What does thoughtcrime mean?

In 1984, thoughtcrime involves the holding of beliefs deemed hostile to the regime. It's not enough for the Party to control how people behave. It must also control how people think. And the authorities use a series of surveillance measures, such as spying on people through telescreens, to detect any signs that they might be harboring seditious thoughts.

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In the dystopian world of 1984 , the Party isn't just concerned with how people act, but how and what they think. In its obsessive desire to control the minds of the citizens of Oceania, the Party is determined to ensure that no one ever harbors dangerous or subversive thoughts...

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In the dystopian world of 1984, the Party isn't just concerned with how people act, but how and what they think. In its obsessive desire to control the minds of the citizens of Oceania, the Party is determined to ensure that no one ever harbors dangerous or subversive thoughts against the regime. Anyone who holds such thoughts is committing a thoughtcrime, which in Oceania is the most serious crime there is.

The seriousness of thoughtcrimes is reflected in the punishment they attract. In the most extreme cases, they can be punished by death. This is why Winston Smith describes himself as “already dead” just after he starts keeping a diary that contains subversive thoughts. Winston is fully aware that he's committing very serious acts of thoughtcrime and knows just how much trouble he'll be in if the Thought Police should catch him.

Although the Party has yet to develop a technique for reading people's minds, it is nonetheless confident that it can detect the presence of thoughtcrime through not just written words and certain patterns of behavior, but even body language. Everyone in Oceania except the proles have to have intrusive telescreens in their homes, through which the Thought Police can spy on people. And from what they observe through the telescreens, the authorities are convinced that they can detect the thinking of subversive thoughts.

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