To Orwell Today,

For a philosophy project, I have to write a thesis essay on why "the individual is the greatest threat to the Party." I cant find any more sources to help me out, do you have any opinions on this subject? It would be greatly appreciated.

Katelynn Dunwoody

Greetings Katelynn,

People who stand out as original thinkers (otherwise known as "individuals") are always a threat to oppressive governments (the Party) because of their ability to inspire masses of people (the proles) to themselves become thinkers. By the time the world of 1984 has rolled around the powers-that-be (the Inner Party) who run One World Government (Big Brother) have figured out that the only way to stay on top of the pyramid - and not get overthrown by the lower levels - is to make sure no thinking person is allowed to thrive and spread the products of his thinking (otherwise known as thoughts) to others, who will in turn spread their thoughts to others and so on and so on and so on. That's why, to the Party, "thinking" is a very big crime (thoughtcrime) and the police (thought police) and the rest of society (crimestoppers) are trained to watch individuals with total surveillance looking for signs of thinking.

5.Pyramidal New World Order and 10.The Rulers and 8.Classes of People and 35.The Brotherhood and 27.Goodthink and 1.The Diary and 20.Thought Police and 3.Surveillance and 21.Crimestop and 28.Reality Control and 17.Falsification of the Past

The Party had learned that previous totalitarian regimes throughout history had been overthrown because they allowed individuals to emerge and become leaders who, even after they had been executed or otherwise killed, became heroes and martyrs whose ideas lived on in the memories of their followers.

So the rulers of 1984 did not repeat these past mistakes. They followed the advice of Emmanuel Goldstein (Big Brother's originator) who set down a policy ("the book") that said all individuals are to be turned into brain-dead idiots worshipping Big Brother before they are killed so that they won't have good ideas to be remembered by.

O'Brien explains all this to Winston while torturing him in the Minstry of Love:

2.Big Brother and 41.The Party Tells 'How' and 42.The Party Tells 'Why'

Winston kept hoping they'd kill him instead of torturing him and he attempted to pretend that he no longer had a thinking brain. But they caught him speaking intelligently in his sleep and so took him to Room 101 to use their most powerful weapon against him.

43. Winiston Talks in Sleep and 44.Room 101

After that, Winston was no longer exhibiting any signs of having a thinking brain and so they let him go back into the society of Airstrip One (London).

45.Chestnut Tree Cafe

I hope my explanation and your reading or re-reading of the themes quoted above will help you in your understanding as to why the individual - in other words a person who thinks - is a threat to the Party and must be destroyed if the Party is to survive. Remember, the Party's motto is "ignorance is strength" which means OUR ignorance is THEIR strength.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

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