In 1984, why does the Party want power?

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The key scene, where we learn of the Party's true motivation, can be found in the third chapter of book 3. There we discover the true nihilistic calculus that drives the Party's policies of suppression and domination.

Ultimately, the Party has no interest in justifying its actions, nor does it see any need to. For O'Brien, the party seeks to assert domination over people simply because it can, and because it wishes to. This desire to dominate and control: this is itself the motivation driving the Party to act as it does. This is an insight which O'Brien expresses himself, when he tells Winston to "imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever." That image serves to express the true face of the Party (and more broadly speaking, the nature of totalitarianism itself).

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In Part Three, Chapter Three of 1984, when Winston is being tortured in the Ministry of Love, O'Brien explains to Winston why the Party wants power:

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake."

This surprises Winston because he expects O'Brien to repeat the Party's official line: that it seeks power for the "good of the majority" because people are "frail" and "cowardly creatures" who cannot rule themselves. This is what the Party tells the people of Oceania and how it justifies its totalitarian style of government.

In contrast, as O'Brien confirms, the Party seeks power purely for the sake of having power. It does not want to improve people's lives, to make the world better or even to make itself rich and famous. It wants nothing but control over other "human beings," to create the "laws of Nature" and to be "masters of the universe." For the Party, power is the key to immortality.

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The party wants power because with the accumulation of power comes the complete control and manipulation of its population. The party collects and exerts power in many different ways. Through the manipulation of language, the two minute hate, the spying--everything is for the accumulation of power. please refer to the enotes theme page.

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