“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
The national slogan of Oceania is as equally contradictory as it is preposterous, therefore is an important testament to the true power of the Party’s mass campaign of public domination. The Party is able to maintain this slogan because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united (War is Peace). “Freedom is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the lack of ability of the people to recognize these paradoxes cements the power of the totalitarian regime.
We can apply George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ to the party slogans to make them comprehendible. War and peace, freedom and slavery, ignorance and strength are antonyms. They reflect the opposite and contradict each other. With doublethink, the Party makes the people believe that those contradictions are reliant on each other. The first line ‘War is Peace’ states that only through war, can peace be achieved, however it doesn’t seem logical to the reader because it is a paradox since we just couldn’t create peace if there is constant war. The Oceania citizens however believe there is peace even though the book mentions that some wars are being held in unknown places. Ironically, some countries in the world such as North Africa and India have achieved peace through war, making the phrase somewhat true.
Freedom is Slavery is George Orwell’s way of saying that we are all slaves and that simultaneously creates our freedom. In the book Winston states that there are no laws in Oceania, so they can do whatever they want, they have complete freedom, but if they write in a diary, or speak ill against Big Brother, there will be consequences. Winstons sense of freedom is simply false, it is also interesting to point out that nowadays we believe we are free but whenever we buy a car or house, we still need to pay for taxes. We still need to work and be slaves of others just to get our freedom. So at the end Freedom is Slavery.
The last phrase of the Party states that Ignorance is Strength. We know that if we are ignorant we just can’t achieve our full strength which makes the statement a clear contradiction. However, ignorance in this context does not specify to each individual person, it represents the power of the government. The Oceania citizens are ignorant to their outside world (or told only what the government wants them to be told), they live their reality and that ignorance reflects the power of their government.