The term ‘doublethink’ is often confused with being hypocritical; but when you take a closer look at it you will realize the subtle differences between the two, and you will understand how to differentiate one from the other.
“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”
― George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
It is funny how life and thoughts put us in difficult predicaments. Sometime or the other, we face certain situations leading to mixed feelings, thoughts, and actions. We often find ourselves face-to-face with thoughts where we find ourselves agreeing and advocating two contradictory sides of a belief. Both sides of the belief have equal validity, carry the same weightage, and most important of all, both sides are equally acceptable. This is what George Orwell refers to as doublethink.
We often find ourselves doing this mainly to save our face, then be it our face or the face of the person in front of us. Here, by face, we mean to say the public image that we portray or the appearances we keep. For e.g., when we watch the news on TV sets and see war situations, we wonder if war is peace, or war is slavery.
Doublethink was coined or created by George Orwell in his novel ‘1984’, where he quoted:
“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… “
It is a little hazy and confusing to understand what the author meant just by reading the above excerpt. The first sentence explains that doublethink means accepting two contradictory beliefs and/or ideas that one can have at the same time; and that both are acceptable and valid. This art of viewing a situation or topic from all dimensions in a way alters reality and to a certain extent, replaces the truth with fabricating reality. In other words, doublethink gives you a little more control by eliminating uncertainty and, thus, believes that the whole system seems coherent.
Following are some examples of doublethink from the book 1984, along with some examples used in politics, society, and real life.
➢ War is peace.
➢ Execution of a murderer.
➢ Ignorance is strength.
➢ Freedom is slavery.
➢ Stating that there is no such thing as truth.
➢ You must fit in and yet stand out.
➢ Animals are safer in the sanctuaries/zoos rather than the wild.
➢ Your life is run by fate, but you must exercise free will.
➢Being down on white people for being racist.
Doublethink Explained with an Example
Let me explain to you one of the Doublethink with an example; for instance, if we take “Execution of a murderer” as an example.
➤ Murderers killed people and so they too should be executed.
➤ What is the difference between us and them if we take another human life?
➤ They repent for their mistake.
➤ They must pay for their actions.
… and so on and so forth. Both sides are equally valid and acceptable. Of course, your personal belief may make you more biased. However, the above is just an example for you to understand how doublethink works.