Two out of three. That’s what I think most people would get. Try it for yourself: What were the three ominous slogans at the heart of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)? Two of them are punchy and easy to remember: WAR IS PEACE and FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. But what is the third? It’s the unmemorable IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. That third slogan just doesn’t work. It isn’t punchy and it doesn’t condense and capture the ideology of the ruling party like the first two. Orwell could have done much better than that.
“Carefully constructed lies”
So what should he have used instead? I suggest: DEMOCRACY IS TYRANNY. That is punchy and perverse like the first two slogans. It captures the ideology of the ruling party and the most important concept in the novel. Here’s the novel’s protagonist musing on that concept:
Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed,