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Who is Winston Smith? Why is he important?

“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”
Who is Winston Smith? Why is he important?
Winston Smith, a minority of one.

Winston Smith is the main protagonist of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. 1984, first published in 1949, is about an alternative vision of the future where a brutal system of totalitarianism has prevailed over modern democracy and its associated liberal freedoms.

The world is now divided into three mega states: Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania. Perpetual warfare keeps the world in a constant state of fear, apprehension and distraction.

Winston resides on an island called Landing Strip One (previously the United Kingdom) that is a part of Oceania and ruled by the English Socialism Party which we may liken to the system of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


The English Socialism Party is translated as IngSoc in “Newspeak”. Newspeak is IngSoc’s evolving attempt to distill the current language by removing, banning or shortening unnecessary words and redefining others. This limits free speech, promotes a narrowing of thought and awareness of its citizens.

The CCP has adopted the use of simplified Chinese Mandarin in the People's Republic of China (PRC) while the liberal democracy of Taiwan continues to use the nuance-rich traditional Chinese Mandarin.

Newspeak will obsolete all other language before 2050.

IngSoc’s fictional leader Big Brother is watching through a comprehensive surveillance state. People knowingly have ‘telescreens’ (cameras) in their homes, work and public spaces that monitor every movement, conversation and interpreted intent. Telescreens also act as indoctrination tools by projecting audible IngSoc propaganda announcements. To compound this, each morning citizens must engage in the two minutes of daily hate where they are subjected to incendiary images of the enemy and traitors of the state.

I recommend spending one minute to review the content in the CCP's online propaganda site The Global Times to see daily hate in action. During the daily hate, it is required to publicly vent pure fury and vitriol during this time (the telescreens are watching).

Big Brother Xi and the nefarious use of surveillance (including TikTok). Personal data is mined to further perpetuate AI algorithms for mind manipulation. The desired outcome is to control our cognitive liberty. Art by Badiucao.

Big Brother and IngSoc utilise their four ministries to maintain their grip on absolute power:

  • Truth (propaganda)
  • Love (a concentration camp)
  • Peace (warfare)
  • Plenty (economics)


Any personal or political thought or action not deemed appropriate by Big Brother is considered Thoughtcrime. The Thought Police, a secret domestic security force, identify those citizens that commit Thoughtcrime and disappear them. The citizen’s records are vaporised and it is taboo to mention their name. They simply never existed. Perhaps thirty such people personally known to Winston, including his parents, have disappeared this way.

To survive, the people of Oceania censor themselves though Thoughtcrime cannot be concealed forever. It is a subservient, craven and hopeless existence for many. State collaborators will be rewarded. Challengers, identified through their action or lack of, will be punished. The objective of Newspeak is to make Thoughtcrime literally impossible and so citizens will not even know how to challenge the state anymore.


Winston works for the Times newspaper at the Ministry of Truth and is an Outer Party member of Ingsoc. We may liken the Outer Party to the PRC government (a different entity to the CCP). Winston’s job, alongside many others at the Records Department is to constantly censor the news and to doctor history in line with an Inner Party approved version of the past. The Inner Party are those in real power and may be likened to The CCP (who sit above the Chinese government).

To change one’s mind, or even one’s policy, is considered a weakness and the illusion of the omnipotency of Big Brother and the infallibility of the Inner Party must be maintained. Inappropriate versions of the past are sent to the memory hole to be devoured by flames and scrubbed from existence (1984 was written pre-internet).

All affected records are then updated to reflect the change e.g. books, newspapers, movies, cartoons, music and posters. Basically anything that may hold any ideological or political significance. Any unbanned, creative, cultural output of society that remains has since lost its original meaning.

The "wumao" or 50 cent army are millions of internet commentators employed by the CCP to post messages in line with CCP propaganda. These are backed up by the hyper nationalistic "ziganwu" bloggers. Young zealots that were raised on a patriotic education that promotes hatred for the West. Wholesale changes that often conflict with reality were made to the PRC education system after the 1989 Tiananmen Square bloodbath. The very existence of liberal democracies delegitimises the CCP's existence hence the pre-programmed hatred.

Our memories of the past are not static. They are based on the last time we remembered a particular memory. Memories then shift from their original content over time when they are recalled. When memories are recalled more often, they shift even further. We have crudely observed this phenomenon as children when we play the “telephone game” or “Chinese whispers”. As adults, when we exaggerate a story in our social circles, we often have our friends to keep us in check which may also shift the memory closer back to its original form. You caught a sea bass my friend, not a blue marlin.

In Oceania, telescreens (likened to mobile phones) and their announcements are generally unable to be muted or turned off. The announcements simultaneously recall society’s memories and all those memories shift uniformly to follow IngSoc’s (the CCP's) version. Although laws no longer exist in Oceania (similar to both the PRC's lawfare and rule by law where legal decisions are made by the CCP), independently kept records are punishable by death. And as all other records of the event are amended, the past is not only mutable, it is permanently destroyed.

IngSoc control the past, the present and the future. Future alternatives to the status quo are doubtful as the fear of consequence i.e. to be disappeared, is too great. Mindless adherence and obedience keep the people safe and so the cycle of control remains unbreakable.

Xi, the pied piper of totalitarianism. Art by Badiucao.


Winston concludes that in his job, he is simply substituting one piece of nonsense for another. Lies built upon falsifications supported by pillars of fabrications. As all that exists is lies, and communication with the people of Eastasia or Eurasia being impossible, then those lies become the only accepted truths. Everything fades into mist. Winston receives his orders in Newspeak that also incorporates the concept of Doublethink. Doublethink could be considered as hypocrisy that is publicly acceptable.

Doublethink means the power to hold two contradicting beliefs in one’s mind and accepting both of them. It is similar but not identical to cognitive dissonance which involves the inability to resolve two contradictory ideas. The idea creates assumed associations between contradictions that make a nonsensical notion palatable. IngSoc maxims even represent this malleability of objective fact in that:

Ignorance is Strength, War is Peace and Freedom is Slavery!

The Ministry of Truth knows best.

Life for the typical proletariat (which we may liken to a PRC citizen without CCP/government connections) and Outer Party worker is surveilled, controlled and lacking in liberty. Activity promoting or protecting the Inner Party is encouraged. Anything else is either considered irrelevant or may be interpreted as Thoughtcrime.

Sex for both the Outer and Inner Party is banned (similar to the dystopian one child policy that the CCP forced upon the PRC in 1980). Reproduction is by artificial insemination (to ensure population growth) and children are bought up in institutions to indoctrinate them from an early age. This is happening in the PRC today and is sometimes done against the will of the parents as we found in a previous post about Daisies.

Children then join further state organised groups to continue indoctrination. Beginning with The Spies, then The Youth League and the Junior Anti-Sex league to encourage informing the Thought Police of any family Thoughtcrime.

It is abundantly clear that that opportunities for the best life are reserved for those in the Inner Party (CCP). For Winston, it is opaque on how this cabal operates as their machinations are a mystery. Winston begins to question, daydreams and remembers the world when he was younger before IngSoc had a vice like grip on society.

The Book

Winston treacherously starts to keep his own journal and begins a dangerous affair with Julia, a co-worker and co-conspirator. The two meet when they are able, rent a room from the proletariat shopkeeper of an old antique store and vow never to betray each other. They discuss the future, enjoy the simple trivialities of how life should be and make love under a picture of St. Clements Church as much as possible. In Oceania (like the PRC), atheism is compulsory in practice. Winston contemplates a future without Big Brother with freedoms and liberties.

Through a brief interaction with a member of the Inner Party (O’Brien) at the daily hate, Winston’s contemplations change to genuine hope. He views O’Brien as a true ally that is key in changing the future for the better.

Winston is truly convinced that they are able to emancipate the controlled people through revolution. O’brien shares further hope via The Book from Emmanuel Goldstein. The Book may have been little and red too. Goldstein is a traitor to IngSoc, the principal enemy of the state and leader of “the Brotherhood”.

We may liken Emmanuel Goldstein to Hu Yaobang, a CCP reformer that triggered the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests after his "surprise and sudden heart attack". These peaceful protests nearly bought democratic freedom to the PRC if it were not for the military tanks, bayonets and hollow point bullets that were utilised to crush the unarmed protesters.

The Brotherhood aim to destroy IngSoc and their way of life. Once Winston and Julia have read The Book, they are considered Brotherhood members. At a minimum, The Brotherhood is an indestructible idea and this provides purpose to Winston’s life.

Perversely, O’brien and the shopkeeper were both agents of the Thought Police and so had tricked Winston into revealing his true intent and disloyalty to Big Brother. There was indeed a telescreen behind the picture of St. Clements Church in their rented room. Winston and Julia are arrested and then sent to the Ministry of Love for “reintegration”. Winston endures weeks of intense mental, physical and emotional torture by O’Brien to learn, understand and accept that IngSoc will rule forever. Forever.

The Ministry of Love

After weeks of anguish and agony, Winston is shown a reflection of himself in a three sided mirror by O’Brien. He is a Gollum-like creature, grey coloured, filthy, bowed and weak. He is now partially bald, red scars and varicose ulcers line his body. He appears to have aged 30 years, his knees are thicker than his thighs and his spinal cord is visible like a protruding, knotted rope. He is rotting away and to highlight this, O’Brien pulls out the a large tuft of Winston’s thinning hair. With his thumb and forefinger, O’Brien then wrenches out from the root, one of the last remaining teeth from Winston’s skull.

Winston in The Ministry of Love: Room 101.

Winston had argued throughout the torture that humanity will save society from the evils of IngSoc. O’Brien makes it clear to Winston that he is the last guardian of the human spirit. The Inner Party has broken that last bastion of hope physically, mentally and permanently. No one was left to speak for Winston.

“I have not betrayed Julia”, Winston finally says to O’Brien. O’Brien agrees. Winston is then sent to Room 101 where his true phobia is realised.

A cage is put over his head and famished rats are put at the entrance door to the cage. The scurrying grey rodents will eat Winston alive through his eyes, tongue and face. O’Brien teases the door open slightly and the excited rats scramble in an attempt to enter. In a desperate, crazed plea, he screams, “DO IT TO JULIA!”.

Winston is now fully and irreversibly broken and he finally learns to truly love Big Brother. It is made clear to Winston that he will never know if the Brotherhood or any indication of true hope exists or not. This riddle will haunt him until his death.

Inevitably, the power of the Inner Party was too strong and complete. The tools and options of the people were now so weak that Winston, or anyone else, was doomed to fail. Against the odds and the risks he faced and endured, Winston was brave and driven in his pursuit, he was just born too late to make any difference.

The overlap with how IngSoc and the CCP operates is clear, especially when we also cross reference the purposes of the Ministries of Truth, Love and Peace. To ensure their own survival, it was the CCP's ideological abandonment of communism and the embrace of state-focussed, mercantilist, capitalism in the early 1980s that makes the Ministry of Plenty comparison now less relevant. In this respect, the economic component of society is more like Aldous Huxley’s ideas in “A Brave New World”.


Xi Jinping and the CCP wield immense, uncontested power within the PRC and are intent on absolute power to monitor and control their subjects and future subjects. Online discussion and news is censored or certain words are banned. The CCP have famously stated that they themselves will define what communism means. Newspeak.

Propaganda that is proven to be incorrect or inappropriate is scrubbed from the internet by the state. Known dissidents in the PRC are disappeared. Those outside of the PRC, their families back home are threatened. Thoughtcrime.

A CCP member must believe simultaneously in Marxist/Leninist/socialist values and the goal of a classless society whilst strategising economic growth and a widening wealth divide. Doublethink.

As we noted, the mega wealthy are more likely to be CCP members that have taken advantage of their positions through corruption and privilege. Privately, they manage their huge investment portfolios. Publicly, they regurgitate Xi Jinping Thought (three tomes of the works of Xi Jinping that has since been made part of the constitution).

The CCP begin to indoctrinate children from the age of 6-14 through a mass youth organisation called The Young Pioneers of China. The Young Pioneers motto is “To struggle for the cause of communism.”. Their pledge, “I will love the Communist Party of China.”. Their song is not, “Hey teachers, leave those kids alone”, but “We are the heirs of communism.”. Children are very easily influenced and eight years of “struggling” for the causes of communism and harmonising with the theme tune affects their identity.

From ages 14 until 28, the influenced children go onto join The Communist Youth League of China. Ostensibly, this background is a strong driver to full CCP membership and privilege. There is a CCP faction called the Tuanpai who originated from The Youth League.

Essentially, the CCP have mentally readied their population using psychological war and have identified “foreign powers” as the enemy. Hegemony will be sought by first finishing consolidation of an Eastasia-like territory and thereafter to extend their power outside of these borders. It is happening now.

Time is running out before a totalitarian lock takes our cognitive liberty and the normalisation creep of the CCP's activity is on your shores, the space above you and in the places you hold most dear.

The passing of the superpower torch has happened numerous times throughout history. Occasionally peacefully, mostly violently. Broadly, the centuries have been dominated by a single power; Portugal in the 15th, Habsburg Spain in the 16th, The Dutch Republic in the 17th, the Kingdom of France in the 18th, England in the 19th and the United States of America in the 20th.

So why is it a problem that the CCP should lead the 21st century? Easy and simple.

The system of totalitarianism of the CCP is overall, worse for societies, humanity and the environment when compared to the current, competing system of liberal democracy of the USA and its allies. If the CCP totalitarian system prevails, your family, future family and yourself will be less free, less happy with less opportunities.

History’s most successful colonisers/conquerors utilised non-military specialists to study the culture, learn the language to then take advantage of a country’s resources, weaknesses and strengths. The CCP have applied these lessons. The various networks and groups of their machine such as The United Front have been analysing its enemies for decades and comprehensively continue to do so as you read.

Conversely, the CCP are generally “radio silent” in regard to information about themselves. From their perspective, being open and transparent provides the enemy with an advantage. A true cold war mentality. Taking this further, disinformation provides the enemy with a disadvantage. This approach obfuscates, negatively affecting policy and downstream decision making from misguided governments. From an individual level, the approach provides a conveniently inaccurate snapshot of the CCP where a predator poses as a house pet. There is a common mantra from CCP members, “You don’t understand China.” This is really a form of psychological projection as the CCP do not want you to understand their true intents for domination.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.” - Sun Tzu, Art of War.

1China84: We are Winston Smith

Winston Smith is the last man. He knows he is the last guardian of the human spirit and that we was too late.

Winston Smith: An ordinary man who made a valiant effort in extraordinary circumstances.

The thematic chapters of 1China84: We are Winston Smith will document the fundamental issues of a totalitarian superpower (the CCP) that now has global reach and strategic planning and execution for hegemony.

It is the single greatest opportunity in our lifetime to impact history before history impacts us. Critically, we were not born too late to act and make a difference. Yet, just like Winston Smith, we are next.

I am Winston Smith, you are Winston Smith, your children will be Winston Smith.

And each thematic chapter of 1China84 will have pragmatic solutions where we simply answer the question:

What would Winston do?