For what reason does Goldstein say that it is important for an artificial scarcity of goods to exist?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Goldstein presents a number of reasons for why it is important to have an artificial scarcity of goods.  

One reason is that the scarcity of goods helps to further cement a hierarchy of social classes.  "But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society."  That reason works.  If there is supposedly a scarcity of goods, then only the wealthy are likely to have the money and access to them.  It creates a society of "have and have nots."  

Another reason is that it helps to keep the prices inflated.  That is basic economics at work.  With a limited supply, the price of items is driven up.  The demand for those items might be high, but because the supply is so low, a manufacturer can keep prices high.  The DeBeers family diamond company does this.  Diamonds are quite a common stone, but the available supply is severely limited, so the price is driven up.  

A third reason for Goldstein's artificial scarcity is that it keeps the workers working.  If the population believes that their current efforts are barely keeping up with demand, then they are likely to continue working to meet that demand.  They see a purpose and a need for their work.  

Goldstein's solution for how to create artificial scarcity is an interesting one. War.  Continuous war.  War allows for manufacturing procedures to be operating at 100% while at the same time consuming those goods at an equally alarming pace. The goods are either being used immediately or destroyed because of the "war."  

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer this question, take a look at Part Two, Chapter Nine. According to the text of Goldstein's book, the Party deliberately makes sure that goods, including food and drink, are always in scarcity, or short supply. As Goldstein argues, there are two reasons for doing this.

Firstly, keeping goods in short supply "increases the importance of small privileges." Because Party members live in the atmosphere of a "besieged city," where goods are considered to be a luxury, having access to even the smallest of goods makes a Party member appreciate its value. In other words, the possession of goods creates a distinction between being rich and being poor. Party members feel wealthy even though they have very little.

Secondly, the scarcity of goods is important in creating distinctions between social classes. The Inner Party members, for example, have luxury apartments and a private car. This sets them apart from the other Party members who do not possess such luxuries.

A scarcity of goods, therefore, maintains the distinction between those who rule Oceania and those who do not.