1984: Goldstein Lives

Emmanuel Goldstein awoke slowly, as the sky became just grey and he starkly refused to fall back to sleep. There was much to be done in the free world and billions counted on his leadership. The King’s room in Versailles had been adorned according to his orders, and the rest of the palace opened up for the staff necessary in running Eurasian battle operations.

Goldstein ran his hands over his face, over his stark white hair and his goatee. He blinked several times and reached over to the ornate nightstand and grasped his steel-rimmed glasses, which lay next to a framed photograph of him walking with Big Brother. Goldstein carefully turned aside the plain wool blankets and stepped out onto the carpet. He was a simple man and there were many without. Even if he were living in a palace, he would do so simply.

Ah, Big Brother. If only Goldstein had known that he would turn out so rotten, he would have disposed of him back in the revolutionary days, for the betterment of mankind, no doubt. As it stood, the man had become a maniac, and he ruled a third of the world. A third which Goldstein fully intended to liberate. He kept the picture as a symbol of his philosophy, that the past must be built upon into a better future and not erased. Back in Oceania, Big Brother had unpersoned him and denied that they had even met. In the heady days before the old regimes had been overthrown, they had operated in the same circles and on occasion even worked together. Though truth to be told, Big Brother was a man who lacked imagination, save in cruelty, and had been largely ineffectual in the early work that brought them to power.

The delicate and convoluted scent of flowers drifted into his olfactory senses from the arrangements sent to him by the many grateful ethnic peoples of Eurasia, who breathed free because of their own efforts, as coordinated by him. Perfumes and ornately carved knick-knacks embroidered tapestries and other gifts were piled in front of his door each morning. He briskly wrote out thanks, blessings and inspirational sentiments to each of the peoples, and then dressed in his plain grey tunic and trousers, tying on his brown leather shoes.

Writing, of course, comprised a large amount of Goldstein’s day. He had to dispatch telegrams with orders to the front commanders, to the industrial commanders, to the people themselves. The messages broached new subjects or continued themes, all of which connected inside of Goldstein’s mind. It consumed a great deal of time, but it was an activity that paid dividends. Each person in Eurasia, to the extent that it was possible, needed to understand why programmes were being implemented and what their roles in them were. If railway travel was to be restricted they needed to know that the rail cars were needed to move goods to the front. If the ration of leather for shoes was to be restricted, they needed to know that these goods were necessary for the front. In reality, they had achieved a level of abundance that made such restrictions a thing of the past. Of their own accord, industries had met and exceeded the necessary production quotas. There were very few citizens of Eurasia who wanted for anything.

Unlike the poor skeletons in Oceania, deprived of basic goods, told that a decrease in rations was an increase. Even their speech was being stripped away from them. It became difficult for Goldstein’s analysts to even read the news dispatches from Oceania because the words used became fewer and less meaningful. Here in Liberation Front One, as France had been termed, language and art were improved as even with this seemingly endless war with the tyranny of Big Brother, time was allotted in a day for the artistic expansion of the mind. This also was an activity which paid dividends. It had been a steelworker learning to paint who had been struck by an idea to improve the strength of steel, simply from attempting to paint the process.

He did not yet know that Big Brother had stumbled onto his operations and had been running a pseudo-resistance in order to catch dissidents. Most of Goldstein’s true operatives in Oceania had died some time ago and he didn’t dare contact the ones he suspected might still be alive for fear of their safety. There was no chance of turning Oceania through revolution. It was up to the power of economics and martial fervor now. He did know that Big Brother had operatives inside Eurasia and he made every effort to uproot them. There was no point in trying to turn them. Big Brother’s operatives were absolute fanatics; they had to be to live in a land of such beauty, freedom and abundance and attempt to wreck it.

Now it was time to get to some real business. Goldstein called for his secretary to bring the production and war reports for him to peruse. He needed to feel the pulse of the whole supernation before he could properly plan and issue orders. His secretary, a well-muscled fellow with a quick smile, entered with a large stack of bound reports. Setting them on the desk he stepped back and made a joke at which they both laughed. Goldstein splayed out the reports in before him and chose one on heavy industry to begin. He needed to know if the cause of the flaws in boiler faces had been found and fixed. Leaning in over the report, he adjusted his glasses.

The secretary’s smile melted into a sneer and he drew an ice-axe which was tucked in his trousers. The guard standing outside the door saw the action and locked the bolt of his submachine gun but events were moving too quickly and he could not get close enough to fire without hitting Goldstein. Goldstein looked up upon hearing the guard’s shout but all he saw was red and then black as the pick side of the ice-axe came down on his skull, piercing his brain. Guards swarmed into the room and subdued the secretary, who did not resist the overwhelming force which rained upon him.

The people of Eurasia poured out their woes in open and public weeping over the next few weeks. The sadness was forged into resolve when Oceania used the opportunity to attack from Airstrip One. Goldstein had been a very old man and could not have lived forever. Even in their mourning, the institutions he had built were strong and Eurasia’s people had been vested with enough power and knowledge to continue his work. One man’s death could not stop the momentum of a society constructed on a foundation of social progress.

© 2016, Vance Osterhout. All rights reserved.

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