ministry of truth


Prolefeed is a Newspeak term in the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell. It was used to describe the deliberately superficial literature, movies and music that were produced by Prolesec, a section of the Ministry of Truth, to keep the ‘proles’ (i.e., proletariat) content and to prevent them from becoming too knowledgeable. The ruling Party believes that too much knowledge could motivate the proles to rebel against them.

The term is used occasionally to describe shallow entertainment in the real world. For example, Theodore Dalrymple wrote in the ‘The Spectator’ that ‘France …. is less dominated by mass distraction (known here as popular culture, but in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ as prolefeed) than Britain is.’ The term has also been applied to fast food, such as that of McDonald’s: ‘Once seen as the all-American corporation, ‘McDonald’s’ is now shorthand for a globalist mass culture that provides cheap, unhealthy food to lower-class people. McDonald’s is, quite literally, prolefeed. Part of this image was a deliberate choice by the corporation.’

In Orwell’s novel, Prolesec is described in detail: ‘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 sub-section—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.’

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