The Traitor

  1. Diary Entries 26th May, 1984

Today, as I write this, it is May 28th. Two days ago, right after I scribbled down the date preparing for another diary entry, a strange thing occurred. The telescreen switched off with a soft whir, a sound I had never heard before. For a while I couldn’t understand what had just happened. I was sitting here in the alcove, as I always do when I write, in the tiny spot that is just out of the telescreen’s reach. I leaned gingerly to my right to check whether what I thought had happened had actually happened. The screen was black and no sound seemed to come from it. There were audible gasps and sighs in the adjacent apartments, as well as nervous whispers and sobs. I too could not contain myself – I let out a yelp of positive surprise.

Soon, however, I was frozen with fear. What did this mean? Did the whole telescreen system simply break down? Did they shut it down on purpose, and if they did, what was this purpose? Repair? Upgrade? Did they have a special announcement, was something huge going on? Was all this just a scam they orchestrated to see how people would react without the telescreen being on? They had not been off, as far as I am able to recall, ever since they were first introduced.

Or perhaps this thing did not happen everywhere, but only in our building, or our apartment block? Were they after someone among us here? Did they track down the Resistance somewhere in this area? Were they, perhaps, after me?

Leonid Pasternak – „Throes of Creation“

I remained motionless in my spot, holding the diary open in my lap and feeling completely unable to write or to think clearly. Thoughts swarmed and bustled inside my head, all on their own, and flew away before I managed to understand them properly. Any moment I expected to hear the racket of a throng of people barging into the building, their boots echoing obtusely through the central hall, their dogs hoarsely barking, and they would break down the door and burst into my apartment, their guns at the ready. But all was silent, or rather far more silent than I expected or feared it to be, for there were footsteps in other rooms and apartments, muffled sounds of scurrying to and fro, and voices somewhat louder than a few minutes earlier, yet still cautiously soft, even though there was an occasional stifled cry of joy followed by an almost simultaneous warning hush of another voice.

After some feeling returned in my arms, I began to replace the notebook from my lap back into the aperture in the wall, ever so slowly as I was afraid that any sudden motion on my part would draw unwanted attention to me and blow my cover. It took another few minutes after I was done returning my diary to its usual hiding place until I managed to get off the chair and move closer to the window. There was nobody outside, nothing seemed to move. Not knowing what to do or even what to think, I went over and sat on my bed, my hands resting on my knees. I sat in that position until the pain in the back made me lie down and fall asleep.

27th (28th) May, 1984

I woke up right on time to go to work. The telescreen in my room was still off. I went out into the central hall. The sound of my door opening must have given the courage to some of my neighbors to slightly open their doors and peek outside, and some of them even dared to go out. Nobody seemed to have slept much the previous night, and everybody seemed to have a thousand questions on their mind, yet there was not a single articulate word spoken, and the people struggled very hard to suppress even the minutest gesture or facial tick that might give away what they thought and how they felt. We all eventually headed for work by tacit agreement. Along the way we met people who looked just like we did.

There was quite a commotion, it turned out, at the Ministries, but it was quite invisible; one could only feel the tension it shaped around itself. The supervisors didn’t pay much mind to what we did. There was not much work to be done anyway. In the canteen, during lunch break, people seemed braver than they had been not only earlier in the morning, but as far back as I could recall, at least with respect to speaking publicly about certain issues. They spoke in whispers about the big event of the day before, trying to decipher what it meant, offering all kinds of theories and rumours they claimed to have heard from reliable sources.

At 9:30 PM the telescreen in my room switched back on. For a moment I was blinded by its light. The tension I had been feeling all the time while it was off was now replaced with a lesser one, and I even felt almost some kind of relief.

I rose immediately from the chair I was sitting on, and judging by the sounds I picked up from other apartments, other people did the same, although there was no official request for us to do so. The official announcer appeared, her face looking solemnly resolute and severe. She was looking straight at me, straight at all of us, and I couldn’t decipher whether she was going to voice an accusation, a commendation, or something completely irrelevant to me. After a few seconds of silence, her enthused voice resounded. It summoned us all to Victory Square.

  1. The Unofficial Circumstances

One of the rumours said that it all had happened two hours before all the telescreens went black. A troika was in a routine patrol somewhere near the proles quarters, in a pretty much deserted area. Among the rubble of a building they spotted the silhouette of a man in a coat that seemed too big for him. His face was completely hidden by the upturned collar. He walked gingerly as if he avoided to be seen, but he apparently wasn’t cautious enough. The commanding officer yelled a warning, which the suspect failed to obey. The officer produced his gun, and the man started to flee; three shots were fired in rapid succession, and the figure collapsed behind a low, half-razed wall. When the three policemen approached the body, they found it lying prostrate, and the face showed its left profile. In the deceitful light of the dusk the face appeared familiar to the officer in charge. A realization struck him almost instantaneously. He ordered the other two men to go back to the Ministry and inform the higher instances of what had happened. After no more than a half-hour three vehicles, two cars and a van, hurriedly arrived and pulled up about a hundred yards from the scene. All low-ranking officers present were ordered to wait by the van that was to take some of them back to the Ministry as soon as the necessary investigation was completed. Several high-ranking officers, in addition to two high Party officials, headed resolutely for the spot where the patrol officer was awaiting them. They stood around the body as the patrol officer was telling them something quite eagerly, yet not loud enough to be heard anywhere farther than fifty or so yards. He gestured in the direction of the cars, then toward the ramshackle building, and finally toward the body lying at their feet. The Party officials and the high-ranking Thought Police officers stood and listened in silence, only from time to time exchanging looks full of significance and apparent worry. As they all headed back toward the vehicles, and a couple of medical examiners were placing the body in a bag, the patrol officer uttered the one sentence most of the people present there were able to hear. He said, “I think… I think I killed Goldstein!” A Party official placed his huge palm on the officer’s shoulder and the latter repentantly hung his head and spoke not a word more. They got into a car together, accompanied by the other Party official, the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner, who was to drive. The other officers got into the other car, while all the rest climbed into the van, which was also to transport the body.

Leonid Pasternak – On the Sofa
  1. The Relevant Files (excerpts) The File #1

Name:Alexander (Ivanovich)
Last Name: Pollitt
Date of Birth: 27/06/1960
Place of Birth: London, Airstrip One
Age: 23
Nationality: Oceanian
Height: 5 ft 9 in
Build: average
Weight: 176 lbs
Eyes: dark brown
Hair: chestnut brown
CurrentAddress:
Occupation: Thinkpol Sergeant
General Description:

Enlisted into the Academy at 14. Completed the basic course and training with excellence. Started working at the Ministry of Love immediately after graduation.

Dedicated, hardworking, persistent, trustworthy, and resourceful, at least in the matters of police business. If there wasn’t for his unquestionable loyalty to the Party and the State, he could also be described as ruthlessly ambitious. Apparently he has never had any side interests. Of slightly higher than average intelligence.

Son of John Ross Pollitt. During his father’s final years there was a rift between the father and the son, who accused the former on several occasions of thoughtcrime, in particular for leniency toward renegade Outer Party members, and proles in general.

The File #2

Name: John (Ross)
Last Name: Pollitt
Date of Birth: 15/10/1938
Place of Birth: London, Airstrip One
Age: deceased (Date of Death: 28/11/1983)
Nationality: Oceanian
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Build: average
Weight: 168 lbs
Eyes: dark brown
Hair: white
Current Address:
Occupation:
General Description:

(…)

A former People’s Commissar, a secret police official, and for a very short period of time an Inner Party member. His role in bringing Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford to Justice was immense and (once) widely known.

(…)

In addition to police and political work, he often volunteered for working on construction: he participated in the raising of the Victory Mansions, The Military and Art Victory Museum, and the Ministry of Love building. Because of his amiable nature, he was respected and even loved by many members of the Outer Party, as well as by proles.

Toward the end of his life he suffered from a variety of illnesses and symptoms, including bouts of temporary blindness and persecution mania.

  1. Interrogation

“State your name for the record, please.”

“Am I being interrogated?” (A pause.) “Alexander Ivanovich Pollitt.”

“Date of birth?”

“June 27th, 1960.”

“Occupation?”

“A Thinkpol sergeant.”

“You were recently promoted, weren’t you?”

“Yes, in February.”

Boris Joganson

“Could you describe in short the events which took place in the late afternoon of May 26th of this year and in which you also took part?

“While in a routine patrol with constables Jones and Lennon, I spotted a suspicious man in Victory 4 section. As soon as the suspect noticed us, he attempted to run. After he failed to heed my warning to freeze, I unholstered my gun and fired. I shot him three times. He was dead on the spot.”

“What did you do next?”

“We approached the body, I going ahead, and the two constables close behind me. As a senior officer, I ordered constables Jones and Lennon to return to the Ministry and inform the superior officers of the event that had taken place. I remained to stand guard.”

“This is not a standard procedure. It is usually the other way around – a senior officer informs his superiors, while constables remain at the crime scene until backup arrives. And why were you in such a hurry to inform the superiors about what had happened?”

(A pause.) “Because I… realized whom we got there.”

“And who was that supposed to be?”

“I’m pretty sure that was Emmanuel Goldstein.”

“You’re pretty sure? But not completely?”

“I am almost positive.”

“How do you know what Goldstein looks like?”

“I have seen his face in the picture, mostly in the newsreels and films during the Two Minutes of Hate, but also in books and leaflets handed out at theAcademy.”

“Is this the man you shot on May 26th?”

(A slight sound of the rustling of paper.)

“Yes, that is him.”

“And you think this is Emmanuel Goldstein?”

“As I said, I am pretty sure…” (The voice breaks off rather abruptly for no audible reason. This is followed by a couple of minutes of almost complete silence.)

“What do you think would a man like Emmanuel Goldstein be doing in that particular place at that particular time of day?”

“I assumed that their cell – I mean, the renegades’ – might be nearby.”

“Didn’t it strike you as odd that he was all by himself? Wasn’t one to expect that such an important man (important to them, of course) would be accompanied by at least a few others?”

“Well, yes, it did, but…”

“I want you to look at another photo for me. This… is the photo in which you have just positively identified the man you shot on May 26th; it was taken at the crime scene.”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Here is another photo of the man. Taken from the front on another occasion. Is that the same person in both photos?”

“I would say so, yes.”

“And he still looks like Emmanuel Goldstein, the traitor and the leader of The Resistance?” (The last two words are spoken with emphatic irony.)

“Yes, he does. To-to me…”

“This second photo is taken from his file.” (The sound of paper rustling.) “Could you, please, read the name written in the file?”

(A pause.)

(In a rather fainter voice than before): “George Henry Goldsmith.” (A pause) “I… I didn’t know…” (The voice breaks off.)

(A longer pause.)

“George Henry Goldsmith was an agent of the secret police. He resembled Goldstein quite closely, didn’t he?” (Silence) “He was a field agent, an invaluable asset. Those Resistance cells (the word Resistance spoken again with emphatic irony) may be hard to eradicate, but they are often cut off from one another, without any means of communication between them. It was to George Goldsmith’s credit that we have managed to uncover and destroy many of them.” (The voice suddenly gets warmer, even if just slightly): “You were not the first one he managed to fool.” (More coldly): “Unfortunately, you are the last one.”

(Silence; then the same voice continues):

“You see, it is not so easy to catch Emmanuel Goldstein. You don’t catch someone like that by accident. Our Police, including some of the best people this country has ever had, has been on his tail for years. But he persists, because that’s in his nature, it’s in the nature of what he is, what he represents, and not because he is particularly smart or resourceful. One can say so many bad things about him; he is the Traitor, with a capital T. He is the complete opposite of what we stand for, of what we believe in, of what is right. He is the sum of all the evils that seek to destroy us. But! if there is anything for which we could be grateful to him, it is that such a man exists. Without him masses of common people would not be able to fully realize what evils lurk and threaten our Revolution at all times, and they would not know what kind of struggle we have had to put up and what kind of victories we have had to gain repeatedly. Without him, there wouldn’t be the Revolution, there wouldn’t be, in a way, even us.”

(Silence)

“What’s going to happen to me now?”

(End of record)

  1. The Public Announcement

“For many a year now the forces of Evil have plotted against us, sought to attack us, to destroy us, to annihilate us. Our enemies have burned our crops, poisoned our waters, raped our women, murdered our children, and repeatedly tried to seduce some among us, to instill unrest and confusion, to plant the seed of doubt into our hearts and our minds. Yet, no matter how many times they have tried, they have always failed, for the right is not with them – it is with us! That is the reason they will never succeed!

People of Oceania! Two days ago a man was murdered. It happened here, in the streets of our glorious city. Some malicious rumours soon spread, saying that the murdered man was no other than Emmanuel Goldstein. What glorious news that would have been! Had it only been true! It was an asinine attempt to introduce and spread a vile lie which was to convince us that our greatest Enemy was finally no more, and to lull us into the false sense of security that he had perished and that it was all over. In the meantime, they hoped, they’d continue to plot in secret and launch their insidious actions against us, so that they could vanquish and humiliate us once and for all.

The man who was murdered was not Emmanuel Goldstein. His name was George Goldsmith. He was one of the best among us, a loyal son of our Party. His biography was impeccable and his work immeasurably valuable in fighting those very dark forces which took his life. His contribution in bringing the traitors Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford to Justice was immense; he never shied away even from the hardest physical work as he repeatedly volunteered and helped build the Victory Mansions, The Military and Art Victory Museum, and the building of the Ministry of Love. Because of his good nature, he was universally loved by all of us who had the pleasure to know him. And now he is dead.

People of Oceania! No victory of our enemies is a final victory, just like no defeat we suffer is ever going to be the final one. It is in times of trouble like these that we find our strength to rise again, to fight even harder than ever before, and to strive to someday deal the final blow to the very man who wants to see us crawling helplessly on the ground, as well as to all those who are blind enough to trust and follow him. In his enormous hubris and hatred, however, he not only failed to trick us, for we have seen through him as we always do, but he also lost his mask in the process. And now, for the first time, we are all able to see what he really looks like, we can show who is the man behind the mask which we all know so very well, but which we so far have mistaken for his real face. Shout his name, brothers and sisters! Shout from the top of your lungs!”

(As thousands of voices hatefully chant the name of Emmanuel Goldstein almost in perfect unison, a face appears on the screen. The face is of a much younger man than the one the people of Oceania have seen before. It is perhaps just as thin, if not precisely as lined, and the hair on the face and the head is not white, but chestnut brown.)

Autor: Željko V. Mitić

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