwell Today,

Hi Jackie,

My favourite theory of Orwell's is the doublethink theory. The examples in the book are blatant and designed to make a mockery of the idea that one thing can be a complete oxymoron of itself. War is NOT peace, I know that. However, his concept is very tricky when trying to apply to your own set of values and if you look deep enough, although I would hate to consider myself a doublethinker, there is one notion in today's society which I think rings particularly true.

The notion of doublethink in today's society comes down to the important term of FAIRNESS. When asking the average person the definition of fairness, it is immediately synonymous with equality (a fair fight = an even fight, your fair share is your evenly distributed portion). The term 'fair' is a positive term that reflects protection from cheating, lying, cruelty (you do not deserve that, it's not fair).

What is interesting about the term fairness is that it also refers to a level of complete inequality. That is, it is only fair that I have more than you because of who I am and what I have done. It is fair that I have more food because I am bigger. It is fair that I got the job because I went to university and you did not. These examples of fairness are virtually unchallenged within today's 'free thinking' society, because they relate to relative fairness: more to some and less to others is fair.


Ask the average person, does fair mean equal? They will agree with you. Ask the average person, is it fair that a woman with 1 child receives equal child support as a woman with 4? They will disagree with you.

Ask the average person, is it fair that you earn more money than your sister who is 10 years younger than you and does not have a university degree? They will agree with you.

Ask the average person, is it fair that a woman can not earn as much as a man? They will disagree with you.

At some point, the relative attribute that allows you to have more than someone else (fairly) will be challenged and your supremacy on the topic will no longer be fair. What's more, you will be told that it was never fair that you received more or less because of it. Once upon a time, it was fair for white people to be entitled to more than black people simply because of who they were. Once white stopped being an attribute of authority, it was no longer fair that this could take place. Rather, it was actually unfair and had always been unfair (yet another example of Orwell's clever reference to changing the past to suit the values of the present.) Should you ask someone from the 1920s if it was fair that a black man give up his seat on the bus for a white man, they would inevitably say 'Yes, that is fair. The black man should stand.' But these people no longer exist and if they do, keep quiet or are denounced for their racist notions. Just as the people of before Orwell's Revolution no longer exist and if they do, can't remember what was good or bad, right or wrong.

As a member of this doublethinking society, I have grown up and been taught to accept both notions of fairness despite knowing that they stand for opposing principles. Not only that, even upon discussing the topic, I can accept that both notions of fairness exist alongside one another despite being in complete opposition. And this is an example of how doublethink works within individuals, regardless of their manner or extent of their education or willingness to think openly. Especially when open thinking may just involve the acceptance of racism, murder, rape or other such unfair notions. Can what is learnt be unlearnt? If so, do you want to unlearn or is ignorance really strength?

Big time 1984 (and Orwell) fan,

Greetings Amy,

JFK is famous for once saying, "Who said life was fair?".

I think that sums up the reality of the situation, ie that life ISN'T fair. And that's coming from a person who did everything humanly possible to make it as fair as it could be on his watch, and I guess that's all any of us can do.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

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