In 1984, Orwell begins with three paradoxes: war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. Throughout the novel, he clarifies and alters the meanings of these paradoxes as the plot advances. While these paradoxes are used to introduce the concept of doublethink in the beginning, they finish with many meanings which make sense in context to the dystopian society of 1984.
Orwell uses the slogan "war is peace" to convey the terrible exploitation of people in his society. As Winton watches the telescreen, it broadcasts a story of a victory in India, after which it stated that "the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grams to twenty" (28). Whenever news of victory appear, Winston learns to expect a reduction of some ration. The war is used as a buffer against any unhappiness which could result from the decreased chocolate ration. In this way, the Party prevents any rebellious tendencies from appearing. As Winston does his stretches, he reminisces about his parents, and mentions that "war had been literally continuous" (33). Here, it appears that the war can be used as propaganda to raise patriotic fervor for Oceania. The continued footage of victory in battle raises the morale of the people as well as increases the people's support for the country, which the party needs to survive. Furthermore, one can hypothesize that the war may not even be happening, that the Party may just be lying in order to create more propaganda to maintain its mind control. However, Goldstein's manifesto explains that the purpose of war is to "use up products of the machine without raising the general standard of living" (188) because it became "clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction of a hierarchical society" (189). Orwell demonstrates that war can be used to slow development, because, as technology advanced, financial conditions became better exponentially.