The World of “1984”: The Ministries

071-SenateHouse

 

Oceania, where our story takes place, is run by the Party whose ideology is Ingsoc (English Socialism). London is the capital and the skyline is dominated by four pyramid-like structures, home of the Ministries:* The Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue), Ministry of Love (MiniLuv), Ministry of Peace (MiniPax) and Ministry of Plenty (MiniPlenty). They are bright white concrete and rising 300 meters into the air. On the front are the three slogans of the Party: “WAR IS PEACE”, “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY” and “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”.

Ministry of Truth (Minitrue)
The Ministry of Truth is the only one we know of intimately, as this is where Winston Smith works. It has 3000 rooms above ground. Underground is probably devoted to huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after being put down memory holes, small grates at each person’s desk.

Minitrue deals with information and how it is distributed to the masses, both Party officials and the Proles. It is involved with the news media, entertainment, the fine arts, and educational books. Since the Party’s rules are constantly changing, the media has to change along with it to reflect whatever truth the Party wants at the moment. This is where Winston comes in. He works in an office that helps change this information. Once something is changed, it is regarded as truth and also regarded as always have been true. For example, if Big Brother made a prediction and the prediction came out wrong, then workers like Winston re-write the prediction so it’s accurate.

The Records Department is just a small sector of Minitrue. A huge part of Minitrue was to

“…supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programs, plays novels—-with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child’s spelling book to a Newspeak dictionary. And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the Party but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers, containing almost nothing except sport, crime, and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole subsection–Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak–engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.”

The different departments that are mentioned:

• Records Department (Recdep)
• Fiction Department (Ficdep)
• Pornography (Pornosec)
• Propaganda Department (Propdep)
• Tele-Programmes Department (Teledep)
• Research Department (Resdep)
• Music Department (Musdep)

Ministry of Peace (Minipax)
Minipax serves as the defense in Oceania and is in charge of the Ministry of Plenty. It is in charge of the armed forces, the navy and the army. It is one of the main Ministries as the state is always in a perpetual war.

What we know of Minipax is from Emmanuel Goldstein’s book. He tells us that the reason the state is in a perpetual war is so it uses up all the surplus resources, keeping the citizens in lives of constant hardships–and thus preventing them from learning the true nature of their society.

Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty)
Miniplenty is in charge of Oceania’s planned economy. It ties in with Minipax in that it controls the food, supplies and goods. It regulates giving the population short supplies in order to give them a hard life so they will not realize the true motives of the Party. It gives the population useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production. Thus, a poor, weak populace is easier to rule than a wealthy, powerful one. Throughout the novel the telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down. Miniplenty also hands out statistics that are nonsense.

Ministry of Love (Miniluv)
Minilove is the truly scary one. It enforces loyalty and love of Big Brother through fear and brainwashing. The building it is housed in has no windows and is surrounded by barbed wire entanglements, steel doors, hidden machine-gun nests, and guards armed with “jointed truncheons”. It is “the place where there is no darkness”, as the interior lights are never shut off. The Thought Police is part of Miniluv.

Miniluv contains Room 101 which has “the worst thing in the world” inside it. Namely whatever the prisoner’s greatest fear is.
* The Ministries, specifically MiniTrue, is based on Senate House in London. Senate House was the headquarters of the Ministry of Information during World War II and is now owned by the University of London. Orwell’s wife, Eileen O’Shaugnessy, worked here for a short time during the war.

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