The theory and practice of oligarchical oh li gar kick collectivism
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The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical (oh-li-gar-kick) Collectivism. George Orwell presents…. Or: “How to stop crafting a nuanced piece of fiction and cram in your own philosophical principles with all the subtlety of a tap-dancing rhinoceros.” .

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The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical (oh-li-gar-kick) Collectivism

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The theory and practice of oligarchical oh li gar kick collectivism

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical (oh-li-gar-kick) Collectivism

George Orwell presents…

Or: “How to stop crafting a nuanced piece of fiction and cram in your own philosophical principles with all the subtlety of a tap-dancing rhinoceros.”

Ahhh chapter 9 of 1984

…Where Orwell presents an excerpt from Emmanuel Goldstein’s book.

Ahhh… Chapter 9 of 1984!

…Where the author presents his most overt philosophical beliefs on society, politics, and the history of organized government.

…Where readers ask themselves, “Can this be true?” and “What does it mean?” and “How many marshmallows can I fit in my mouth?”

Oli what

Oligarchy: a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society.


  • Collectivism: a term used to describe any moral, political, or social outlook that stresses human interdependence and the importance of a “collective group” rather than the importance of separate individuals.

Some working definitions of isms you ll just heart them

Capitalism: A social system based in which people are free to produce, trade, and thus precondition an economic system in which all property is privately owned and operated for profit.

Investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a market economy.

Some working definitions of -isms… You’ll just heart them!

  • Socialism: A socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community.

Let s start with where orwell got his ideas

Let’s start with where Orwell got his ideas.

  • Das Kapital by Karl Marx

  • The Managerial Revolutionby James Burnham

  • Hitler’s Germany

Das kapital by karl marx

Das Kapitalby Karl Marx

  • Orwell was heavily influenced by Marx’s Das Kapital, a criticism of capitalism.

  • Marx explained that the central injustice of capitalism was in the exploitation and alienation of labor-- "the degradation of labor".

  • In Das Kapital, Marx describes history in terms of classes: the upper class—who control the means of production—and the lower class—who trade their labor for access to the means.

  • To analyze a work literary work like 1984 from a Marxist perspective, the reader must identify the social classes and describe how their interactions shape the story.

The managerial revolution by james burnham

The Managerial Revolutionby James Burnham

  • Burnham wrote several influential essays.

  • In The Managerial Revolution, Burnham argued that capitalism was fading, but socialism was not taking its place. Instead, a complex system of super-nations (corporations) were becoming the new organizers of society.

  • These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.

The managerial revolution continued

The Managerial Revolutioncontinued

  • Burnham is mainly interested in demonstrating that a democratic society has never existed and so far as we can see, never will exist.

  • Society is of its nature oligarchical—that is, governed by the few– and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud.

The Three Stooges are not a committee.

Hitler s nazi germany

It is no coincidence that Emmanuel Goldstein is a Jewish name.

Hitler’s Nazi Germany

Orwell was deeply disturbed by the pervasiveness, efficiency, and success of Nazi Germany. He based many facets of 1984 on its example, including:

  • The use of sophisticated propaganda against a largely innocuous or invented adversary to create patriotic fury in the masses.

  • The use of an oppressive and often secret police (Gestapo) to enforce internal threats to the lower party.

  • The attempts to control the populace through reinvention of language, family units, and even historical details.

Now on to chapter 9

Now… on to Chapter 9!

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism

Chapter 1: Ignorance is Strength

Chapter 1 ignorance is strength

Chapter 1: Ignorance is Strength

This pattern never changes.

And thus, history unfolds in the following pattern:

The Middle want to switch places with The High.

The High wish to remain High… er, in power, that is.

The High remain in power for a time, until they lose faith in themselves, or their ability to rule efficiently, or both.

They are overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low by pretending to be fighting for liberty or justice or some other cause.

Thus, the Middle become the new High, while a new Middle develops, and the Low remain in their previous position.

The Low—when they have a goal—wish to establish a society where there are no class distinctions.

  • Throughout history, there have been three kinds of people: The High, The Middle, and The Low.

  • The goals of each group are entirely irreconcilable.

Kill the rich!

Kill the rich!

Poop On You!

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Chapter 1 ignorance is strength1

Chapter 1: Ignorance is Strength

  • The entire function of Ingsoc, the ruling party of Oceania, is to ensure that Ingsoc never loses power. To that end, the party utilizes a variety of techniques:

    • Inbred Crimestop

    • Doublethink

    • A constantly changing past

    • Perpetual Warfare

Chapter 1 ignorance is strength2

...Prevent crimes by being so stupid or feeble-minded that you are no longer capable of revolutionary thought?

…Practice doublethink– the process of holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time and believing both?

…Wordlessly accept a constantly revised description of past events that almost always negate your own experiences?

Chapter 1: Ignorance is Strength

Indeed, shaping the ideal citizen is part of Ingsoc’s agenda.

Are you the perfect citizen? Do you…

Chapter 3 war is peace

Chapter 3: War is Peace

  • In Goldstein’s world, there are three superpowers:



No one superpower is strong enough to conquer the other two.

Thus, the goal of warfare is not to win, but to continuously use up the surplus of a society without actually raising the standard of living.

And so, the business of society becomes not protecting the interests of the governed, but a sustainable, perpetual state of warfare.





Chapter 3 war is peace1

Chapter 3: War is Peace

  • First, war eats up any surplus materials. If you have these lying around, sooner or later the lower classes are going to ask for them.

Why fight a never-ending war? Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

  • Second, it encourages people to hand authority over to a hierarchy. Threatened by an invading hoard? Don’t worry, an institutionalized system of government will save you!

  • Most importantly, it creates political dedication. It makes the governed more patriotic and they just want to KILL ALL TERRORISTS! THEY MUST DIE! THE STREETS WILL RUN WITH BLOOD! YAH YAHYAH I LOVE MY COUNTRY!!!!!

Chapter 3 war is peace2

Chapter 3: War is Peace

  • Now of course, we don’t actually want to WIN these wars. No, no, no.

  • For one thing, if you launch a full assault, you might LOSE. Best not fight anyone you could possibly lose to.

  • Second, if your people interact with other societies in a meaningful way, they might begin to identify with them as people. You’ll lose your cultural integrity.

  • Third—and most dangerous—your citizens might begin to recognize that 1) the enemy is much like themselves, 2) conditions within nations are not that different, and 3) each nation has pretty much the same ruling philosophy. This might lead to one of those aforementioned revolts.

Theory and practice do you buy it

Do you believe


Theory and Practice: Do you buy it?

Do you believe?

  • That those in power will seek to keep this power until it is forcibly removed?

  • That those in power will purposely perpetuate a wartime climate despite the loss of state and human capital?

  • That those in power will work to create a populace that is uninformed, disinterested in reform, and ultimately desirous that those in power remain empowered?

Orwell blended the political realities of his lifetime with the theories and ideas of Marx and Burnham to create the world of 1984. The question is: Do you agree with his conclusions?

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