In 1984, why is the state of paranoia so important to the Party's system of control?

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Paranoia is the best way to control the masses because they are more likely to accept oppressive rules and breaches of personal freedoms if they believe they will be safer otherwise. This overwhelming fear is what causes the people to accept a totalitarian government or inspires people to spy on their own family members and friends. The Party feeds their fears and convinces them that only drastic measures will save them from enemy spies and death at the hands of invaders out to bomb their homes into rubble.

In 1984, the Party keeps the public in a constant state of paranoia through propaganda regarding enemy nations out to invade and destroy Oceania, as well as via strategic bomb droppings said to be the work of enemy soldiers, keeping the people terrified of terrorist attacks. However, Orwell leaves little hints that the other nations might not be invading and that the dreaded revolutionary Emmanuel Goldstein might not even exist. Both could be manufactures of the Party in order to create boogeymen that keep the people afraid and under state control. And in creating a boogeyman to fear, the state makes itself the solution to the problem by acting as a defender against everything Goldstein represents.

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Paranoia is an essential element of the Party's control over the citizens of Oceania. If people constantly think that someone's out to get them, they get frightened. And if they get frightened, they'll look for somebody to protect them. This will lead citizens to turn to the Party to provide them with protection in a harsh, unforgiving world. A general state of paranoia also makes people intensely suspicious of everyone around them, even close friends and family members. Every person you meet as part of your daily life could be a government spy or informer. You daren't say anything remotely controversial in case you end up being tortured, imprisoned, or even vaporized. In a totalitarian state like Oceania, no one is able to trust anyone else. That leaves just one individual in whom you can have any hope or confidence: Big Brother.

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The state of paranoia throughout Oceania creates a sense of anxiety, fear, and hysteria among the citizens, which benefits the Party by making the population easier to control. The Party continually uses military propaganda, economic scarcity, and presence of surveillance systems to ensure that the population lives in fear. The enigmatic presence of the Thought Police, the numerous telescreens, and posters of Big Brother serve as constant reminders that the citizens are continually being watched. The Party also publicly executes dissidents to demonstrate what happens to individuals who attempt to challenge the Party. The citizens, particularly the Party members, live in constant fear that they will be arrested for being or appearing to be unorthodox.

In addition to the public executions, bombs are strategically dropped throughout the city to create a tense, dangerous atmosphere. Along with strategically dropped bombs, the Party continually shows videos of Emmanuel Goldstein's face and enemy troops marching into Oceania. Videos are not only shown in the market square but also during the daily Two Minutes Hate. Institutions like the Junior Spies and Thought Police enhance the paranoia and citizens do not know who they can trust because everyone is a potential government agent. Essentially, the Party creates a dangerous environment where citizens fear being executed, tortured in the Ministry of Love, or sent to a concentration camp for challenging the government. Citizens of Oceania live under constant surveillance, are surrounded by government agents, and are continually shown footage of approaching armies. As a result of the paranoia, citizens fear the Party and do not dare to challenge Big Brother or question the government's agenda.

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In 1984, paranoia is fundamental to the Party's system of control because it acts as a deterrent against breaking rules. When Winston first encounters the "dark-haired girl" (Julia), for instance, his paranoia is immediately apparent: he thinks she is a spy and he fantasizes about hurting her. In reality, Julia likes him and wants to have a relationship, even though this is against Party rules. Winston's paranoia, therefore, stops him from realizing her true feelings and, by default, from breaking this rule about forming relationships (until Part Two of the book, anyway).

Similarly, the Party uses children to maintain control through paranoia. This is shown in Part One, Chapter Two, when Winston visits his neighbors, the Parsons. The Parsons children are zealous supporters of the Party and, like other children in Oceania, are keen to report anyone who commits thoughtcrime. As Winston comments, there are countless stories in the press of children who have reported their own parents, which has created a climate of domestic paranoia and fear which keeps such parents in check:

It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children.

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