Nineteen Eighty-Four

by George Orwell (1949)

How do social leaders dominate the populace?  Orwell's answer is that the masses are easily controlled through heavy work, cheap entertainment, and gambling.  Intellectuals, however, are a problem.  They have the capacity for abstract thought and could therefore trigger political instability if not carefully monitored and kept strictly in line.  Orwell introduces three concepts that apply to this leadership challenge: thoughtcrime, doublethink, and crimestop.  The first two are well-known, although doublethink is sometimes confused with doublespeak - a word he doesn't use.  The virtually unknown concept is crimestop. This is the psychological mechanism unconsciously applied by intellectuals to dismiss any idea that social leaders have placed beyond the boundary of permissible thought:

Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought.  It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to [the ruling ideology], and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” (p. 287, emphasis in original)