In Orwell's 1984, what is Ingsoc?

In 1984, Ingsoc is an acronym for English Socialism and the political ideology of the totalitarian state of Oceania. Ingsoc is a state-controlled political system founded on the principles of Newspeak, doublethink, and the mutability of the past, which are designed to manipulate and oppress the citizens of Oceania. The principles promote collectivism and censorship, enabling the Party to establish a completely orthodox society, where every Party member is devoted to Big Brother and subscribes to government propaganda.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In 1984, Ingsoc is an abbreviation of English Socialism, the state ideology of Oceania. The word is described as appearing on a poster before it is explained, but the second time the poster is mentioned, Orwell refers to

the sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past.

It is no accident that the principles of Ingsoc are described as sacred. It is supposed to be an all-encompassing doctrine with the force of a religion. When Winston reads Goldstein's book, it tells him what he already knows, that Ingsoc is inherently self-contradictory, to the point where many of the ideas on which it is founded cannot be stated openly. The important point is that everyone should automatically accept it as true.

This is why Winston understands that Syme, the great expert on Newspeak, and therefore on Ingsoc, is doomed to extermination. In the final analysis, Ingsoc is unimportant as an intellectual system because, when a system of thought is coherent, it is always possible to use it to challenge authority. The Party does not want engaged citizens who think about and test the precepts of Ingsoc but willing slaves who do exactly as they are told. Ultimately, Ingsoc is whatever the Party says it is, and the Party members are encouraged to be automatically orthodox "goodthinkers" rather than adherents of any ideological system.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Orwell's classic novel 1984, Ingsoc is an acronym for English Socialism and the founding political ideology of the Party in the totalitarian nation of Oceania. Ingsoc relies on several sacred principles to control, manipulate, and oppress the population. The primary tenets of Ingsoc are Newspeak, doublethink, and the mutability of the past. The Party attempts to control citizens' thoughts by censoring language, limiting words, and simplifying grammar. Newspeak is designed to restrict any subversive, threatening ideas to ensure the Party's stability and authority. As Syme mentions to Winston,

Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak.

Ingsoc also requires Party members to exercise doublethink, which is the practice of simultaneously believing two contradicting ideas. In other words, doublethink is "reality control" and allows Party members to accept any doctrine, policy, or piece of propaganda without questioning. Ingsoc relies on doublethink to create a completely orthodox nation, where every Party member is utterly devoted to Big Brother.

The third principle of Ingsoc is the mutability of the past. Winston's area of expertise is in this field, and he spends his days rewriting articles to correspond with the Party's current policy. As the Party slogan reads,

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

All three of these tenets of Ingsoc are designed to oppress and manipulate Oceania's population. The authoritarian regime is solely focused on maintaining its position of power and dominating the citizens. Overall, Ingsoc is the founding political ideology of the totalitarian nation of Oceania, where citizens lack individuality and are forced to comply with the government's expectations.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ingsoc is short for English Socialism, and the shortening of the word into two basically meaningless syllables is itself significant. Ingsoc is a word that can mean whatever the Party wants it to mean at any given moment: it has been severed from its historic roots. This aligns with the Party goal of creating a state that can rewrite history as it wills because it completely controls language. As Syme, the Newspeak expert, notes while having lunch with Winston, 

The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak.

By this, Syme means Newspeak is the attempt of the Party to simplify the English language so that the average person will be incapable of all but the most basic kinds of thoughts. This will rid the Party of thought crimes. Therefore, Ingsoc, at its core, is a political ideology that means to rob human beings of the capacity for independent thought so the Party can more easily control them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In George Orwell's 1984, a so-called Socialist revolution joined the territories of the Americas with those of the British Empire and renamed the new area "Oceania." Ingsoc is an acronym for "English Socialism," the political philosophy adopted when the Socialist Party began to rule. However, with a party that kept rewriting the past, it cannot be determined how and when this philosophy was created.

Going farther, Ingsoc establishes that all knowledge, meanings, values, and reality are contained in the Party's tenets. The Party is conceived of as a collective mind that may or may not endorse an individual's existence. In other words, anyone who fails to comply with Party rules will lose existence, whether metaphorically or factually. 

Ingsoc also takes care of class division. The upper class, called the Inner Party, is composed of the rulers (an infinitesimal percentage of the population) and enjoys all kinds of privileges, even the possibility of turning off the persecutory telescreens.

The middle class, called the Outer Party, is subjected to the harshest restrictions and closely watched. The rulers think that this class -the one that, in real past history, rebelled against tyrannical governments and often succeeded in overthrowing them- poses the greatest danger to the regime.

The lower class, or Proles (from "proletariat"), comprises the majority of the population and is, in relative terms, the most carefree. Its members are not under constant surveillance, and are kept "dormant" through booze, free sex, pornography, and other perks. 

Ingsoc also claims that there are no class differences in the system, though in fact class interaction is strongly discouraged and seldom if ever takes place. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team