Much has been said and explained concerning the novel “1984”. However, hardly anything has been commented on with regards to the book within a book that happens inside of the plot. It is my belief that “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchial Collectivism”, the book found by the main character Winston, holds the instructions to understanding George Orwell’s work as a whole. The primary context for this book is the novel “1984”, which is the environment that this book exists in. The book is a treatise by Emmanuel Goldstein, one of the founders of the ruling Party who has become an enemy of the same Party years later. Later on in the novel we learn that the book was fabricated by the Party in order to lure those who would rebel either in thought or deed out into the open. The irony is that though a falsehood, the book is actually a window of truth about the Party and explains how the Party works to continue its reign. This is the world of “1984”, placed like a diagram before the reader and the characters in the novel, where reality and lies coexist.
Some terms need to be flushed out in order to follow the premise of the book within the book. IngSoc is the political system and method by which the future of the novel is governed, and the word is an abbreviation of English Socialism. The act of a thought-crime is one where a person would consider going against the Party, which is simultaneously the state, and therefore would be already committing a crime by thinking about it. The language of newspeak is such that vocabulary is cut down to a bare minimum in order to prevent any act of speech that could be rebellious such as words with threatening connotations alone. “Ignorance is Strength, Slavery is Freedom, War is Peace” are three slogans which are phrased in newspeak and sum up the conditions of the society in “1984” where whatever is best for the Party is best for the people. In the novel, states span continents to such a degree that there are only three of them: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia all in a state of war. The Ministry Of Truth is where Winston works, editing books and newspapers to such a degree that truth is completely dissected, and it is his superior that gives him the book. The practice of doublethink is where two truths exist side-by-side within one’s mind in order to safeguard against committing a thought-crime.
The book that Winston discovers, titled “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchial Collectivism”, presents not only the history of the revolution but themes by which the Party is able to stay in power. Later on, Winston is apprehended and told by his superior that the book was created by the Party as bait for those who would act against the government. Even though the book, and its author, does not exist there is valid truth in how it depicts the structure of power. The government institutions conduct the eradication of time as well as the eradication of facts. The Ministry Of Truth personifies this action, constantly changing all written fiction and nonfiction on a daily basis. History, as part of this written information, exists only as text that is attacked by the editing process. The sole goal of the Party is the artificial continuation of the status quo, which is a continuation of an immortal present tense. The state Winston is in is at war, with one of the other existing states, and allied with the third. When the enemy changes, the facts are changed to make it seem that the present situation has always been this way. The society under the Party accepts that it is their duty to obey the state in this war effort, a state of emergency that is an excuse for limited resources and liberties. There is a dependency on Big Brother for the status quo. The status quo is whatever the Party says, and people learn this from the constantly changing facts of the media. Big Brother, as the personification of the Party, is himself a fiction. The entire system is made to appear to flow from Big Brother, and therefore a fiction is responsible for a fiction. The use of trauma to achieve pseudo-mind control is the method for this status quo, making the people have a victimized mentality. However, as victims, they can only seek relief from the attacker and strengthen the dependency. The attacker, the Party, punishes the people if they believe “2+2 = 4” or even if the Party tells them “2+2 = 5” and the people believe that. The Party leaves the people in suspension as to what to believe until the Party tells them.
The eradication of language stalls the flow of information. It works with the continual editing process by making it impossible for the change in time and facts to be made apparent and fully realized. The sense of meaning that is made possible in language is extracted in order to disrupt basic communication that is normal within social systems. The combination of trauma, dependency, and the eradication of a sense of time and place allow for the recreation of man for the Party. Individuals are broken down by upsetting any foundation that is formed by history, language, common facts, or security. There is instead the emergence of a complete and exclusive existential base, seamless in its control and proficient in its maintenance, that is subject to the Party and its own needs for stability. In other words, the people exist only as a reflection of the Party and must be uprooted from reality itself to be in this position. It is the epitome of an industrial form of motivational purpose, a closed functional machine in which individuals are as nodes of the Party. On a basic level, this means that social bonds are eradicated and there is constant warfare by the Party on its members.
The importance of this book is to bring out the details of the novel in general. The book substantiates the main character’s doubts about the system since it is a lie that also tells the truth. In this way, the book imitates the novel since a work of fiction is not true but may have an important message that can be true on its own. The book lures the character into false hopes, whereby he thinks that there is a rebellion that can work behind the scenes and stop the control by the Party, only to be shown that the Party is responsible for the illusion of a rebellion that is used as a public scapegoat. The themes of the book reveal the underpinning of reality, as well as the fact of it being a lie and tool of manipulation proving the themes. On its own it is a plan for a pre-fabricated society, which is purely artificial. There would be no chance of any natural social or political growth because the foundation of reality would be revised constantly against the interests of the people.
Like the novel, and other examples of Orwell’s work, the book is an analogy for Stalinist ideology and chronology. In Stalin’s regime, historical records were constantly modified to suit his whim to such a degree that Russians now find it hard to know what actually happened in the middle decades of the 20th century. The book, existing as a plot element in a novel, is a work as simulacrum of an actual nonexistent treatise. The book could have been written after the novel was published to explain the political method of power, but instead is part of this novel of fiction as a work of fiction. The validity of the work is its residing in pure simulation, yet functional in capturing the ways and means of the exercise of power in this world. On another level, the book is a stimulus for the main plotline, allowing Winston to briefly rise above his situation and make an attempt at freedom.
In summation, the book within a book describes an epitome of modernist attitude to its logical extreme. The party has reduced everything to function, and is willing to tear apart reality to do so. It is also a concise overview of the political meaning in the macro-plot, which would be the plot solely of the novel. In other words, what was implied in the action of the fictional characters is made explicit in a scholarly sense. The book within the plotline depicts all individuals as sources to be doubted, since it is through individuals within the structure that Winston both receives the book and is betrayed by the eradication of facts. The lesson that the book concludes with is that citizens in this order of power are defined as harassed subjects in suspension of deception, waiting for reality to be created for them for the moment. The personal cohesion erased in favor of the Party is the lesson that the book was originally created to convey, but within its pages there is a more in depth appreciation of the entire work that is “1984”.