A thoughtcrime is an Orwellian neologism used to describe an illegal thought. The term was popularized in the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, first published in 1949, wherein thoughtcrime is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc, the ruling party. In the book, the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects. To entertain unacceptable thoughts is known as crimethink (or wrongthink) in Newspeak, the ideologically purified dialect of the party. Crimestop is a way to avoid crimethink by immediately purging dangerous thoughts from the mind.
The term has been adopted into the English language to describe beliefs contrary to accepted norms and has retrospectively been used to describe some theological concepts such as disbelief or idolatry, or a rejection of strong philosophical or social principles.
The Thought Police (thinkpol in Newspeak) are the secret police of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is their job to uncover and punish thoughtcrime. The Thought Police use surveillance and psychological monitoring to find and eliminate members of society who challenge the party's authority and ideology.
The term "Thought Police", by extension, has come to refer to real or perceived enforcement of ideological correctness.
Technology played a significant part in the detection of thoughtcrime in Nineteen Eighty-Four—with the ubiquitous telescreens which could inform the government and misinform and monitor the population. The citizens of Oceania are watched by the Thought Police through the telescreens. Every movement, reflex, facial expression, and reaction is measured by this system, monitored by the Ministry of Love.
Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.— Part I, Chapter I, Nineteen Eighty-Four
At times, it seems as if the telescreen is constantly watching each citizen. Winston Smith recognises that he has no idea who is behind the technology, watching him or anyone else.
If you made unexpected movements they yelled at you from the telescreen.— Part III, Chapter I, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Because of this system of surveillance, the Thought Police and the Ministry of Love become universally feared by any member of the Outer Party or any one of the 'Proles' who is capable (or felt by the Party to be capable) of thoughtcrime.
"Crimestop" means to rid oneself of unwanted thoughts immediately, i.e., thoughts that interfere or disagree with the ideology of the Party. This way, a person avoids committing thoughtcrime.
In the novel, we hear about crimestop through the eyes of protagonist Winston Smith:
The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.
He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions—'the Party says the earth is flat', 'the party says that ice is heavier than water'—and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.
Orwell also describes crimestop from the perspective of Emmanuel Goldstein in the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism:
Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
Some modern writers have described people who were prosecuted and burned at the stake for heresy in various countries that followed Abrahamic religions, as having been the victims of thoughtcrime laws; such victims would sometimes be offered the chance to repent for their thoughtcrimes.
Similarly people have been executed, or imprisoned in concentration camps, during the 20th century under totalitarian regimes, such as Adolf Hitler's Third Reich (Nazi Germany), Stalinist Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.
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Allport's Scale is a measure of the manifestation of prejudice in a society. It is also referred to as Allport's Scale of Prejudice and Discrimination or Allport's Scale of Prejudice. It was devised by psychologist Gordon Allport in 1954.Doublethink
Doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts. Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Also related is cognitive dissonance, in which contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance—thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.
George Orwell created the word doublethink in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949); doublethink is part of newspeak. In the novel, its origin within the typical citizen is unclear; while it could be partly a product of Big Brother's formal brainwashing programmes, the novel explicitly shows people learning doublethink and newspeak due to peer pressure and a desire to "fit in", or gain status within the Party—to be seen as a loyal Party Member. In the novel, for someone to even recognize—let alone mention—any contradiction within the context of the Party line was akin to blasphemy, and could subject that person to disciplinary action and to the instant social disapproval of fellow Party Members.
Like many aspects of the dystopian societies reflected in Orwell's writings, Orwell considered doublethink to be a feature of Soviet-style totalitarianism, as reflected in this statement from a speech by Joseph Stalin:
We are for the withering away of the state, and at the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship, which represents the most powerful and mighty of all forms of the state which have existed up to the present day. The highest development of the power of the state, with the object of preparing the conditions of the withering away of the state: that is the Marxist formula. Is it "contradictory"? Yes, it is "contradictory." But this contradiction is a living thing and wholly reflects the Marxist dialectic.Freedom of thought
Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints.Future Attribute Screening Technology
Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) is a program created by the Department of Homeland Security. It was originally titled Project Hostile Intent. The purpose is to detect "Mal Intent" by screening people for "psychological and physiological indicators" in a "Mobile Screening Laboratory".George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".Orwell's work continues to influence popular and political culture and the term "Orwellian"—descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices—has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including "Big Brother", "Thought Police", "Room 101", "memory hole", "newspeak", "doublethink", "proles", "unperson" and "thoughtcrime".Glass house effect
The Glass House Effect (or GHE) is the resulting phenomenon brought on by an awareness that one is subject to ubiquitous surveillance. In corporate environments, the transparency is considered a good idea, as it is believed this discourages corporate crime and other misfeasance.
The Glass House Effect can induce an overwhelming sense of hopelessness brought on those subject to such uncontrolled observation. In such circumstances, solitude is conspicuously absent, and privacy is considered a thoughtcrime. The messages conveyed to the subject in such an environment usually involve some variation on the notion of Catch-22, such as
There is no place to hide; nor should you want to.
Any exhibited avoidance behavior is considered a threat, and an invitation for additional scrutiny.Harold Covington
Harold Armstead Covington (September 14, 1953 – July 14, 2018) was an American neo-Nazi activist and writer. Covington advocated the creation of an "Aryan homeland" in the Pacific Northwest (known as the Northwest Territorial Imperative), and was the founder of the Northwest Front, a website which promotes white separatism.Intention (criminal law)
In criminal law, intent is a subjective state of mind that must accompany the acts of certain crimes to constitute a violation. A more formal, generally synonymous legal term is scienter: intent or knowledge of wrongdoing.List of Newspeak words
A list of words from the fictional language Newspeak that appears in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Some of these words may not strictly be Newspeak, as many of the examples come from the internal jargon of the Ministry of Truth (which is said to be "not actually Newspeak, but consisting largely of Newspeak words").
artsem – artificial insemination
bb – Big Brother
bellyfeel – a blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea
blackwhite – the ability to believe that black is white, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary
crimestop – to rid oneself of unwanted thoughts, i.e., thoughts that interfere with the ideology of the Party. This way, a person avoids committing thoughtcrime
crimethink – Thoughtcrime, thoughts that are unorthodox or outside the official government platform (or the crime of thinking such thoughts)
dayorder – Order of the day
doubleplusgood - Replaces excellent, best and benevolent
doubleplusungood - Replaces terrible and worst
doublethink – the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct
duckspeak – Voicing political orthodoxies without thinking, lit. "to quack like a duck"
equal – Only in the sense of physically equal, like equal height/size, etc. It does not mean socially – politically or economically – equal, since there is no such concept as political equality in Ingsoc's permanent oligarchical hierarchy. In keeping with doublethink, Ingsoc is also classless and egalitarian, so there is also no concept of social inequality.
facecrime – An indication that a person is guilty of thoughtcrime based on their facial expression
free – Meaning Negative freedom (without) in a physical sense, only in statements like "This dog is free from lice", as the concepts of "political freedom" and "intellectual freedom" do not exist in Newspeak
full – (the adverb fullwise appears in the Records Department's written orders)
good – (Can also be used as a prefix vaguely meaning "orthodox")
goodthink – thoughts that are approved by the Party and follow its policies, ideals and interpretations. It is the opposite of crimethink
goodsex – intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children and without physical pleasure
ingsoc – English Socialism
joycamp – Forced labour camp
malquoted – flaws or inaccurate presentations of Party or Big Brother-related matters by the press. See misprints below
miniluv – "Ministry of Love" (secret police, interrogation and torture)
minipax – "Ministry of Peace" (Ministry of War, cf: 'Department of Defense' vs 'War Department')
minitrue – "Ministry of Truth" (propaganda and altering history, culture and entertainment)
miniplenty – "Ministry of Plenty" (keeping the population in a state of constant economic hardship)
misprints – Errors or mispredictions which need to be rectified in order to prove that the Party is always right. See malquoted above
oldspeak – English; perhaps any language that is not Newspeak
oldthink – Ideas inspired by events or memories of times prior to the Revolution
ownlife – the tendency to enjoy being solitary or individualistic
plusgood – replaces the words better and great. Refers to good compliance with Party orthodoxy.
pornosec – subunit of the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth that produces pornography
prolefeed – The steady stream of mindless entertainment to distract and occupy the masses
recdep – "Records Department" (division of the Ministry of Truth that deals with the rectification of records; department in which Winston works)
rectify – used by the Ministry of Truth as a euphemism for the deliberate alteration (or 'correction') of the past
ref – To refer (to)
sec – Sector
sexcrime – any and all sexual activity which is not specifically goodsex
speakwrite – An instrument used by Party members to note or "write" down information by speaking into an apparatus as a faster alternative to an "ink pencil". It is, for example, used in the Ministry of Truth by the protagonist Winston Smith. Speakwrites are also apparently able to record everything that is spoken into the device
telescreen – television and security camera-like devices used by the ruling Party in Oceania to keep its subjects under constant surveillance
thinkpol – the Thought Police
thoughtcrime – the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc
Unperson – someone of whom, after his or her execution, any evidence [up to and including memories] that he or she ever existed was erased [or derided as potentially dangerous falsehoods].
upsub – submit to higher authority. In one scene in the novel, Winston Smith is instructed to alter a document to conform with the Party line, and submit it to his superiors before filing it: rewrite fullwise upsub antefilingNations of Nineteen Eighty-Four
Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are the three fictional superstates in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
How the world evolved into the three states is vague. They appear to have emerged from nuclear warfare and civil dissolution over 20 years between 1945, the end of World War II, and 1965. Eurasia was likely formed first, followed closely afterwards by Oceania, with Eastasia emerging a decade later, possibly in the 1960s.Newspeak
Newspeak is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell. The ruling Party of Oceania created the Newspeak language to meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism (Ingsoc). Newspeak is a controlled language, of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, meant to limit the freedom of thought—personal identity, self-expression, free will—that ideologically threatens the régime of Big Brother and the Party, who thus criminalized such concepts as thoughtcrime, contradictions of Ingsoc orthodoxy.In "The Principles of Newspeak", the appendix to the novel, George Orwell explains that Newspeak usage follows most of the English grammar, yet is a language characterised by a continually diminishing vocabulary; complete thoughts reduced to simple terms of simplistic meaning. Linguistically, the contractions of Newspeak—Ingsoc (English Socialism), Minitrue (Ministry of Truth), etc.—derive from the syllabic abbreviations of Russian, which identify the government and social institutions of the Soviet Union, such as politburo (Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), Comintern (Communist International), kolkhoz (collective farm), and Komsomol (Young Communists' League). The long-term political purpose of the new language is for every member of the Party and society, except the Proles—the working-class of Oceania—to exclusively communicate in Newspeak, by the year A.D. 2050; during that 66-year transition, the usage of Oldspeak (Standard English) shall remain interspersed among Newspeak conversations.Newspeak is also a constructed language, of planned phonology, grammar, and vocabulary, like Basic English, which Orwell promoted (1942–44) during the Second World War (1939–45), and later rejected in the essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946), wherein he criticises the bad usage of English in his day: dying metaphors, pretentious diction, and high-flown rhetoric, which produce the meaningless words of doublespeak, the product of unclear reasoning. Orwell's conclusion thematically reiterates linguistic decline: "I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this may argue that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development, by any direct tinkering with words or constructions."Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English writer George Orwell published in June 1949. The novel is set in the year 1984 when most of the world population have become victims of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and propaganda.
In the novel, Great Britain ("Airstrip One") has become a province of a superstate named Oceania. Oceania is ruled by the "Party", who employ the "Thought Police" to persecute individualism and independent thinking. The Party's leader is Big Brother, who enjoys an intense cult of personality but may not even exist. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a rank-and-file Party member. Smith is an outwardly diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother. Smith rebels by entering a forbidden relationship with fellow employee Julia.
As literary political fiction and dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, and memory hole, have entered into common usage since its publication in 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which connotes official deception, secret surveillance, brazenly misleading terminology and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editors' list, and 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.Nineteen Eighty-Four in popular media
References to George Orwell's dystopian political novel Nineteen Eighty-Four themes, concepts and plot elements are also frequent in other works, particularly popular music and video entertainment.Plymouth-Canton Marching Band
The Plymouth-Canton Marching Band (PCMB) is a nationally recognized marching band program located on the campus of the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park in Canton, Michigan.Political fiction
Political fiction employs narrative to comment on political events, systems and theories. Works of political fiction, such as political novels, often "directly criticize an existing society or present an alternative, even fantastic, reality". The political novel overlaps with the social novel, proletarian novel, and social science fiction.
Plato's Republic, a Socratic dialogue written around 380 BC, has been one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically. The Republic is concerned with justice (δικαιοσύνη), the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. Other influential politically-themed works include Thomas More's Utopia (1516), Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), Voltaire's Candide (1759), and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
Political fiction frequently employs satire, often in the utopian and dystopian genres.
This includes totalitarian dystopias of the early 20th century such as Jack London's The Iron Heel, Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.Pre-crime
Pre-crime (or precrime) is a term coined by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It is increasingly used in academic literature to describe and criticise the tendency in criminal justice systems to focus on crimes not yet committed. Pre-crime has been defined as "substantive coercive state interventions targeted at non-imminent crimes". Pre-crime intervenes to punish, disrupt, incapacitate or restrict those deemed to embody future crime threats. The term pre-crime embodies a temporal paradox, suggesting both that a crime has not occurred and that the crime that has not occurred is a foregone conclusion (McCulloch and Wilson 2016).Richard McCaslin
The Phantom Patriot was the name taken by Richard McCaslin of Carson City, Nevada, who, on January 19, 2002, attempted an attack on the Bohemian Grove. He was imprisoned in California. He is the subject of the song "Phantom Patriot" by Les Claypool on his album Of Whales and Woe.Seditious libel
Sedition and seditious libel were criminal offences under English common law, and are still criminal offences in Canada. Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order: if the statement is in writing or some other permanent form it is seditious libel. Libel denotes a printed form of communication such as writing or drawing.American scholar Leonard W. Levy argues that seditious libel "has always been an accordion-like concept, expandable or contractible at the whim of judges".Thought Police
In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate Oceania, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by the Party. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance (telescreens, microphones, informers) to search for and find, monitor and arrest all citizens of Oceania who would commit thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.George Orwell's concept of "thought policing" derived from the intellectual self-honesty shown by a person's "power of facing unpleasant facts"; thus, criticising the prevailing ideas of British society often placed Orwell in conflict with ideologues, people advocating "smelly little orthodoxies".In the story, the Thought Police conduct false-flag operations (e.g. The Brotherhood) to lure non-conformist members of the Party to expose themselves as politically subversive.
Types of crime
Note: Crimes vary by jurisdiction. Not all types are listed here.
|Against the person|
|Against public order|
|Against the state|