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Quote 1984

on Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:23 am
“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

This quote represents the hopelessness of the situation for Winston and those who are wishing of a rebellion from the proles to overthrow the totalitarian Party. The first part of the quote says that until the proles become conscious of the situation they live in the won't rebel because they don't have any standards for the quality of life. The second part says that they can’t obtain standards of life because they haven’t rebelled to be able to see them. This creates a vicious circle that stops the proles from taking actions. That vicious circle exists in 1984’s society because history books don’t exist or have been falsified by the Party. If they existed, the proles and even party members could compare their current life in a totalitarian regime to the life of those that lived in previous capitalist societies that possessed much more freedom than anything they’ve ever seen. That would make them conscious and therefore able to rebel. After all, one cannot complain about something if he doesn’t have anything to compare it with. That is the beauty of our current society, our capability to complain because we can compare. We have history books, and relative freedom to choose how we want to live. However, this raises the question if our society has certain conditions of life that are horrible but that are so different from anything else the world has ever seen that we can't compare them to it and therefore we do not complain.
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Response to your analysis!

on Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:43 am
Hi Laurent! I agree with your analysis and you actually analysed one of my favourite quotes from Nineteen-Eighty Four! After discussing with some other people about this quote, I learned that there’s in fact a term to describe the paradoxical situation you mention in your analysis. The term is denominated as a Catch-22, meaning a situation where one is trapped by contradictory conditions. Indeed, the perpetual incapability for the proles to rebel against the Party is a Catch-22. On one hand, the proles will never rebel until they understand that they are oppressed by the Party. However, on the other hand they will never learn that they are oppressed by the Party as long as the Party is still in power, because the Party falsifies and modifies their own history to keep the proles ignorant. Accordingly, it is very paradoxical...

Furthermore, I appreciate that to conclude your analysis, you questioned our society about the possibility of us having horrible living conditions that we only accept because there is nothing to compare them to. I wanted to further elaborate on this point: I believe that there are many questionable situations, ubiquitous in modern times that we oddly do not question for the simple reason I presume that we do not really know any better. For example, in Canada, if an individual’s salary increases, so do their taxes. Hence, we are caught in this vicious cycle of gaining more money, but then losing more money as well.

Sources: "Catch-22", N.P. 2017. N.A Nov 15 2017. Web. <>
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