Actions

Work Header

Famous last words

Work Text:

The Party had decided to allow the Proles to use the word they had devised for their version of the language, Prolespeak, and encourage an increased usage of Newspeak in the mix. When Newspeak had reached its minimalist goal Prolespeak would be treated as the ungood it would then be. It had not yet been decided when their word for a member of the Party, Partyist, would become redundant, Party and Ingsoc having then become synonymous. Almost uniquely among societies throughout humanity’s history those in power had a language and worldview that was more constricted than those they ruled.
That the Proles were not using Newspeak words in the same sense as members of the Party did not occur, and increasingly could not occur, to members of the Party: this applied even to members of the Thought Police. This was partly due to the constraints on the Party members’ worldview and also the Proles being able to shift between the more formal usages when addressing or being observed by Partyists and their own more exuberant usages otherwise. Sometimes, what were considered to be “quaint” intonations actually conveyed different meanings among the users. The shop persons and others Party members interacted with treated “Current Newspeak” as effectively a dialect that had to be learned and used when necessary. There was also a folk memory of self-education from #the time before the wars.#

The Thought Police did not blend in as well as they thought: their clothing was slightly too good, and their use of Prolespeak slightly too inflected with Newspeak idiom and patterns, and was far more constrained. Those Proles the Thought Police “called in for questioning” tended to be those who were unable to switch between varieties of Prolespeak readily enough, or were too overt in their criticism of the system. Some of those actively denounced by the Proles were Party activists attempting to encourage loyalty, and “reformers” - whose main reform appeared to be putting themselves into power rather than actually aiding those they proposed to help. It was suspected that they would hinder the development of what the Proles wished to achieve rather than help its progress.

The Proles, despite their limited official education, had a greater understanding of some aspects of society than their rulers. They knew that their rations were being reduced, despite the "official" statements otherwise, and the destruction of urban buildings caused by the “Steamers” was not being fully replaced: and that the lottery systems were not fully functional. They were aware that they had never come across independent details of a significant lottery winner - and their lines of communication were more extensive than the authorities were aware of. The devising of ever more complex methods of “winning systems” were one of the means of developing their mathematical and analytical skills – and the associated gatherings were tolerated whereas other groupings would have been severely dealt with. What they would do in the long run was not yet clear: at present the emphasis was on organisation and not alerting the Party, until it was no longer in a position to react.

****

It had been expected that it would become increasingly difficult to develop new editions of the Newspeak Dictionary. Much of the simpler work had been done: deciding the niceties and removing the remaining ambiguities was ever harder - even if discussing such points was being used to distract those who had passed through Room 101 and its equivalents from re-considering the trains of thought which had been at issue. That the process by its nature could not be completed was not discussed: anyone who tried to consider such things was subconsciously aware that they were moving towards Crimethought and so it was left unanalysed.
What was even more difficult was getting the members of the Party to un-remember words from earlier editions without drawing attention to what was being removed and thus creating ... it was #not to be thought about.# Increasing amounts of time and activity were being dedicated to identifying WordCrime and ThoughtCrime, with consideration of real problems and the long view being marginalised #when# they could be thought about. That eliminating a word did not necessarily mean eliminating what it referred to was not considered.
One group of people who did monitor the language were the young persons - whether or not formally acting as Spies. Listening for un-allowed words being used by their elders and those in the lesser ranks of authority who were unaware of changes - or using these words for the pleasure of their being forbidden was a way of defying authority, even if it was not always recognised as such. There were more subtle ways of defying authority by using words.
However mechanised the processes of writing texts for the Proles there had to be some oversight by Party members, with all the problems that could arise. There were not the facilities to train the Proles to switch to Newspeak... nor would there ever be, through deliberate official choice, and so the transition would never fully occur at the top.

****

The Cabinet of the Inner Party understood that the technicians were trying to tell them important things ... but there was no Inner Party Newspeak to explain in full what it was they were trying to say.
Somewhere in the earlier versions of the Newspeak dictionary - it was ungood to remember which or when - ‘disease’ had been redefined as ‘doubleplusungood cold’... and it seemed that several of these were ... the word ‘outbreak’ had long since been omitted from the dictionary. The Proles, however, knew the terms and that the diseases were having an impact.
Also the consequence of the Anti-Sex League being fully impactful for several years meant that there were now too few Party members childs. The Proles had more childs, but protested too much if their unbig-no-yet-speak-childs were adopted from them.
Investment in science and technology were ungood... and Airstrip One was running out of resources. There was not the knowledge of oil in what had once been called the North Sea, nor the capacity to extract it and other minerals, or improve agriculture and technology. Goods produced on Airstrip One were considered ungood by elsewhere, acquiring produced things required money going outwards: but there was an absence of such.
For the good of the party they would have to improve conditions in Ingsoc by reducing rations... it was Crimethink to think they were approaching the minimum.
The Proles would have to be exhorted to do yet more for Ingsoc... but there were no means of so communicating to them. They mostly did not have Telescreens, putting information into their newspapers caused disruption and #made them think#... doubleplusungoodCrimethink.

****

‘I’ve left school mother - why do I have to keep on studying?’
‘Do you want to end up as ignorant as a Partyist?’
‘#They# are in power.’
‘#They# have to come to #our# shops for ordinary things. They have to constantly think about what they say or have terrible things happen to them. They #have# to forget. And you would not be allowed to enjoy being with your partners.’ She smiled at memories. ‘Your parents were young once, hard as it is to imagine.’
‘Why should we learn - when all there is are boring jobs and ruins and Steamers?’
‘You are learning for when things change.’ And there were jobs elsewhere that were skilled or semi-skilled, as Prole children found out when they were old enough. The Partyists did not understand the training and experience that were involved in some of the jobs they dismissed as "all hands no brains." They were also aware that there was what they dismissed as a black market - but was in fact a viable economic system, and had access to more resources than were available to their nominal rulers.
‘How? What are you and your friends doing to change it?’
‘When the time comes you will know. Above all you must learn to remember. Those in the Party are trying to forget - and will not remember what is to be done when the Proles are ready to change things.’
‘Back to the old days before the wars?’
‘That time is gone - and the wars changed things.’
‘And I don’t get the smuggling wheelbarrows joke.’
‘Nor does the Party.’ Which was the point.
‘It’s simple,’ her elder child said. ‘They are looking for the wrong thing and don’t see what is actually being done in front of their eyes.’
‘#I# wouldn’t be so stupid.’
‘#That# is why you are studying.’

****

Goldstein had existed once, and had been a writer. The text bearing his name that circulated amongst the party membership #was# based in some measure on what he had stated.

There was a memo-to-himself which had been long un-remembered by the Party.
‘A society which forgets its past is condemned to repeat itself.’
Of an earlier revising of the Dictionary.
‘As I was going up the stair
I met a man wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
How I wish he would go away.’
Of the Party
‘A fortress with only one way in also has only one way out.’

****

The Party members looked at the Prole delegation with some incomprehension.
They had brought models of the buildings of the chief Ministries: they were doubleplusgood constructed.
As they were the workers, rather than the Party-administrators, they were rebuilding their areas destroyed by Steamers and otherwise, and used models for the purpose rather than written briefs.
Eventually, after much discussion involving those analysts who did have some understanding of Prole culture were able to work out what was on offer.
‘The Proles celebrate the anniversaries of their born-days and other events with gifts.’ Some of which were off-ration: officially tolerated as a minor illegal act but in practice necessary as the Party could not presently so provide. ‘They wish to give Big Brother these gifts on his born-day anniversary, as a token of their love for him and the benefits he has brought them.’
The Party members looked at each other initially with incomprehension and then with horror. The Proles’ sentiment was doubleplusdoublegood: but birthdays implied that Big Brother could grow old... and ...doubleplusungoodThoughtCrime.
And not a single one of the Party members had ever actually seen Big Brother in person. Nor could they think of ways of finding out whether he existed or where. To some extent the person who was called Big Brother was the ultimate unperson - and Goldstein was the ultimate converse.
The Proles repeated the question that was being repeated elsewhere in interactions with the Newspeak-using Party-administration, causing disruption and paralysis, and shifting the balance of power.
‘Take us to your leader.’