- NOTE: I originally posted the following as a Facebook note.
Here’s a very interesting question from a Yahoo user:
“Can anyone explain to me how George Orwell can be a socialist and write a book like 1984?”
I tried to read Orwell’s 1984 in college, but I didn’t and couldn’t finish it. Orwell was a statist. It was in the 1930s when he started to consider himself a socialist.
My own evaluation of Orwell’s political views and affiliation is that he’s a CONFUSED statist or socialist. He’s one of those who embraced socialism yet denounced the totalitarian practices of socialist dictatorships. He supported socialism because he believed the system is pro-poor, pro-equality and against Fascism.
Orwell was one of the very intelligent, creative men who defined their politics NOT by what they want, but by what they loathe. People like them base their judgments on emotion, not on reason.
He’s politically confused because he believed that Socialism is opposite to Fascism. He was greatly influenced by what he witnessed in Spain. Like many socialists and communists, Orwell thought Socialism and Fascism are opposites. What he didn’t know is that these two isms are twin evils of totalitarianism. They are simply two sides of the same collectivist, totalitarian ideology.
Orwell’s 1984 novel shows his malevolent universe premise, and presents man (through the book’s protagonists) as totally helpless and doomed. In 1984 Orwell portrays a powerful totalitarian society that is TECHNOLOGICALLY advanced, where Evil triumphs over Good.
Another dystopian novel that has a malevolent universe premise is The Hunger Games.
But a totalitarian society– that which denies man’s rights, liberty and freedom– will NEVER become a technologically advanced society. It is, of course, very much possible that some scientists and geniuses who live in that society would decide or be willing to collaborate and cooperate with the totalitarian government in exchange for scientific funding, money, academic or social prestige, political position, etc. The men of the mind and self-esteem– or those who value freedom and rights– would find a way to get out of this evil society. Others– those who refused to cooperate but captured– would be forced to cooperate and work as slaves at gun point. Such a society would never develop into a highly scientific, technologically advanced society.
An absolute totalitarian society would not go beyond what North Korea had ever reached. It would stagnate like North Korea– and to protect and preserve its absolute political power, it would silence dissenters and be compelled to build and maintain concentration camps.
Or: it would collapse from within like Soviet Russia. China, on the other hand, did not self-destruct. But China was forced to BETRAY and COMPROMISE Mao’s principles and policies. Instead of keeping its Maoist foundation, China was forced to open its economy to the outside world and allow private property to flourish. This compromise or Maoist BETRAYAL saved China from inevitable, imminent self-destruction.
IMHO, Orwell’s 1984 novel presents an IMPOSSIBLE, NON-REALISTIC totalitarian society. That’s why I didn’t– and couldn’t– finish it. The man, who was undeniably creative and a great writer was wrong and flawed, ideologically and philosophically.