NationStates Jolt Archive

The Politics of George Orwell

The Holy Word
03-08-2004, 22:32
I've C&Ped this exchange from one of the "capitalists versus communists- who is harder" threads on the grounds that it might interest people who avoid those threads, but like talking about books.

Yes, Eric Blair did become hostile to the Communist or Stalinist party of the time.
Yep, I said that.
He opposed what becomes of a communist society. At first, it works as an ideal society, then disentigrates quite quickly into a totalitarian dictatorship. I oppose this, and so did he. I doubt that after he saw what happened to the USSR he still supported Communism. And anyway, the Spanish Civil War came before 1984 was published.
Please provide some proof that Orwell believed communism would automatically lead to a totalitarian dictatorship. I think you're at best ignorant about Orwell's politics (have you read Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in Paris and London?) and at worst deliberately dishonest.
No, I do not misrepresent Animal Farm. You say that the farmers are the representitives of capitalism. I disagree with you here. Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Revolution. Who do the pigs and the rest of the farm animals represent, in comparison to the russian revolution? They represent the Bolsheviks, the communists, the Leninists. Who is Snowball? Lenin. Who is Napolean? Stalin. Stalin forces Lenin and all the Leninist ideas and Lenin loyalists away when he takes power. So does Napolean. Now, in the Russian Revolution, who do the communists revolt from? The Czar's, the White Army, the Nobles, the Monarchists. Who do the farm animals revolt from? The men. So, the men represent the Monarchists. And later in the book, what happens to the pigs? They turn into men. So, what does this represent in the Russian Revolution? The people who broke away from the Monarchists who ran a dictatorship, the same people (like Stalin) become the Monarchists running a dictatorship, so the new leader is the same as the old leader. No, it is obvious that Capitalists are not represented at all in Animal Farm.
Snowball is blatantly Trotsky not Lenin. Look at the historical parallels. Trotsky was expelled from Russia by Stalin. Snowball is expelled from the farm by Napolean. Trotsky was murdered by the Russian Secret police in Mexico. Snowball is murdered by Napolean's private army of dogs. In my view this is one of the main weaknesses of the book. Orwell's hatred for Stalin blinded him to the fact that Trotsky was just as dictorial. However, how do you reconcile your view that Orwell hated all things communist with the sympathetic portrayal of the Snowball character?
Now, having shown your opinion that Snowball was Lenin to be factually incorrect I move on to your claim that the farmers do not in anyway represent capitalism. How do you explain Old Boxer's comments on the farmers that "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough , he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and the rest he keeps for himself." Does that not sound to you like a typical Marxist criticism of the ruling class? You also have to explain why one of the scathing criticisms in the book is against Napolean for his secret deals with Frederick and Pilkington- for example the deal with Pilkington for timber. And what do you think is the historical parallel for the comment by Pilkington that "Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm." To me that is an obvious analogy for the normalisation of the relationship between Stalin and the West after the Second World War. For us to accept your analysis that the farmers do not represent capitalism we need to accept that either a)there was some secret deal pre the Russian Revolution between the Bolsheviks and the forces of the Tzar. I'm not aware of any historical evidence for this, are you? Or b) that despite the fact that every other event in the book has a direct historical parallel, this event was entirely made up by Orwell. That really isn't a very credible answer.
OK, if what you say is true, if the Capitalists were truly the evil ones in 1984, then lets see what happened.
Not what I said. I said that 1984 saw Stalinism, fascism and capitalism as equally tolitarian regimes.
Has the UK become anything like Oceania in 1984? No. Has the USA? No. But has the USSR? Yes! The USSR did become the awful society in 1984.
Yes to all three. Allow me to demonstrate.
The KGB, secret police,
The CIA/FBI (US). MI5/MI6 (UK)
The introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland (UK), the internment without trial of Japanese citizens in the Second World War and Gutanemo Bay (US)
of torture,
Coalition troops torturing Iraqis (Both)
people swept away in the middle of the night because they opposed the government,
Homeland Security Bill (US), Prevention of Terrorism Act (UK)
those things are in 1984 and the USSR. If what you say is true, that the evil in 1984 was Capitalism, then George Orwell was wrong.
No, the evil in 1984 was all three systems. You are right that Oceania was Stalinism. But what do you think Eurasia and Eastasia represent?
Allright, Orwell opposed Communism, he opposed the hell communism turns out to be, so he wrote Animal Farm at a time when many thinkers and intellectuals in Europe and the US did not think Communism was all that bad. They had not seen into what really happens when a Communistic society disentegrates into Stalin's Russia.
No, he opposed Stalinism and capitalism as I have demonstrated clearly with references to the texts.
Then, to further enforce this message, he wrote 1984 to show what it is really like in a the dictatorship that comes out of failed communism, to try and discourage a communist movement in the UK or any other country. He thought if people knew what happens to a communist government, they would be discouraged to try to set up one.
It doesen't matter how many times you repeat something if you provide no evidence to back up your claims.

Faeries live at the bottom of my garden.
Faeries live at the bottom of my garden.
Faeries live at the bottom of my garden.
Faeries live at the bottom of my garden.
Faeries live at the bottom of my garden.

He was right
Yes he was. Capitalism and Stalinism are both reprehensible systems
and the USA, the UK, and many other western European nations did not fall into the communist trap. And if you need any other information, talk to anyone that lived in Poland or anywhere else in Eastern Europe during the Warsaw Pact years.
Strawman. Back up your claims about communism with reference to non-Stalinist/Leninist movements. Either the Paris Commune or POUM will be fine.
03-08-2004, 22:47
I agree with the majority of your interpretations but what you say of the men who previously owned the farm in evidence that they represented capitalism could also be applied to the Czars. I think the other farms represent capitalist nations trading with Stalin, but you would have to look further within their descriptions to see specifically who they were.
The Holy Word
03-08-2004, 23:40
*Bumped because I've fixed the quotes*