Behind the Scenes: Doublethink
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able—and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years—to arrest the course of history.”
—The Theory & Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein; George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Kindle, Hardcover, Mass Market Paperback, Paperback, Audiobook)
At least initially (before they removed the Bestsellers tab), Notes provided an opportunity to interact with people outside my Substack subculture of familiar faces, introducing me to new writers, artists, poets, scientists, and other freedom-fighting truth-tellers as well as a cackle of hyenas, a battery of barracudas, a scold of jays, a prickle of porcupines, and a scourge of mosquitoes.
One such smellfungus periodically injects himself into conversations to wage attacks against those he appears to perceive as heretics—particularly moderates like Chris Hedges, Clifton Duncan, and Sherman Alexie, all of whom fail to shriek the shibboleths required to maintain membership in the Party.
Our recent (and hopefully last) exchange illuminates the nature of doublethink with such clarity, I thought it would make a valuable addition to my Behind the Scenes entries demonstrating logical fallacies, which I kicked off with the Gell-Man Amnesia Effect.
“Oh, I’m not being sarcastic! Noooo. This is just a little speech impediment. I can’t help it!”
Free subscribers can attempt to follow the respective conversations here and here, whereas paid subscribers enjoy the ease of reading these dialogues in a nicely formatted, chronological progression with embedded hyperlinks and media.