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Image of Osama bin Laden is dead - long live Emmanuel Goldstein

In light of the claim that Osama bin Laden has now been killed, we thought it might be a good idea to remind everyone of George Orwell's famous character in the novel 1984: Emmanuel Goldstein.

Emmanuel Goldstein is a character in George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Despite being a key part of the story, he is only actually seen and heard on telescreen, and may in fact be nothing more than a propaganda fabrication of the Ministry of Truth ("Minitrue")...

In the novel, Goldstein is rumoured to be a former top member of the ruling (and sole) Party who had broken away early in the movement and started an organization known as "The Brotherhood", dedicated to the fall of The Party. The novel raises but leaves unanswered the questions of whether Goldstein, "The Brotherhood," or even "Big Brother" really exist.

Each member of "The Brotherhood" is required to read the book supposedly written by Goldstein, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Each person is said to have three or four contacts at one time which are replaced as people disappear, so that if a member is captured, he can only give up three or four others.

Goldstein is always the subject of the "Two Minutes Hate," a daily, 2-minute period beginning at 11:00 AM at which a purported image of Goldstein is shown on the telescreen (a one-channel television with surveillance devices in it that cannot be turned off). The reader may surmise that a political opposition to Big Brother-namely, Goldstein-was psychologically necessary in order to provide an internal enemy posing a threat to the rule of the Party; the constantly reiterated ritual of the Two Minutes Hate help ensure that popular support for and devotion towards Big Brother is continuous.

It is never revealed whether Goldstein really exists. In fact, Inner Party member O'Brien adamantly refuses to reveal whether The Brotherhood truly exists when asked by Winston in the torture room:

Winston: Does the Brotherhood exist?

O'Brien: That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.

Although O'Brien claims to have collaborated in writing the book himself, his statement still leaves the questions of Goldstein and the Brotherhood's existence unanswered, as it could have been an untrue statement made by O'Brien in order to manipulate Winston's thinking and break his spirit.

Emmanuel Goldstein


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on May 1, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=545

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