«Contents PART ONE 4 Chapter 1 5 Chapter 2 14 Chapter 3 19 Chapter 4 24 Chapter 5 30 Chapter 6 38 Chapter 7 41 Chapter 8 47 PART TWO 58 Chapter 1 59 ...»
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! 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 did 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.’ ‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals–mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’ ‘Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing.
Outside man there is nothing.’ ‘But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are a million light-years away.
They are out of our reach for ever.’ ‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe.
The sun and the stars go round it.’ Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O’Brien continued
as though answering a spoken objection:
‘For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?’ Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon.
And yet he knew, he KNEW, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind–surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.
‘I told you, Winston,’ he said, ‘that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like.
But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression,’ he added in a different tone. ‘The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.’ He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’ Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he 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.
Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. 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 mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual 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?’ ‘It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred and cruelty. It would never endure.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit suicide.’ ‘Nonsense. You are under the impression that hatred is more exhausting than love. Why should it be? And if it were, what difference would that make? Suppose that we choose to wear ourselves out faster. Suppose that we quicken the tempo of human life till men are senile at thirty. Still what difference would it make? 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?’ ‘No.’ ‘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?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘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. Two other voices were speaking. After a moment Winston recognized one of them as his own. It was a sound-track of the conversation he had had with O’Brien, on the night when he had enrolled himself in the Brotherhood. He heard himself promising to lie, to steal, to forge, to murder, to encourage drug-taking and prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases, to throw vitriol in a child’s face. O’Brien made a small impatient gesture, as though to say that the demonstration was hardly worth making. Then he turned a switch and the voices stopped.
‘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 you are. Take off your clothes.’ Winston undid the bit of string that held his overalls together. The zip fastener had long since been wrenched out of them. He could not remember whether at any time since his arrest he had taken off all his clothes at one time. Beneath the overalls his body was looped with filthy yellowish rags, just recognizable as the remnants of underclothes. 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.’ He 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, jailbird’s face with a nobby forehead running back into a bald scalp, a crooked nose, and battered-looking cheekbones above which his 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. The emotions it registered would be different from the ones he felt. He had gone partially bald. For the first moment he had thought that he had gone grey as well, but it was only the scalp that was grey. 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 the 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 away 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 around 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 that first act. Nothing has happened that you did not foresee.’
He paused, and then went on:
‘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 do 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 oozing out of his eyes. He looked up at O’Brien.
‘I have not betrayed Julia,’ he said.