What is the meaning of this quote? "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows." How is this quote related to the "2+2=5" idea?

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Winston Smith lives in the dystopian nation of Oceania, where the totalitarian government controls nearly every aspect of society through effective propaganda, extensive surveillance, fear, and manipulation. Newspeak, doublethink, and the mutability of the past are the primary principles of Ingsoc, which enable the regime to oppress and control the...

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Winston Smith lives in the dystopian nation of Oceania, where the totalitarian government controls nearly every aspect of society through effective propaganda, extensive surveillance, fear, and manipulation. Newspeak, doublethink, and the mutability of the past are the primary principles of Ingsoc, which enable the regime to oppress and control the entire population. By utilizing these three principles, Big Brother effectively controls reality and creates a narrative that corresponds to the regime's current policies. Doublethink is the difficult mental exercise that allows a person to simultaneously believe two contradicting ideas. In order to be completely orthodox, Party members must be able to exercise doublethink, which allows them to fully accept and believe anything the government says.

In addition to doublethink, the Party continually alters the past and even fabricates events and people to coincide with their current political agenda. Between the mutability of the past and doublethink, the Party effectively controls reality as well as human history. Citizens have no way of challenging the regime and cannot prove that the Party is lying or manipulating the population without a point of reference. Since the Party controls reality, they can state that two plus two equals five, which is an illogical concept. However, the orthodox population will digest the information using doublethink and believe it without question. In his secret diary, Winston writes,

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

Essentially, Winston is saying that freedom is the ability to use logic against the Party and refuse to exercise doublethink. By rejecting doubethink, Party members would be acting independently, embracing their humanity, and freeing themselves from the oppressive regime. If citizens were to reject Big Brother's propaganda, they would easily rebel against the Party and change the culture of Oceania.

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The idea presented in this quote is that freedom means being able to interpret the facts of the world around you for yourself. You can look at the equation 2+2 and rightly deduce for yourself the answer. In other words, you are allowed the freedom to make your own decisions, come to the right conclusions, and rely on your own senses. In the world of the novel, Big Brother controls all the information. Because of this, there is no freedom to discern the truth.

In the context of the novel, the phrase “2+2=5” is used to represent the lies the government is propagating on the people. While it is self evident that the result of that equation is 4, the government has forced upon the citizens their version of the truth—that the answer is 5. So, Winston is saying that freedom is the ability to make your own conclusions, even when the government doesn’t want you to know the truth.

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In Oceania, only the Party gets to decide what's true and what isn't. If the Party says that 2+2=5, then it is. The truth as understood by all sane, rational individuals—that 2+2 is actually four—is subversive because it challenges the power of the Party to construct truth and reality for all its subjects. Stating that 2+2=4 is an expression of freedom, because it shows that individuals are using their capacity to think for themselves, to get to the truth of the matter without the assistance of the Party. Once people start thinking for themselves, they don't need the Party to think for them. This makes them dangerous, a serious threat to the Party's total grip on power. For once the people realize that the truth exists independently of the Party's perspective, there'll be a domino effect, with all other aspects of the one-party state called into question. Then it can only be a matter of time before the Party loses power.

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This quote is taken from Part One, Chapter Seven of 1984 when Winston is talking about the nature of the Party's power over the people of Oceania. He tells us that the Party insist that people "reject the evidence of your ears and eyes" and to believe only what Big Brother tells you to believe. In other words, the Party controls how people interpret truth and reality. So, for Winston, being able to say that two plus two equals four is significant because it represents true freedom and the ability to say whatever one wants to say without fear of violence.

The idea that two plus two equals five is also linked to this concept of true freedom. It suggests that people are so brainwashed by the Party that they will believe anything they are told, even something which is obviously wrong, like that two plus two equals five. By accepting the Party's version of truth, people are forced to give up their freedom, and this is how the Party maintains absolute power.

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In the book, the party is trying to force people to see it as the only source of truth.  It manipulates and changes the truth so that people don't have any way to know what's real.  It's in this context that you need to think of this quote.

The quote comes at the end of Part 1, Chapter 7.  Winston is thinking that the Party is too strong for him to oppose.  But then he thinks that as long as he can hold onto a truth like 2+2=4 then he has a foundation of reality and can resist the Party's attempts to tell him lies.

The connection to the other equation is that later on when Winston is being tortured, he is reminded of this diary entry and is tortured to try to push him toward being able to see that 2+2=5 (which would mean that he would be giving up any hope of having an independent mind).

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