Oceania had no laws—it didn’t need them.
Crime was simply whatever the authorities said it was.
There are no laws in Oceania from 1984, why then is it such a terrifying and repressing place?
The answer to this question lies in the dual nature of laws—on the one hand, they exist so that people will know how to behave, and on the other hand, they exist to protect people from arbitrary accusation and persecution. Laws delineate the boundaries of behavior so that everyone is on the same page. In Oceania, as stated in Chapter 1 of 1984, “nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws,” but if Winston was caught writing in his diary, “it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labor camp.” Since the law is unwritten—technically, there are no laws—a person would have no recourse if he feels he is being punished unfairly. The government in Oceania has unlimited and ultimate control. A person can be vaporized just because the government believes that he has violated one of its unwritten laws, or really, for any reason whatsoever. In the absence of a clearly delineated code of conduct to which both the accuser and accused must adhere, the victimized party is rendered defenseless to authoritarian abuse.
Much like in Oceania, when artEAST directors decided to ban a member artist who had not broken any rules, they did not inform her of their decision, they would not reveal who was involved in making it, and when she asked for a reason, they threatened her, told her the case was closed, and stonewalled her.