For the last sixty-odd years, the usually accepted viewpoint in regard to Orwell's novel has been "Oh...it was intended as a warning against Stalinism".
I hereby dare to question that view:
This book has nothing to do with 'Stalinism' or 'Fascism' or any other ideology- and yet it has everything to do with all of them; for above all else, it is a dire warning against human fallibility...and against selfrighteousness.
I don't know if anyone has noticed before; if so- my apologies in advance--, but the story contains a number of discrepancies which are easily overlooked.
This is not an accident; the book was in fact designed that way- on purpose.
Had Eric Blair openly described what he really means- this book would never have been published.
I'd love to provide a link to an online-version of the novel; unfortunately it will not be in the public domain under American copyright-laws for quite some time. Just google it- and make sure you read it before reading the contents of this topic.
And then- read very carefully...
There are two statements in Orwell's story which must be juxtaposed: Together they reveal the true structure of his nightmare.
The first statement is found in Goldstein's book.
What must be understood beforehand is that this book is part of the mechanism by which the status quo in Orwell's world is maintained.
"Big Brother" and "Goldstein" are in fact merely symbols; they do not exist in any physical sense.
They form the two poles of a battery which is the source of power for the rulers.
Since any form of communication between individuals- whichever kind on whatever kind of level- is virtually made impossible, feelings such as 'Love' or 'Affection' do not have any normal outlet.
"Big Brother" thus becomes the only possible focus for 'Love'; people simply are given no other choice.
"Goldstein" is the other pole of the battery- not merely the focus of hate, but the means by which love is transformed into hate. While "Big Brother" takes the role of 'God', the figure of "Goldstein" becomes the 'Devil'.
The feeling of 'love' is transformed into 'hate'- and people can receive their daily top-up during the 'Two Minutes Hate': The ultimate form of "Divide Et Impera".
Goldstein's book is a part of that mechanism.
In a society in which the 'Prols' are fighting over wonky cooking-pots and buy what they believe to be illegal pornography provided to them by the 'Pornosec'-department of the Ministry of Truth, the middle class formed by the 'Outer Party' which is teetering on the brink of starvation tends to hide Goldstein's book under their jackets- which they believe to be "illegal pornography" in a different sense.
That book is provided to them by the 'Inner Party'- by O'Brien's own admission.
The reason why Winston discovers (during the "Two Minutes Hate") that it is possible to shift one's hate from "Goldstein" to "Big Brother" lies in the fact that he has already made one tiny step towards becoming a follower of Goldstein:
He has bought the old diary- from an antiques-shop run by a member of the Thought-police.
The diary is in effect provided to him like the bait in a rat-trap:
It is the Thought-Police which creates Goldstein's followers, for the purpose of keeping the divisions within that society going.
This is also the explanation for Winston's fear of rats: He is scared to death of them- because he is practically no more than a lab-rat running through a labyrinth himself- with O'Brien being the mad scientist who makes him run. Being faced with the prospect of having rats released into his face, he reveals his own nature:
He acts like a true rat...
"...Please- not me...Do it to her...Do it to Julia!"
The 'Inner Party'-members then have their own form of titillation- in the shape of 'Room one-o-one':
Their own form of 'pornography'...
They are not exactly 'rich'. Neither are they as powerful as they make themselves believe- by way of the same mechanism which keeps the rest of society in check: The 'Doublethink'-principle…
The statements in Goldstein's book must be seen in that light.
In chapter one of that book ("The theory and practise of oligarchical collectivism"), Goldstein explains how the three nations were formed; he then explains that these nations are constantly at war, that these wars effectively are just one war, and that this war is de facto un-winnable-- because the three nations are perfectly balanced.
The idea of 'perfect balance' is in itself fallacious; if all three nations are equally strong- then how is it possible that they should be individually powerful enough to withstand an alliance of the other two?
Imagine two boxers in a boxing-match whose skills are perfectly matched: Their strength, their agility, their skill, their concentration.
The outcome would be a stalemate.
Now imagine a boxing-match where those two are joined by a third boxer who shares all the attributes of the first two- and this boxer sides with one of the other two:
The outcome would be a forgone conclusion.
The reason why this simple fact is usually overlooked is found partially in the fact that Orwell's book was at some stage declared to be 'anti-communist' or 'anti-Stalinist'- which made it difficult to look at the novel from any other angle.
At the same time, the average reader can not help but to sympathise with the figure of 'Winston Smith'- simply because there is nothing else he could really identify with (and that effect is very much wanted- because the reader in effect IS Winston Smith. We all are…)
Seen in this light, Goldstein's book takes on an air of authority: Goldstein and Winston become associated, because they both appear to be rebels against an inhuman world. Doubting Goldstein's words would mean doubting the act of rebellion itself.
The simple truth is that Goldstein's book was written by members of the 'Inner Party'- for the purpose of helping to maintain the very status quo which both Goldstein and Winston supposedly rebel against. Winston is a rebel only on the surface: In reality, he quite and simply does exactly what the rulers expect him to do, and by doing so he provides the focus for the hatred which fuels the power-machine:
This is a society based on manipulation…
The second statement I mentioned is found at the beginning of the story, during the 'Two Minutes Hate'.
While Winston joins in with the crowd howling abuse at the figure of Goldstein up on the Telescreen, there is a curios sentence worked into the storyline.
Referring to Goldstein, it reads:
"He was a subject of hatred more enduring then even Eurasia or Eastasia, for even when Oceania was at war with one of these powers, it was generally at peace with the other".
This statement is not part of Goldstein's book, it does not originate from the 'Inner Party', it is not part of the mechanism designed to maintain the status quo, and it is not part of any dialogue.
It's a narrative- with Orwell himself being the narrator.
That means it represents an absolute truth.
In practical terms, it means that of the three possible configurations imaginable, only two are ever realised:
Either Oceania is allied with Eurasia- with Eastasia subsequently facing two opponents at the same time.
Or else Oceania is allied with Eastasia and the roles are reversed.
Any alliance between Eurasia and Eastasia against Oceania is automatically excluded by the statement that Oceania is "...generally at peace with the other".
Oceania is in fact the only one of these three powers which never has to face two opponents at the same time.
The other two will incur an increased amount of damage during the periods whenever they face Oceania as the second opponent, and they will recover from that damage whenever the alliance shifts- facing only one opponent while sharing the burden with Oceania.
Oceania only ever faces one opponent- and the burden is always shared with someone else…
Thus Oceania continuously accumulates surplus which comes to pass quite simply because Oceania never needs to expend resources for the purpose of recovering from the kind of damage they would incur had they to face two opponents.
This is surplus which according to Goldstein's book shouldn't even exist.
If Oceania would continue to accumulate this surplus over several cycles during which alliances are changed in the way described above, they would eventually have enough reserves to defeat the other two one after another.
But this does never happen; the surplus is not used for this purpose either.
So- were does this surplus go…?
If Eurasia and Eastasia would be true independent, sovereign states- then sooner or later they would form an alliance against Oceania.
This possibility is as I said excluded by the statement "…it was generally at peace with the other".
If they never form an alliance against a nation which apparently shifts alliances at will and seems to accumulate surplus which could be the deciding factor in a conflict- then the only possible explanation is that they quite and simply are not sovereign or independent at all.
Unless one presupposes that their rulers use the "Doublethink"-principle to brainwash themeselves into accepting that Oceania enjoys a special status...Which would be quite nonsensical.
This in turn means that Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are in fact part of one single structure.
The society of Oceania is supposedly structured like a pyramid- with lower strata, mid section, superstructure and a capstone in the shape of "Big Brother".
By rights, this pyramid should be four-sided—like an Egyptian pyramid.
But the fact that Oceania and the other two 'Nations' appear to form a single structure means that the nature of this pyramid takes on a different form as well.
Someone seems to re-set the chess-pieces into their starting position whenever checkmate becomes possible- someone who is outside of the field of sight even of the members of the supposedly omnipotent 'Inner Party'.
The entire power-structure described in the book suddenly looks like an illusion- in a world made of illusions.
The pyramid is not four-sided at all; although seen from the proper angle, it appears so.
In reality, it is a three-sided pyramid—as are the other two.
Together, they are arranged inside of a triangle; above them is the structure which contains the true rulers of Oceania:
A fourth pyramid-- but one which does not contain any layers whatsoever.
This pyramid is in reality a giant capstone- the true pyramidion. This is where the surplus goes...
Orwell explains that 'Airstrip One' is the province of Oceania with the third-largest population. That statement is true.
The other two provinces are Eurasia and Eastasia. They are each the province with second-largest and the largest population- at the same time…
You may ask "...how could that be possible…?"
The explanation is simple. 'Airstrip One' used to be Great Britain. An 'Airstrip' could be defined as a 'Provisional Frontline Air Force Base'.
During World War two, there were hundreds of 'Airstrips' set up throughout Britain; but the concept originated in the Pacific war theatre.
In the Pacific, an 'Airstrip' would usually be set up on some relatively small island; runways would consist of pre-fabricated interlocking metal-sheets. There are many islands in the Pacific were these perforated metal-sheets can still be seen today.
Features like a 'Control-tower' were constructed of palm-logs or bamboo; aircraft would be maintained out in the open, and soldiers would be accommodated in tents.
In other words- these were very much temporary installations which were kept as simple and primitive as possible, and which could easily be re-located to another island whenever necessary.
The ones in Britain were somewhat more sophisticated; but the original idea was based on the concept of 'simplicity' and was therefore linked to the concept of 'primitive'.
In the novel, Britain has not only been reduced to the level of a mere province but to the level of a makeshift frontline military installation: Like a world war one trench used by aircraft…
One can safely assume that the terminology used in Eurasia and Eastasia will follow the same pattern. One of them is 'Airstrip Two', and the other 'Airstrip Three'.
The overall population of Oceania is 300 million: The third-largest province contains 60 million.
The other two contain plus/minus 120 million each: Since the overall number of people there will fluctuate with the shifting alliances, they are each both the largest and second largest province of Oceania at the same time- while people living there are not even consciously aware that they are in fact Oceanian citizens.
'Airstrip One' only ever faces one opponent while sharing the burden with the other 'province'. The population there remains therefore relatively constant.
Since the other two are subjected to the effects of the shifting alliances, their status will alternate between being 'largest' (whenever they are allied to 'Airstrip One') and 'second-largest' (whenever they face 'Airstrip One).
This is the true meaning of Goldstein's claims that the three nations are completely balanced while being powerful enough to withstand even an alliance of two.
Oceania with a population of 60 million can sustain a war with an opponent double the size- because Oceania is always allied to a nation with a population of around 120 million.
Oceania's opponent faces a combined strength of around 180 million- until the chess-pieces are re-set…And the configuration of the alliance is changed from 'A' to 'B'.
The fourth pyramid only contains the rulers- there are no layers in the capstone of the structure.
The reasons why these rulers are de-facto omnipotent pseudo-immortal Gods lies firstly in the fact that they form an 'immortal' collective and secondly in that no one in the lower structure is ever consciously aware that the capstone even exists.
And if you don't even know that it exists- then how can you ever develop the desire to overthrow it…?
The remainder of mankind consists of 300 million individuals who can not communicate with each other or with anyone further away than 'the countryside'. They are not aware of the true reality of the structures which govern their existence.
The illusion of a social hierarchy is maintained- for the purpose of concealing the true power-structure, nothing else.
The various groups- 'Prols', 'Outer Party' and 'Inner Party'- are kept apart by this illusion; they are manipulated in such a way that the status quo is maintained at all times.
The true rulers are never in any danger of being ousted. Subsequently their 'collective' does not need to exceed a certain size- which is dictated by only one consideration: Genetic sustainability.
In order to prevent in-breeding, a certain number of individuals will be required- a few hundred at the most.
The 'pyramid' which appears on the surface is nothing but an elaborate illusion- like everything else in a world made of illusions.
In reality, there is only one single gigantic lower class made up of 'Prols'- and of people who believe the illusion that they are anything but 'Prols'.
They are not ever consciously aware that there is a ruling class of pseudo-gods above them.
And in the absence of a true middle class, there will be no one who can "...promise them a class-less society..."
(Edit: Incidentally, that part of Goldstein's book is to be questioned as well...)
This is the true meaning of "Oligarchical Collectivism": A form of society in which the vast majority is ruled by a tiny minority elite forming a pseudo-immortal collective.
And with that it also forms the true meaning of Orwell's nightmare-vision:
Call it "The religion of un-creation"- with Goldstein's book being the relevant 'un-creation myth'...
And compare it with Eileen O'Shaughnessy's poem found here: