2 + 2 = 5, Why does two plus two equal five? There is no mathematical or logical basis to support the claim that 2+2=5. It may seem like a simple mathematical error, but it has a complex and intriguing history that spans centuries. often used as an example of propaganda, which is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs or actions in a particular direction. 

The Origins of 2+2=5

The earliest known use of the phrase “2+2=5” dates back to a letter written in 1813 by the poet Lord Byron to his wife Annabella Milbanke. In the letter, Byron quips that he would be glad to prove that 2+2=4 if he could, but that it would give him much greater pleasure to convert 2+2 into 5.

-I know that two and two make four – & should be glad to prove it too if I could -though I must say if by any sort of process, I could convert 2&2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure-

Lord Byron

but this phrase become more politic with Qu’est-ce que le Tiers-État? (What Is the Third Estate?) written by Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès in January 1789, just before the start of the French Revolution. Sieyès wrote it as a response to a request from finance minister Jacques Necker for ideas on how to organize the Estates-General, and it contains political ideas about the role of the Third Estate in French society.

Consequently if it be claimed that under the French constitution two hundred thousand individuals out of twenty-six million citizens constitute two-thirds of the common will, only one comment is possible: it is a claim that two and two make five.

What Is the Third Estate?

The idea behind the phrase is that if the government can convince people to believe something that is obviously untrue, then it can control their thoughts and actions in other areas as well. 

The phrase gained greater notoriety in the mid-19th century, during the political upheavals in France. The writer Victor Hugo used the phrase in his scathing critique of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who had seized power and declared himself emperor of France. Hugo used the phrase “2+2=5” to illustrate the absurdity of the emperor’s policies and the importance of truth and reason in the face of oppression.

Hugo wrote an article titled Napoléon le Petit (Napoleon the Small) which was a scathing critique of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the First President of the French Republic. In 1852, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seized power through a coup d’état and declared himself the emperor of France. He ruled the country with a harsh policy, resulting in the deportation of many people. Some, like Victor Hugo, willingly exiled themselves from France.

While in exile, Hugo used the phrase “2+2 = 5” to illustrate the absurdity of the emperor’s policies and to emphasize the importance of truth and reason in the face of oppression.

Chapter 8 Name AXIOMS (or accepting truth without proof) are as follows.

You are a captain of artillery at Berne, Monsieur Louis Bonaparte; you have necessarily a smattering of algebra and geometry. Here are certain axioms of which you have, probably, some idea.

Two and two make four.

Between two given points, the straight line is the shortest way.

A part is less than the whole.

Now, cause seven million five hundred thousand voters to declare that two and two make five, that the straight line is the longest way, that the whole is less than a part; cause eight millions, ten millions, a hundred millions of voters so to declare, and you will not have advanced a single step.

Well—you will be surprised to hear it—there are axioms in probity, in honesty, in justice, as there are axioms in geometry; and moral truth is no more at the mercy of a vote than is algebraic truth.

The notion of good and evil is insoluble by universal suffrage. It is not given to a ballot to make the false true, or injustice just. Human conscience is not to be put to the vote.

Now, do you understand?

Look at that lamp, that little obscure light, unnoticed, forgotten in a corner, lost in the darkness. Look at it, admire it. It is hardly visible; it burns in solitude. Make seven million five hundred thousand mouths breathe upon it at once, and you will not extinguish it. You will not even cause the flame to flicker. Cause a hurricane to blow; the flame will continue to ascend, straight and pure, towards Heaven.

That lamp is Conscience.

That flame is the flame which illumines, in the night of exile, the paper on which I now write.

The full text of the book can be found at Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20580/20580-h/20580-h.htm Or search Google with Napoléon le Petit or Napoleon the Small.

The phrase was later used by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky in his 1864 work Notes from Underground. In the book, the protagonist argues that human beings have the free will to choose what they believe, even if it goes against logic and reason. To illustrate this point, he uses the example of “2+2=5,” implying that people can choose to believe something that is objectively untrue.

The Cultural Significance

The phrase “2+2=5” has become a cultural symbol of propaganda and the manipulation of truth for political gain. It serves as a reminder of the dangers of unchecked power and the importance of critical thinking and questioning of authority.

During the Soviet Union’s inception of Joseph Stalin’s Five-Year Economic Plan in 1928 to adapt to a centralized industrial and agricultural society, the phrase gained even greater prominence. The Soviet government used propaganda posters featuring the slogan “2+2=5” to encourage workers to meet their production quotas and to emphasize the power of the state over individual thinking.

2+2=5 Poster
The poster read “The Arithmetic of an Alternative Plan: 2 + 2 plus the Enthusiasm of the Workers = 5,” implying that the hard work and enthusiasm of Soviet workers could make up for any gaps in production numbers.

While the poster is an example of Soviet propaganda, it’s important to note that the phrase “2 + 2 = 5” had been used in literature and political commentary prior to this. Its use in the Soviet context was a reflection of the government’s emphasis on productivity and the prioritization of industrialization over other concerns.

The phrase “2+2=5” has been used in various contexts throughout history, including by the writer George Orwell in his 1943 essay, “Looking Back on the Spanish War.” Orwell’s use of the phrase reflected his concerns about the manipulation of truth and the dangers of authoritarianism.

According to some accounts, Orwell was struck by a speech given by Field Marshal Hermann Wilhelm Göring, a prominent figure in Nazi Germany. Göring had reportedly stated that “If the leader says Two plus two equals five, then it does.” This chilling statement was an example of the way in which authoritarian leaders seek to control reality and shape the beliefs of their followers.

Its essence lies in accepting that 2 + 2 = 5 is accepting that it is true without proof. This is the entrance to the Cult of Personality. Just one person says it and believes it without argument. This absolute dominance would be the dream state of every government, one in which the people obeyed beyond doubt. Say anything you believe, even if it’s clearly against logic. In the novel 1984, the example of the Nazi Party used propaganda as an important tactic in governing the country.

One of the key ways that propaganda works is by appealing to people’s emotions rather than their reason. Propaganda uses persuasive techniques such as emotional appeals, loaded language, and selective presentation of facts to sway people’s opinions. By doing so, it can create a false sense of reality that is difficult for people to question or challenge.

The phrase “2+2=5” illustrates the power of propaganda to create a false sense of reality. By convincing people to believe something that is objectively untrue, propaganda can manipulate people’s thoughts and actions in a way that serves the interests of those in power.

propaganda is brainwashing or coercion depending on the situation. To create strong faith in the target group to believe or follow the desired goal. The word is of Catholic origin. In which Pope Gregory XV established a unit called the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (now Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples), simplistically translated as the Apostolic Unit. Send missionaries to travel to every corner of the world to persuade people to believe in God.

That was the beginning of Propaganda. Spreading faith about which leads to a power base by using every means to transform people from within. whether it is a symbol to create unity Building faith to propagate and protect Initially, it may be used in a good way. But later it became an attack on rivals and raised himself to be better. Including giving incomplete facts, hiding, hiding, using many people to drag them away, etc., so that most people see that what their own side has done is good and beautiful.

Regenerate responseIn reality, the phrase “2+2=5” has become a popular cultural reference to the dangers of propaganda and the importance of critical thinking and skepticism in evaluating information.