INGSOC is used by the only political party in the super-state, and, according to Winston Smith, no one is quite sure when the Party came into power.
INGSOC comes from the British Isles and is based around the principles that a party needs to use whatever power they can to retain control over their citizens.
It’s believed that the Party seized power during the establishment of the super-state of Oceania, with Big Brother as the figurehead. (It is debated whether or not Big Brother is, or ever has been, a real person, or if he is just a symbol.)
It becomes clear as the book progresses that the accumulation of power and the exertion of that same power over everyday people is what the Party strives for. The more control they gain, the stronger they become.
Importantly, it’s not just the control over what people do or what they believe, but also what they think (or even what they’re capable of speaking). Through the implementation of Newspeak, the government is purposefully whittling down the English language, removing words they believe could lead to rebellion or discontent. They are also adding shortened versions of words like “INGSOC” itself, thinkpol, and unperson.”
If the government can control what people think, there is no way that someone would think themselves into a different opinion of Big Brother and the leaders of the Party. Without words like “rebellion” or “free speech” one will lose the ability to conceive of them.
Additionally, as seen through the torture of Winston Smith towards the end of the novel, the Party leaders seek to snuff out any hint of rebellion in the form of brainwashing and mind control before even killing that person. Consider this interaction between Winston and O’Brien during this scene:
Tell me, Winston—and remember, no lies: you know that I am always able to detect a lie—tell me, what are your true feelings towards Big Brother?
‘I hate him.’
‘You hate him. Good. Then the time has come for you to take the last step. You must love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him: you must love him.’
O’Brien makes it clear that obedience is not enough, Winston has to love Big Brother.
Two Minutes of Hate
The “Two Minutes of Hate” is an integral part of society under the rule of the Party. In the novel, one iteration of the Two Minutes of Hate begins with a video of Emmanuel Goldstein and images of the Eurasian army. The former speaks against Big Brother in a way that riles up the crowds watching. The narrator explains how the following occurs when Winston watches.
his diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard—a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheep-like quality.
Even Winston, who is against what the Party stands for, is not immune to the propaganda meant to make him feel hatred towards Goldstein. The narrator goes on, describing how in the second minute of the hate, it rose “to a frenzy.”
People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed.
Winston finds himself shouting with the others. The purpose of this process is to allow the citizens of Oceania to feel strong emotions. It’s the only time they’re allowed to do so. If the government can focus it on political enemies, then they’re sure that that energy is not going to be expended somewhere else. It’s often described as a stand-in for sex and true passion about something one loves.
Principles of INGSOC
There are three “sacred principles” of INGSOC. They are Newspeak, as described above, doublethink, and the mutability (or changeability) of the past. The Party attempts to control what its citizens are thinking through all three of these means. With doublethink, Orwell stated that it is “to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies” and “to hold simultaneously two opinions which” one knows to be contradictory but believing them both. It’s a paradox that allows the Party to do anything it wants, including changing who Oceania is at war with without the majority of the citizens noticing. For example, the narrator says that:
At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines.
Winston knows that it was “only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in an alliance with Eurasia.” But, as is the case with doublethink, “that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.”
What are the three principles of INGSOC?
The three principles of INGSOC are the mutability of the past, doublethink, and Newspeak. They all allow the government to exert control over what their citizens believe and even what they think.
Who is the leader of INGSOC?
Big Brother is the leader of INGSOC in the novel 1984. He is a dark-haired, mustachioed figure who features on posters and videos around Winston Smith’s city.
What does INGSOC mean in 1984?
INGSOC stands for “English Socialism” in 1984. It is a Newspeak word. Part of the dictionary of words that’s seeking to shorten the English language into controllable bites.
Related Terms in 1984
- Ministry of Love: responsible for brainwashing the citizens of Oceania.
- Ministry of Truth: the ministry responsible for changing history to suit the Party.
- Thought Police: the group responsible for arresting those charged with thoughtcrime.
- Thoughtcrime: any thought that goes against what the Party believes or what one is supposed to be doing.
- Newspeak: the language used to diminish the range of thought in Oceania.