In George Orwell's 1984, what are the four ways an elite group can fall from power?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In George Orwell's "1984" Winston and Julia have finally met with O'Brien and he has gotten them a copy of "The Book."  Winston begins to read out loud to Julia about the different classes and different levels.  Winston reads that there are four ways the ruling group can fall out of power.  One way is that they are beaten by another country or from without.  A second way they can lose power is that their ability to rule is inefficient and there is a revolt within the group itself.  A third way a group in power falls is that they let a strong Middle group develop and encroach on their power.  The fourth and final way to lose power is to lose their self-confidence or they lose the desire to rule. This is paraphrased from page 208 in my edition of "1984"

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teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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In "The Book," which lays out the nature of power as the Party understands it, the world is divided into three classes, the high, the middle and the low. The elite group is the "high" class. The middle group constantly jockeys to try to become the elite group.

The elite can lose power by first, losing their faith in themselves or, second, by failing to govern efficiently. In response to that second point, failing to govern efficiently, the middle aligns with the low group to overthrow the elite, and the middle takes over, cutting the low group off as soon as they have achieved power. 

A third way the elite loses power is through being conquered by a foreign power. Finally, the elite loses power by allowing a strong, discontented middle group to develop, which displaces it. "The Book" outlines these four methods of power loss as follows:

There are only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power. Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own selfconfidence and willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree. A ruling class which could guard against all of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.

According to "The Book," the elite has now protected itself permanently from these historical cycles, meaning it will be perpetually in power. 

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