Two Minutes Hate


In the dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (1949), by George Orwell, the Two Minutes Hate is the daily, public period during which members of the Outer Party of Oceania must watch a film depicting the enemies of the state, specifically Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers, to openly and loudly express hatred for them.

The political purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to allow the citizens of Oceania to vent their existential anguish and personal hatreds towards politically expedient enemies: Goldstein and the rival superstate of the moment. In re-directing the members’ subconscious feelings away from the Party’s government of Oceania, and towards non-existent external enemies, the Party minimizes thoughtcrime (politically unorthodox thoughts).

In the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (1984), the first session of Two Minutes Hate shows the introduction of O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party, to the story of Winston Smith, the protagonist whose feelings communicate the effectiveness of the Party’s psychological manipulation and control of Oceanian society:

‘The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.’

In the cinematic version of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (1984), brainwashing of the participants in the Two Minutes Hate includes auditory and visual cues, such as ‘a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil’ that burst from the telescreen’ meant to psychologically excite the crowd into an emotional frenzy of hatred, fear, and loathing for Emmanuel Goldstein, and for Oceania’s enemy of the moment, either Eastasia or Eurasia. The hate session includes the participants throwing things at the telescreen showing the film, as does the Julia character. In the course of the Two Minutes Hate, the film image of Goldstein metamorphoses into the face of a bleating sheep, as enemy soldiers advance towards the viewers of the film, before one enemy soldier charges towards the viewers, whilst firing his sub-machinegun; the face of that soldier then becomes the face of Big Brother. At the end of the two-minute session of hatred, the members of the Party ritualistically chant ‘B-B . . . B-B . . . B-B . . . B-B.’ To maintain the extreme emotions provoked in the Two Minutes Hate sessions, the Party created ‘Hate Week,’ a week-long festival of hatreds.

George Orwell’s conceptions of the Two Minutes Hate and of Hate Week derived from the psychological warfare employed in the First World War (1914–1918) to disrupt the garrison-like routines that the entrenched armies had developed, consequent to the stalemate of trench warfare. In that time, British propagandists satirized the Imperial German campaign of nationalist hatred against the English, and imagined a Prussian family at their kitchen table having their ‘morning hate.’ Moreover, both sides practiced hates, in the form of short, daily artillery cannonades meant to disrupt the garrison routines of the enemy.’

Attacks on the liberal opposition by state-owned Russian television channels such as Russia-1 and RT have been characterized as reminiscent of the ‘two minutes hate.’ Russian television portrayed Ukrainian troops as monsters during the War in Donbas. One of the most notorious examples was a 2014 hoax report on Channel One Russia that Ukrainian soldiers had crucified a three-year-old child.

In the 2002, American epic historical drama film, ‘Gangs of New York,’ during the time of the American Civil War, nativists and confederates attend Uncle Tom’s Cabin to express their hatred to President Abraham Lincoln for his attempt to turn the United States of America back to normal where it was before it was separated into two. The methods of this uncalled act of cruelty in this play are shouting racist epithets, throwing objects at Lincoln, and rioting to calls of ‘Down with the Union!,’ ‘Death to the tyrant!,’ ‘Sic semper tyrannis!,’ ‘The South shall be free!,’ etc.

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