George are constantly rewriting Oceania’s history, as

George Orwell built upon existing ideals and political systems to create the political ideology Ingsoc for his novel ‘1984’. Discover what Ingsoc is and its significance within the book, then test your knowledge with a quiz.


You’ve probably heard some type of reference to George Orwell‘s super famous novel 1984 at some point in your life. After all, the novel is so well-known that its fictional language, Newspeak, and its creepy political slogans have crept into our vocabulary since its publication in 1949. The novel itself is often interpreted as a critique of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.

It follows Winston Smith, a government employee who lives in Airstrip One, formerly Great Britain. Airstrip One is part of the supercontinent Oceania, which is run by the English Socialist Party and represented by Big Brother, a mustached dictator who may or may not be real. So let’s forge ahead: What exactly is Ingsoc, and what role does it play in the novel?

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The Philosophies of Ingsoc

George Orwell crafted an entire backstory and built an entire world for his novel 1984 that includes the political ideology known as Ingsoc, which is Newspeak for English Socialism, the reigning philosophy of the authoritarian regime in Oceania. Newspeak, to backtrack a bit, is the fictional language Orwell crafted specifically for use in this novel.

Newspeak and Ingsoc go perfectly together, as they both are designed to remove independence and free thought from Oceanians.Ingsoc is constantly changing throughout the novel, because the powers that be are constantly rewriting Oceania’s history, as well as the history of the Party’s rise to power. But a few things never go away.

First, Ingsoc is built upon a vast system of psychological control over citizens. The party wants nothing more than to squash any form of independence. This is where Newspeak is useful, because Newspeak as a language has eliminated most negative words in an attempt to eliminate all negative thoughts toward the party and Ingsoc. Newspeak also simplifies all thought by simplifying words. For example, the word ‘great’ becomes ‘doubleplusgood.’Second, Ingsoc demands the complete submission of all citizens. The party will go to great lengths to achieve complete submission, and torture is common.

We’ve already seen how Newspeak contributes to this, but what else is there? Well, the Inner Party, those tip-top-level bureaucrats who run the show behind the scenes, use the Ministry of Truth, or MiniTrue, in order to put forth the best propaganda and brainwash Oceanians. They also use MiniLuv, or the Ministry of Love, the torturers, to gain complete control. Another such device of control is perhaps one of the Inner Party’s best ideas yet: Big Brother.

Big Brother

All the tenets of Ingsoc are personified by Big Brother, the guy with the mustache who, as the slogan says, ‘… Is Watching You.

‘ It’s never clarified whether or not Big Brother is actually a real person, or whether he’s been invented by the Inner Party. Pretty scary stuff, right? It’s no wonder the citizens of Oceania wander around in a constant state of paranoia and oppression. But they’re also trained to view Big Brother’s constant presence as reassuring, caring, and necessary for their protection, just like you’d want your big brother to be. And this slogan is no empty threat, either. Whether or not Big Brother is real, citizens are under constant surveillance. Everyone has cameras and video screens inside their homes that allow the government to constantly keep eyes on them. And if, at any time, someone is thought to be misbehaving, the police will be quick to respond.

Ingsoc in the Real World

Remnants of 1984 can be seen to this day. Some of the words from Newspeak, as well as some of the slogans and phrases used by the Ingsoc Party are very much in use. For example, have you ever heard someone refer to the government or a particular political figure as Big Brother? People also use the term ‘Orwellian’ to describe a situation that conjures the dystopian world of the novel. Remember when it was discovered that the NSA was listening in on phone conversations? The word ‘Orwellian’ was definitely used to describe that situation. The Newspeak words ‘doublethink’ and ‘thoughtcrime’ also remain in our vocabulary.

‘Doublethink’ means believing two contradictory ideas. In the novel, ‘thoughtcrime’ refers to thinking bad things about Ingsoc or Big Brother.

Lesson Summary

In 1949, George Orwell published his novel 1984, which follows its protagonist Winston Smith as he awakens to the terrible nature of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. The Party rules Oceania, a supercontinent, through frequent torture, brainwashing propaganda, and plenty of surveillance, especially in the form of a possibly-fictional character named Big Brother, who is proclaimed is watching all citizens. Newspeak, a language that embodies concepts like being told lies by the Ministry of Truth and being tortured by the Ministry of Love dovetails with the ideology of Ingsoc.

Both are designed to remove independence and free thought from Oceanians. Many of the ideas and terms utilized throughout the novel are still very much in our vocabulary to this day.


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