I really like most of them, in particular that gorgeous Canadian flag. The American flag looks a bit bland but blandness is the most American thing a flag could be. And the logic for the British flag as Cromwellian is quite correct, even if the flag turns out somewhat to the bland side.Provinces of Oceania.
Oceania operates on a provincial level. We know that, as the narration describes Airstrip One (Great Britain) as the "third most populous province of Oceania." The provincial nature of Oceania is later detailed in Goldstein's book. In it Oceania is described as having no singular capital. This keeps the peoples of its vast territory from feeling like they're under the control of a distant colonial master. Instead local administrative centres exist, and they always pull their administrators from the local population. In what has to be Ingsoc's singular positive characteristic it's a very strict meritocracy and doesn't concern itself with racism. As it says in Goldstein's book...
So before I go on I want to acknowledge the good people behind the Hearts of Iron IV mod "Hearts of Iron: 1984" The mod has a few game mode options, and one of them is to play a situation where each superstate is broken down into provinces, all of which are grouped into ironclad alliances built around said superstates. Oceania's were where I got the idea for some of what I will present. I didn't use their breakdown exactly, but there are similarities and I was inspired by some of the flags they used. So I'm getting that out there. If you enjoy HoI IV? Give it a go. It's basically a battle royale in the disputed zones, and a lot of love and care has gone into the focus trees. You can tell the people behind it know their stuff.
Anyway on with the show. Provincial flags.
In my mind provincial flags would have played a HUGE role in early Oceanic history. One only needs to look at the various Soviet propaganda pieces that made use of all of the Soviet Socialist Republic flags to represent the diverse parts of a greater whole. And seeing as, in my mind, part of English Socialism's defining early traits was a reverence for shared Anglo-Saxon cultural traditions? There would be a desire to reflect that. At least early on. Of course provincial flags would grow less prominent as the regime refines itself. I imagine that, by the early 70s, provincial flags were gone. Not formally abolished or ceremonially lowered. It's just that one day...there was only the Ingsoc flag. No mention to the provincial flags was made again, propaganda was updated, old photos and posters edited, and the existence of these banners just swept down the memory hole.
What would they have looked like though? Well I wanted to, as I said, keep some sense of cultural integrity in check. In my mind early English Socialism made a huge deal of itself being a socialist movement grounded in the cultural traditions of the Anglosphere. The nobility and monarchy was toppled in Britain, the industrial capitalistic giants of America were overthrown, but for a while "England was still England," and America was still America, and so on (this is a bit of a twist of how Orwell imagined "English Socialism" would develop in his The Lion and the Unicorn essay).
Still, the regime needed a central emblem. The V for Victory was settled on. It had proven very popular during WWII, and though this was a new regime they fashioned themselves the inheritors of all the best part of the society that had come before. V for Victory could mean anything. Victory of the working man over the forces of capitalism. Victory of the new trans-Oceanic state over the forces of Soviet Eurasia. Victory for the Party. It was also easy to draw, easy to reproduce. More than any other emblem of the regime- torches, crossed pens and shovels, shaking hands, the V was bold and easy for the masses to recognize.
America actually has multiple administrative capitals, but early on they all saw themselves as part of "America," the industrial heart of Oceania. I'm going to take another thing from Hearts of Iron 1984 and claim that, if Oceania does have a singular capital, it's in America. No, it's not New York or Washington. It's in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, in what was once known as Colorado. This location is only known to a few high ranking Inner Party members, and its location is never discussed. Its location- deep in the heart of continental North America and protected by both major oceans and the vast terrain of the continent- made it the perfect location for the upper echelon of the Party clustered around Big Brother to retreat to once the Purges of the 60s were finished with. It's here in this mountain military installation that the various directives to the administrative capitals across Oceania come from.
Again, so few people even know of its existence that Oceania appears decentralized. And in many ways it is. The Party brains in Cheyenne never interfere in a provincial administration centre's means of conducting its own affairs. Propaganda is even decentralized in some ways (as I said, I could see Simón Bolívar playing the same role in South America that Cromwell plays in Airstrip One for propaganda purposes). Each provincial administrative capital draws on its own populace. That they all receive their marching orders from one centre is both acknowledged and dismissed via doublethink.
New York hosted an English Socialist Party Congress in the 1960s. Allegedly attended by Jones, Rutherford, and Aaronson. Of course that was just an unsubstantiated rumour that was dismissed after all three confessed to meeting with the Eurasian General Staff on the date of the Party Congress
And how did they get to Eurasia? Well they left for Siberia from a hidden airbase in....
So I was tempted to merge Canada in with the US for a variety of reasons. The first is that a key distinguishing feature between the US and Canada is the latter's continued loyalty to the British Crown. Which would have been abolished in the lead-up to Oceania's formation. In fact it was the position of many a left-wing Canadian prior to the re-alignment after WWII that Canada ought to further integrate into the US and leave ties to Britain in the past.
That being said, I opted to keep Canada separate for a few reasons. First, merging Canada into the US is boring. It's almost a trope as far as alt history goes. And as a proud Canuck myself, I say enough is enough
Secondly, like I said earlier, I see English Socialism as playing up its distinctly Anglo-Saxon characteristics. Not so much in an overtly racist way, but more in a cultural chauvinist sort of way. So I can see the appeal in maintaining Canada's identity on the North American continent, at least at first before the totalitarian swing gets going.
Thirdly, while Canada's relationship to the US has been defined by Canada's loyalty to the Crown I could argue that, by the 1950s, a distinct Canadian culture had formed which was neither British or American. If the goal of Oceania's decentralized nature is to keep a group from being lorded over by foreigners, then having Canadian Party members run Canada makes sense.
Finally, Orwell mentions Canada specifically a few times in Nineteen Eighty-Four. First as a place where the Party claims Capitalists prior to the Revolution would send you to toil if you disobeyed them, and then again as the spot where Jones, Rutherford, and Aaronson supposedly took off from to betray state secrets to Eurasia. Now the validity of both statements is suspect at best, but I find it strange that even in a world where the US and British Empire merged that Canada would get some distinct mentions separate from the US. So I opted to keep it somewhat unique.
The maple leaf in the flag is taken from WLM King's proposed national flag for Canada. King was a proponent of greater US-Canadian integration by the way.
So the Union Jack, minus the Cross of St. Patrick. Why? How? A few things.
The first is that, as I said, I view English Socialism's genius as being a form of socialism rooted in Anglo-Saxon cultural norms. Abandoning the Union Jack would likely not have gone over well in immediate post-revolution Britain. And besides, there's that AS heritage that the Party would want to play into. The crosses might be problematic as the Ingsoc regime is very clearly aggressively state atheist. My defences, however, are such. First, this is relatively early on. My own theory is that the regime gets more intolerant of religion as it becomes more nakedly obsessed with power, meaning that early on you probably have English Socialists who value the Union Jack for cultural reasons that outweigh anti-religious sentiment. Secondly? Tying back to Cromwell...Cromwell used a version of the Union Jack. The pieces are there, at least, for the regime to use it in Britain during their early days. The removal of the Cross of St. Patrick does represent an old British socialist goal though, the reunification of Ireland...
Goldstein's book makes it clear that the English Socialist movement grew out of the earlier socialist movements and inherited much, from their slogans, programmes, and phraseology. In fact the book remarks, almost ironically, that by moving to ensure economical inequality is made permanent the regime actually accomplished the earlier socialist movement's primary policy- private property has been abolished by concentrating it in the hands of a collectivized few (Inner Party).
I go on about this to say that despite Ingsoc becoming a nakedly totalitarian ideology it did carry over many aspects of earlier Utopian socialism. The left wing of the British body politic has always been pro-Irish reunification, seeing the Partition as a legacy of colonial rule. This, mixed with Ireland's own troubled history with Britain and the new state's decentralized philosophy, led to the easy decision to include Ulster in the province of Airstrip Two, the island of Ireland. Any residual resistance from the pro Unionist population would be dealt with via arrests and trials for treason or the reassurance that both Airstrips One and Two were part of a grander Oceanic whole.
Goldstein's book mentions that Oceania controls "...the Atlantic islands including the British Isles..." This says to me that Iceland and the Faroe Islands are under Oceanic control. That makes sense, as the UK and US administered the islands in the wake of Denmark's surrender to Nazi Germany. In this world a new war with Soviet Eurasia erupts soon after WWII ends, meaning that it's very likely American and British soldiers were still occupying these islands when Oceania began to take shape. There's not much here, other than the fact that I used Iceland's flag as a base. The similarities to the Union Jack are also a neat coincidence, leading to a sort of uniformity among some of Oceania's North Atlantic holdings.
Oceania's core territory contains Africa south of the River Congo. I've seen some maps or discussion where people assume all of Africa is disputed territory, but that's not accurate. Near the end of the book, after Winston's "rehabilitation," there's talk of a massive battle in Africa. The Eurasian Army is apparently rushing south at an unstoppable pace, and is threatening the Congo itself. Winston gets incredibly agitated, claiming that for the first time he could remember the territory of "Oceania itself" was threatened. He worries that if Southern Africa falls Oceania will be "split in two" as its ports in the Cape are apparently vital to connecting the Americas with Australia. So Africa south of the Congo is very much Oceanian, not disputed territory.
The flag itself was a challenge. The orange-white-blue of the Union of South Africa might be entirely socialist-friendly, and could be seen as a symbol of Apartheid. Which the Party would likely eradicate, bot to keep the native African populace in Southern Africa from feeling put-upon by colonial forces and because, as stated above, the Party is an extreme meritocracy. It has no time for racism. Seriously. It's Ingsoc's best quality by a country mile. So, it's conceivable that the old South African tricolour might not be suitable. The ANC flag then? Eh...maybe...but given the timeline we're working with? I see the South African Labour Party as Southern Africa's Ingsoc wing forbearer, not the ANC. In any case, I opted to keep the Dutch-inspired flag. First as a sign of cultural continuity, and secondly because the options for a flag at the time would have been limited. To an English Socialist in the 1950s? Better the orange-white-blue tricolour than a red or blue British colonial ensign.
Australia, New Zealand, and the surrounding islands. Australasia is actually a vital province in Oceania, as it's the primary staging ground for attacks upon Eastasia and the attempted re-conquest of India. It's why South Africa is so key. It's the gateway from which the industrial centres and armies in the Americas and Britain get to Australasia.
Australasia's flag is based off of the Eureka Flag, the battle standard of the Eureka Rebellion. The Rebellion, and the flag that represents it, are sort of unique in that both the far right and far left in Australia claims them as their own. What you think they stand for tends to be a test of your own political orientation. In this case, it would be an excellent substitute for the old Australian ensigns. English Socialism's takeover of the Anglosphere would allow them to claim the Eureka Rebellion as their own.
The Caribbean falls well within Oceania's purview. The provincial administration probably grew out of Britain's old colonial administration. The flag is based off of the West Indies Federation flag. The WIF was an attempt by the UK to merge its holdings in the Caribbean into one federated self-governing Dominion, ala Canada or Australia. The project fell apart due to internal discord. The WIF was proposed around the time that English Socialism was taking root and Oceania was forming, so let's say the design was floating around in some file that the Revolutionary regime found
The Ingsoc regime's control over Latin America is the biggest headscratcher of Oceania's internal structure, even once you work out how everything could have occurred. Unlike the US and British Commonwealth? There's an entirely unique culture in Latin America removed from the common Anglo-Saxon connective tissue that bound the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and Southern Africa together.
In my mind the Latin American issue is how Oceania's leadership settled on the decentralized structure. It was, to be sure, a proposal floating around in the English Socialist regime's early days. An effective way to govern the vast territory they now governed. Latin America, however, was falling into civil war and political uncertainty. With its manpower and vast natural resources? It was decided to intervene. In my mind this was Oceania's first test as a unified power. They were able to effectively put down the fighting and restore order. Of course the goal was always to annex these territories, but then the above-mentioned problem came up. These territories were mostly Spanish and Portugese speaking, and they were not bound by the same cultural threads that connected the rest of Oceania.
It's here that Oceanic leadership adopted the decentralized proposal. The English Socialist Party absorbed ideologically sympathetic movements across Central and South America, and used a carrot and stick approach. Loyalty to the Party line was expected, and English was promoted over Spanish and Portuguese (this mirrored the Neo-Bolshevik promotion of Russian over all other languages in Eurasia). This proved easier than some had anticipated. The US and, to a lesser extent, UK had been players in Latin America for centuries. English wasn't unknown, and there was a class of educated professionals proficient in the language ready to lead the charge in exchange for favourable Party status. In exchange for promoting English and Party loyalty the Latin American Party leaders were given autonomy to run their provinces as they saw fit within the confines of the broader Ingsoc system.
Boliva makes up the southern portion of Central America and the northern portion of South America. It conforms to Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Boliva. The flag is based on that of Gran Columbia, the dominant state in the region and predecessor of Columbia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The name, however, comes from Boliva. Which itself was taken from Simón Bolívar. As I've said before, I see Oceanic propaganda as being very localized. Broad themes are repeated across the nation, but each province has its own unique touches. In the British Isles Cromwell would be mentioned, and the pre-Revolutionary era would be described as a squalid world lorded over by capitalists, the aristocracy, and the monarchy. In South America, however, that rhetoric would be replaced by Simón Bolívar taking the pre-Revolutionary pioneer role, and Spanish colonialism replacing the British class system as the historic villain.
The province takes its English name from the Río de la Plata. It comprises of territory once known as Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, along with the Falklands and South Georgian Islands. It represents Oceania's southernmost point, and its ports form a key part of the South American-South African-Australian sea lane that is vital to Oceania's wars in India and against Eastasia. It's also a massive producer of agricultural goods that are vital to fuelling the Oceanic war machine.
Brazil is a vast place, even among the Oceanic superstate. It not only produces war goods and agricultural products on par with some of the other provinces of Oceania, it's also unique in that stretches of it remain unexplored. The vast Amazon rain forests are a mystery to most citizens of Oceania, and they seem to hold infinite possibilities. Some say that's where Goldstein is hiding, deep in the jungle beyond the reach of the Thought Police. Others share rumours they heard about the Ministry of Peace operating large labs deep in the Amazon, testing experimental weapons that will someday win the war. Still others claim that the Amazon rain forests are home to some of the harshest forced labour camps in Oceania. Where only the most vile traitors and thought criminals are sent. Worked to death in the heat.
How many of this is true or just speculation is left up to the imagination. The Party itself, nor any of its provincial branches, is eager to disclose what really goes on in the deep jungles of Brazil. In all likelihood the "uncivilized" tribes of Brazil, if any of them are left, are among some of the last free people in the world.
Brazil looks weirdly good though.