In George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ingsoc is the ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania. Ingsoc is Newspeak for "English Socialism".


English Socialism predominated during a communist or, more likely, socialist revolution, but as The Party is constantly rewriting history it is impossible to tell precisely how it occurred. In addition to rewriting history, The Party also is constantly rewriting the language to make ambiguous the true meanings of words and the ideas behind them, hence, "English Socialism" became the shorter and more esoteric "Ingsoc."

Ingsoc as a political philosophy

In the novel, Emmanuel Goldstein's book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, describes the actual ideology of the Party as "oligarchical collectivism", stating that Ingsoc "rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of Socialism", (a practice Orwell dealt with in Animal Farm).

The Party is personified by Big Brother, an omnipresent face constantly depicted on posters and the telescreen; like the Party itself, Big Brother is constantly watching. Ingsoc demands complete submission and tortures to achieve it, (see Room 101). Ingsoc has mastered a complex system of psychological tools and methods not only to make people confess imagined crimes and forget thoughts of rebellion, but also to actually love Ingsoc itself.

Unlike most real totalitarian regimes, Ingsoc has little if any true end or ultimate political goal other than control for its own sake. O'Brien puts it quite glibly:

The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

Ingsoc as a metaphysical philosophy

Aside from being a political philosophy, Ingsoc is a metaphysical philosophy, positing that all knowledge rests in the collective mind of the Party, that reality is what the Party says it is. This is the Party's justification for altering historical texts. It uses doublethink to believe what it would otherwise know as false, and in believing the new past, the new past was, hence he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past.

Thematic references to solipsism, regarding pure Ingsoc, are made throughout the book's third part, implying that, according to Ingsoc, the universe exists entirely in the mind of the person. It is the job of the Ministry of Love (via torture and brainwashing) and, to a lesser extent, that of the Ministry of Truth (via false propaganda) to ensure that each person's mind is shaped to undying loyalty to the Party and its ideology. In these beliefs the person exists only as part of the collective, thus convincing the collective that nothing exists other than the goodness of the Party and the evil of other nations. This is the form of the conscious universe of the person and the collective. Thus the Party remains in total power.

Class structure under Ingsoc

Under Ingsoc, society is composed of three classes:

  1. The Inner Party, who make policy, effect decisions, and run the government, they are simply referred to as The Party. They are akin to the brain of the party.
  2. The Outer Party, who work the state jobs and are society's middle class. "Members are allowed no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin." The Outer Party also are the most scrutinised, constantly monitored with two-way telescreens and other surveillance technologies. They are akin to the hands of the party.
  3. The Proles, who are the lower class, the rabble whom the Inner Party keeps happy and sedate with beer, gambling, sport, casual sex, and prolefeed ("rubbishy texts"). The proles are the proletariat, Marx's term for the working class. The Proles are 85% of Oceania's populace.

The classes mix little, although the narrator describes an evening at the cinema, where proles and Party members both attend. The protagonist also is able to patronize a prole pub without attracting much attention — or so he thinks — and to visit the flat of O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party, on a pretext of borrowing a newer edition of the Newspeak dictionary.

In keeping with themes of secrecy, deception, and contradiction present in other aspects of this work, Ingsoc, through its propaganda, claims to be egalitarian. The Proles, and some members of the Outer Party, often are hideously exploited while the Party élite live comfortably, and goods are as scarce and costly as Ingsoc propaganda depicts them to have been under capitalism.

Other political ideologies in 1984

Eastasia and Eurasia, the other two superstates formed and ruled by an ideology in and of similar manner as Oceania, each have their Ingsoc equivalents. Eurasia, formed from Russia's conquest of Europe, names its ideology Neo-Bolshevism, and the Chinese name for their ideology for ruling Eastasia is commonly translated as Death-Worship, or, more precisely, the Obliteration of the Self.

This fact, that the three ideologies are virtually indistinguishable in their tenets, is known to all three ruling oligarchies and is constantly denied via doublethink. This denial of similarity among them, and the three-fold, mutual vilification of each other permits eternal war among the three superstates. Without said war, the lower classes would lack focus for the hatred and triumph with which the Inner Parties psychologically dominate them.

Unexplained, in the novel, is how Ingsoc and its ruling Inner Party established and maintained control of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the British Commonwealth, and the entire Americas in a historically-short period, (roughly 30 years, per the novel's chronology). Goldstein's book claims Oceania was created "with the absorption of .... the British Empire by the United States".

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