Scn/1984 parallels - Proles (RVY)
[11 Sep 1997]

On the question if the society in "1984" was "totalistic," I wrote earlier that it was not because there were the "proles".

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From: Robert Vaughn Young <>
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Subject: Scn/1984 parallels - Proles (RVY)
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 13:05:18 -0700
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On the question if the society in "1984" was "totalistic," I wrote earlier
that it was not because there were the "proles." The proles composed 85%
of Oceana and had their own society. I found a segment from "1984" to
explain the proles that I would have included in my reply. It includes a
nice remark about the possibility of revolution within the Party. It is:

"If there was hope, _it must_ lie in the proles, because only there, in
those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population
of Oceana, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generate. The
Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any
enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another.
Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it
was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers
than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of
the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if
only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have
no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like
a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to
pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to
do it. And yet ---! ...

"In reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary
to know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other
activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned
loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life
that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They
were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they
passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they
married at twenty, they were middleaged at thirty, they died, for the most
part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty
quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling
filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not
difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them,
spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few
individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt
was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not
desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. ...The
great majority of proles did not even have telescreens in their homes.
Even the civil police interfered with them very little."

It goes on regarding their world and closes with, "They were beneath
suspicion. As the Party slogan put it: 'Proles and animals are free.'"

Robert Vaughn Young