If you want a picture of the future,
imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever.

42. Big Brother Tells 'Why'

"There are three stages in your reintegration," said O'Brien. "There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance. It is time for you to enter upon the second stage."

As always, Winston was lying flat on his back. But of late his bonds were looser. They still held him to the bed, but he could move his knees a little and could turn his head from side to side and raise his arms from the elbow. The dial, also, had grown to be less of a terror. He could evade its pangs if he was quick-witted enough: it was chiefly when he showed stupidity that O'Brien pulled the lever. Sometimes they got through a whole session without use of the dial. He could not remember how many sessions there had been. The whole process seemed to stretch out over a long, indefinite time - weeks, possibly - and the intervals between the sessions might sometimes have been days, sometimes only an hour or two.

"As you lie there," said O'Brien, "you have often wondered - you have even asked me - why the Ministry of Love should expend so much time and trouble on you. And when you were free you were puzzled by what was essentially the same question. You could grasp the mechanics of the Society you lived in, but not its underlying motives. Do you remember writing in your diary "I understand how: I do not understand why? "It was when you thought about "why" that you doubted your own sanity. The proletarians will never revolt, not in a thousand years or a million. They cannot. There is no way in which the Party can ever be overthrown. The rule of the Party is forever. Make that the starting point of your thoughts. He came closer to the bed.

"For ever!" he repeated. "And now let us get back to the question of 'how' and 'why'. You understand well enough how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak," he added as Winston remained silent.

Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad glean of enthusiasm had come back into O'Brien's face. He knew in advance what O'Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind happiness was better. That the Party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others.

The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O'Brien said this he would believe it. You could see it in his face. O'Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

"You are ruling over us for our own good," he said feebly. "You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore--"

He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O'Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.

"That was stupid, Winston, stupid!" he said. "You should know better than to say a thing like that." He pulled the lever back and continued: "Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me? You are thinking," O'Brien said, "that my face is old and tired. You are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails? We are the priests of power," he said. "God is power. But at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual.

You know the Party slogan: 'Freedom is Slavery'. Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone - free - the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body, but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter - external reality, as you would call it - is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute. We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation - anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.

"But you do not!" Winston burst out, making a violent effort to raise himself into a sitting position. "You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet."

"Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we do not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world."

"But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny - helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited."

"Nonsense, the earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing."

Winston said nothing and shrank back upon the bed. Winston knew, he knew that the belief that nothing exists outside one's own mind was false and could be exposed as a fallacy and could be demonstrated as false.

O'Brien said: "The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day is not power over things, but over men. How does one man assert power over another, Winston?"

"By making him suffer," Winston said.

"Exactly, by making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own. Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. The kind of world we are creating is a world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy - everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their parents at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an animal formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of BIG BROTHER. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

He paused as though he expected Winston to speak. Winston had tried to shrink back into the surface of the bed again. He could not say anything. His heart seemed to be frozen. O'Brien went on:

"And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again. Everything that you have undergone since you have been in our hands - all that will continue, and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests, the tortures, the executions, the disappearances will never cease. It will be a world of terror as much as a world of triumph. The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism. Goldstein and his heresies will live for ever. Every day, at every moment, they will be defeated, discredited, ridiculed, spat upon - and yet they will always survive. This drama that I have played out with you during seven years will be played out over and over again generation after generation, always in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible - and in the end utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own accord. That is the world that we are preparing, Winston. A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, become part of it."

Winston had recovered himself sufficiently to speak.

"You can't!" he said weakly.

"What do you mean by that remark, Winston?"

"You could not create such a world as you have just described. It is a dream. It is impossible."

"Why?" said O'Brien.

"It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit suicide." said Winston.

"Nonsense. Can you not understand that the death of the individual is not death? The Party is immortal."

As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness. Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement O'Brien would twist the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent. Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of what O'Brien had said, he returned to the attack:

"I don't know - I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you."

"We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the Party. The others are outside - irrelevant."

"I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they will see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces."

"Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any reason why it should?"

"No. I believe it. I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe - I don't know, some spirit, some principle - that you will never overcome."

"Do you believe in God, Winston?"


"Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?"

"I don't know. The spirit of Man."

"And do you consider yourself a man?"


"If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent."

His manner changed and he said more harshly:

"And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies and our cruelty?"

"Yes, I consider myself superior."

O'Brien did not speak.

"Get up from that bed." he said.

The bonds had loosened themselves. Winston lowered himself to the floor and stood up unsteadily.

"You are the last man," said O'Brien. "You are the guardian of the human spirit. You shall see yourself as your are. Take off your clothes."

Winston undid the bit of string that held his overalls together. As he slid them to the ground he saw that there was a three-sided mirror at the far end of the room. He approached it, then stopped short. An involuntary cry had broken out of him.

"Go on," said O'Brien. "Stand between the wings of the mirror. You shall see the side view as well."

Winston had stopped because he was frightened. A bowed, grey-coloured, skeleton-like thing was coming towards him. Its actual appearance was frightening, and not merely the fact that he knew it to be himself. He moved closer to the glass. The creature's face seemed to be protruded, because of its bent carriage. A forlorn, jail bird's face with a nobby forehead running back into a bald scalp, a crooked nose, and battered-looking cheekbones above which the eyes were fierce and watchful. The cheeks were seamed, the mouth had a drawn-in look. Certainly it was his own face, but it seemed to him that it had changed more than he had changed inside. He had gone partially bald. Except for his hands and a circle of his face, his body was grey all over with ancient, ingrained dirt. Here and there under the dirt there were red scars of wounds, and near the ankle the varicose ulcer was an inflamed mass with flakes of skin peeling off it. But the truly frightening thing was the emaciation of his body. The barrel of the ribs was as narrow as that of a skeleton: the legs had shrunk so that the knees were thicker than the thighs. He saw now what O'Brien had meant about seeing the side view. The curvature of the spine was astonishing. The thin shoulders were hunched forward so as to make a cavity of the chest, the scraggy neck seemed to be bending double under the weight of the skull. At a guess he would have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering from some malignant disease.

"You have thought sometimes," said O'Brien, "that my face - the face of a member of the Inner Party - looks old and worn. What do you think of your own face?"

He seized Winston's shoulder and spun him round so that he was facing him.

"Look at the condition you are in!" he said. "Look at this filthy grime all over your body. Look at the dirt between your toes. Look at that disgusting running sore on your leg. Do you know that you stink like a goat? Probably you have ceased to notice it. Look at your emaciation. Do you see? I can make my thumb and forefinger meet round your bicep. I could snap your neck like a carrot. Do you know that you have lost twenty-five kilograms since you have been in our hands? Even your hair is coming out in handfuls. Look!" He plucked at Winston's head and brought out a tuft of hair. "Open your mouth. Nine, ten, eleven teeth left. How many had you when you came to us? And the few you have left are dropping out of your head. Look here!"He seized one of Winston's remaining front teeth between his powerful thumb and forefinger. A twinge of pain shot through Winston's jaw. O'Brien had wrenched the loose tooth out by the roots. He tossed it across the cell. "You are rotting away," he said; "you are falling to pieces. What are you? A bag of filth. Now turn round and look into that mirror again. Do you see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity. Now put your clothes on again."

Winston began to dress himself with slow stiff movements. Until now he had not seemed to notice how thin and weak he was. Only one thought stirred in his mind: that he must have been in this place longer than he had imagined. Then suddenly, as he fixed the miserable rags round himself a feeling of pity for his ruined body overcame him. Before he knew what he was doing he had collapsed on to a small stool that stood beside the bed and burst into tears. He was aware of his ugliness, his gracelessness, a bundle of bones in filthy underclothes sitting weeping in the harsh white light: but he could not stop himself. O'Brien laid a hand on his shoulder, almost kindly.

"It will not last for ever." he said. "You can escape from it whenever you choose. Everything depends on yourself."

"You did it!" sobbed Winston. "You reduced me to this state."

"No, Winston, you reduced yourself to it. This is what you accepted when you set yourself up against the Party. It was all contained in the first act. Nothing has happened that you did not foresee. We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you up. You have seen what your body is like. Your mind is in the same state. I don not think there can be much pride left in you. You have been kicked and flogged and insulted, you have screamed with pain, you have rolled on the floor in your own blood and vomit. You have whimpered for mercy, you have betrayed everybody, and everything. Can you think of a single degradation that has not happened to you?"

Winston had stopped weeping, though the tears were still coming out of his eyes. He looked up at O'Brien.

"I have not betrayed Julia." he said.

O'Brien looked down at him thoughtfully.

"No," he said; "no, that is perfectly true, You have not betrayed Julia."

Under torture he had told them everything he knew about her, her habits, her character her past life; everything that had happened at their meetings, all that he had said to her and she to him, their black-market meals, their adulteries, their vague plottings against the Party - everything. And yet, in the sense in which he intended the word, he had not betrayed her. He had not stopped loving her; his feelings towards her remained the same. O'Brien had seen what he meant without the need for explanation.

"Tell me," Winston said, "how soon will they shoot me?"

"It might be a long time," said O'Brien. "You are a difficult case. But don't give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or later. In the end we shall shoot you."

Israel asks USA for more cluster bombs (against civilians in populated areas). SydneyHerald, Aug 11, 2006. Go to MOSES MENTIONS MOAB

Israel using vehicle-mounted sound weapon (even after covering ears sound rings in head). Newsday, Jun 10, 2005 & Israel introduces "The Scream" weapon (sound hits inner ear at special frequency causing dizziness, nausea, hearing loss; USA, China & Russia will use weapon against civilian populations). Aljazeera.com, Jun 10, 2005

INDIVIDUAL A THREAT TO THE PARTY (reader wonders why). Apr 13, 2005

TORTURING TO FIND GOD (people to be tortured & brain scanned to see if faith is there). MSNBC, Jan 12, 2005. Go to ORWELL SAW GOD IN MAN

UN giving self more power (wants "right & duty to intervene if gov'ts fail their responsibility to protect their citizens"). BBC, Dec 2, 2004. Go to 9/11 IS COLCHESTER BOMB & BIG BROTHER BUGGERS

WHY O'BRIEN WATCHED WINSTON (reader wants to know). Nov 18, 2004

US army food ...just add urine (reduces water soldiers need to carry). BBC, Jul 22, 2004. Go to 12.Minipax & TAKE NOT OUR DAILY BREAD & MAMAS DON'T LET YOUR BABIES

THE SPIRIT OF MAN (reader says concept of God left out of book). Mar 21, 2004

9-11 TO 3-11 IS 911 DAYS (points out observant reader). Mar 13, 2004. Go to 28.Reality Control & BIG BROTHER SYMBOLISM

GULAG BONES UNCOVERED (no memorial because those who caused it still in power). NewYorkTimes, Feb 24, 2004. Go to 7.Systems of Thought & GULAG'S HAUNTING LEGACY

ORWELL'S LESSONS (it's important to heed 1984's warnings about totalitarianism). Vancouver Sun, Jan 11, 2004. Go to 41.The Party Tells 'How' & WHY ORWELL WROTE 1984

NO ESCAPE FOR GULAG PRISONERS (treated like slaves w/o wages in mines, factories & laying track). Telegraph, Jan 4, 2004

COMMUNISM'S TRUE BELIEVERS (broke all records for mass slaughter). National Post, Jan 4, 2004. Go to SOVIET UNION FAMINE EXPOSURE & COMMUNISTS COINED 'MCCARTHYISM'

Nauru hunger strike a tragedy (Afghan men sew lips together; 280 asylum seekers including 93 children). Sydney Herald, Dec 22, 2003. Go to CANADA REJECTS NAURU REFUGEES & AFGHANISTAN AFTERMATH

Rumsfield says USA needs bigger army (war is sport in Rummyland). Time, Dec 22, 2003. Go to UNCLE SAMUEL WANTS YOU!

Cops demand remote control of vehicles (stop anyone's car by pushing button to keep people safe & prevent crime). Guardian, Dec 22, 2003. Go to ANIMAL FARM DOGS

Mugabe crushes protest marches (police & army arrest & shoot). Telegraph, Jun 3, 2003. Go to 'boot stamping on human face'

RAELIAN BIBLE STORY (first humans cloned). Telegraph, May 2, 2003 & ORWELL ON RELIGION

Scientists can make human eggs (from male embryos). Telegraph, May 2, 2003. Go to 30.Love Instinct & Family & PROCREATION IN BNW



Cops shout Taser! Taser! Taser! (shoot 50,000-volts at victim who collapses into foetal ball). Telegraph, Apr 17, 2003. Go to 13.Weapons & ANIMAL FARM DOGS

London's Big Bad Brother ("Imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever"). BBC, Mar 25, 2003. Go to 3.Surveillance

The guilty mind (can't keep thoughts to self). National Post, Feb 9, 2003. Go to 14.Experimentation & 21.Crimestop & THOUGHTCRIME TO CRIMESTOP

The guilt-free soldier ("devil pill" short-circuits brain wiring of primal fear). Village Voice, Jan 22, 2003. Go to 14.Scientific Experimentation & 41.Party Tells 'How'

Remote control brain sensor (for those delusional about electrodes). BBC, Nov 18, 2002

Scientists reading your mind (gov't to use brain scans). Philly Inquirer, Oct 29, 2002

China shows off "happy" prisoners (to dispel brutality rumours). Globe & Mail, Sep 16, 2002. Go to 43.Winston Talks In Sleep

ANOTHER SNAPSHOT OF STALIN (Evil Incarnate widely ignored). New York Sun, Jul 30,2002

SNAPSHOT OF STALIN (regime of cruelty, madness and evil). National Post, Jul 21, 2002

~ REALITY IS MANUFACTURED IN LAB (General Motors collaborating in Illusion Machine). National Post, Mar 16, 2002.

Move to lock up mentally-ill criticised (Government assuming 'an Orwellian air'). London Telegraph, Dec 7, 2001

USA drops 7-tonne bombs on Afghanistan (destroys internal organs within 600-metre range and sends psychological message). National Post, Nov 7, 2001. Go to REMEMBERING AFGHANISTAN

Professor set to 'control' wife by cyborg implant. Sunday Times, May 6, 2001

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

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