In Orwell's classic novel 1984, Winston Smith lives in the dystopian, totalitarian nation of Oceania, where the government controls virtually every aspect of society and severely restricts personal freedoms. In order to control and oppress the population, the Party relies on various methods of manipulation, fear, and intimidation. In addition to cultivating a hysterical, oppressive environment, the government also relies upon citizens' ignorance to remain in power. One of the Party's three slogans is IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, which alludes to the important practice of doublethink. By utilizing doublethink, Party members can believe two contradicting ideas simultaneously and remain purposely ignorant to the truth. Winston contemplates an example of widespread ignorance when Orwell writes,
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed— if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. (Orwell, 44)
The entire population of Oceania remains completely ignorant by exercising doublethink and accepting the Party's blatant lie regarding its alliance with Eurasia.
In book 2, chapter 9, Winston and the entire population of Oceania participate in Hate Week, where they shout and direct their rage towards Eurasia, which is the country Oceania is currently at war with. Suddenly, an announcement is made, and Orwell writes,
...when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces—at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally. (228)
Despite rallying against Eurasia and participating in the Hate Week affairs directed at their enemy, the entire population reveals their ignorance by passively accepting the announcement and switching their political alliance. This massive display of ignorance reveals the primary way the Party is able to maintain its power. The population is willing to accept every lie and exercise ignorance by purposely rejecting the truth and practicing doublethink.