Why does Goldstein say that, although the superpowers talk about total victory, no power believes it is possible or even desirable?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Goldstein explains that Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia are in constant conflict, but each nation understands that they can never completely annihilate the others. Although they are in constant gridlock, the nations continually fight over disputed territory and boundaries. While minor victories are won on the periphery of each nation, the possibility of total victory is impossible. Each nation is too massive and has too many people and natural resources for the others to completely obliterate it. Also, none of the superpowers even attempts a maneuver which involves the risk of serious defeat. Goldstein explains that continuous warfare is necessary for the ruling elite to maintain a certain psychological atmosphere and consume the surplus of goods. Essentially, the goal of war is to keep the structure of society intact. Therefore, the ruling elite does not wish for territorial gains or an opportunity to plunder and vanquish their enemies, but rather to control their own population. Since there is no possibility of total victory, the effects of the continuous war would be the same as continuous peace. Hence the Party slogan, "WAR IS PEACE."

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Goldstein makes the argument that the superpowers are more interested in control than in power.  For Goldstein, the purpose of "is to use the surplus of consumer products without raising the standard of living for everyone."  This motiveless notion of war is one in which the desire for control is the only element that matters to those in the position of power.  War is not fought for anything other than control and the consolidation of power.  For Goldstein, victory means that war is over.  In its absence, power dissipates.  Goldstein recognizes that "war is the health of the state."  

Goldstein's primary purpose to discuss how the superpowers fail to acknowledge the possibility and realistic element of peace is meant to indicate how war is a construction of power.  It is not for national security as much as it is an understanding in which those in the position of power see war as a way to continue and advance their claims on power.  With war as an exercise for power, the notion of victory is not the most important, reflecting the futility intrinsic to it.

mindysaywhat | Student

The war is simply a fact of life that enables the ruling party to keep the masses ignorant. This brings a new meaning to the words "War is Peace"