What does Winston mean when he says, “The proles are human beings. We are not human.” How does the age difference between Julia and Winston affect their beliefs?
Winston recognizes that the proles have certain freedoms that Party members do not have and can express themselves in certain ways that Party members cannot. Unlike Party members, proles are not constantly under surveillance and are not required to attend government functions. They are free to engage in relationships with the people they choose and do not live in constant fear of the government. In contrast, Party members live restricted lives under the constant watch of government agents. Party members are forced to appear and act completely orthodox or else risk being arrested and tortured in the Ministry of Love. They are not free to love whoever they choose and must suppress their negative feelings at all times. In this sense, Party members do not enjoy typical, free lives like the proles, which is why Winston does not consider Party members human beings.
In regards to how the age difference between Winston and Julia affects their beliefs, she is less concerned with undermining the political system of Oceania and more focused on having a good time disobeying the strict rules of society. Winston is more concerned with understanding and challenging the entire government of Oceania. While Julia enjoys having an affair to fulfill her suppressed sexual desires, Winston views their first sexual encounter as a political act.
When Winston says that "the Proles are human beings," he means that they are not subject to the same restrictions as Party members. Specifically, they are not subjected to the constant, invasive monitoring of the telescreens or hidden microphones. They are not brainwashed by propaganda nor by the Party's constant rewriting of the past. Moreover, the Proles are free to marry whomever they choose, drink in pubs, and gamble. In other words, the Proles control and dictate their pace of life. For Winston, this means that they have retained some measure of humanity which no longer exists in Party members.
The age difference between Winston and Julia plays a significant role in their beliefs. Because he is much older than Julia, Winston can remember what life was like before the Party came to power. In contrast, Julia has only ever known life under Party rule. As a result, Winston's beliefs lead him to want to recapture the past, a past in which people, like his mother, were free to form their own loyalties with others. Notice that Julia does not understand or share this belief. Instead, she wants physical freedom and escape, as shown by her strong sense of sexuality.