George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist, Utopian Socialist.


Victor Pross

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George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist and Utopian Socialist.

“BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” is a phrase that has been embedded into the artery of popular culture. Most people know what the phrase refers to, that the idiom refers to some ominous prying, omnipresent eyes of authority.

The British author George Orwell, pen name for Eric Blair, accomplished eminence in the late 1940s as the author of two radiant satires attacking totalitarianism---1984 and Animal Farm.

I984 is set in the future of a statist world. The main character, Winston Smith, struggles to live in a world where there is no privacy, where the government controls every aspect of the individual’s life. The symbol of the government is Big Brother, a fictitious leader who is said to “benevolently” watch over his people. In practice, the citizens live in fear, and must struggle to keep their own thoughts secure from the meddling eyes of the government.

1984 represents a symbolic psychological truth: That when individuals are no longer able to differentiate between objective truth and lies, where the faculty of reason is manipulated to say 2+2=5, then the State can wield total power over them. Orwell, the unabashed socialist writes a brilliant expose of totalitarianism. But Orwell never repented his socialist ideology and one has to ask how such a dazzling denunciator of statism could have held fast to collectivist beliefs.

Orwell, who described fictitious "doublethink" (the ability to hold two contradictory concepts in one's mind simultaneously) in 1984, was guilty of that very artifice in real life. Ironically, he held contradictory thoughts in his head on purpose and, as such, was guilty of his own brand of doublethink.

Orwell always believed in the perceived morality of socialism but railed against the ferociousness of totalitarianism. He believed in the attainability of egalitarianism without the drawbacks of dictatorship. He was intelligent enough to understand the efficacy of capitalism but chose collectivism instead. He was a prototypical utopian socialist dreaming of a bloodless utopia.

He knew the truth of totalitarianism and described it brilliantly but he did not decry the very socialist ideology that would lead, inexorably, to totalitarianism--as indeed it had already done, manifestly, in his lifetime.

And, yes, he was unrepentant about it. He held fast to his left-wing views until he died in 1950. In Orwell's utopian socialist state, 1984 would have been the first book on the pyre.

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George Orwell – Big Brother is watching you!

Edited by Victor Pross
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In her Letters Ayn Rand attacked Animal Farm. She had a low opinion of 1984 also. Her book Anthem was a refutation of the idea that there could be technological progress in a slave society. I find Orwell had many brilliant insights and should be read after you read Ayn Rand.

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In her Letters Ayn Rand attacked Animal Farm. She had a low opinion of 1984 also. Her book Anthem was a refutation of the idea that there could be technological progress in a slave society. I find Orwell had many brilliant insights and should be read after you read Ayn Rand.

Nazi Germany was a slave society also. Somehow these slave keepers managed to organize their engineers and scientists to produce the forerunners of every non-nuclear weapons system our armed forces now use. Cruise Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, the Jet Plane. We even co-opted the Head Rocketeer Werner von Braun * whose designs helped put Americans on the Moon. For a society that cannot have technological progress the Nazis managed quite well. If Hitler were not such a putz, he would have had jet planes in 1940 and a Swastika would have been flying over the Houses of Parliament. If he were not such a crazy anti-semite, it would have been Germany to develop the first A-bomb (there were about half way there at war's end, even without Jewish help).

Until the mid 1930's when the Nazis came to power, quantum physics was a German cottage industry. Our own Robert Oppenheimer got his PhD at Goettingen. Germany was the place for every aspiring young physicist to go until the Nazis come to power. Had they been more rational concerning their scientific intellectual assets, they would have retained the lead. As it was, they did alright technological despite the insanity and stupidity.

Ba'al Chatzaf

* Werner von Braun claimed that he Aimed for the Stars. But sometimes he hit London and Antwerp.

Edited by BaalChatzaf
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In her Letters Ayn Rand attacked Animal Farm. She had a low opinion of 1984 also. Her book Anthem was a refutation of the idea that there could be technological progress in a slave society. I find Orwell had many brilliant insights and should be read after you read Ayn Rand.

Nazi Germany was a slave society also. Somehow these slave keepers managed to organize their engineers and scientists to produce the forerunners of every non-nuclear weapons system our armed forces now use. Cruise Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, the Jet Plane. We even co-opted the Head Rocketeer Werner von Braun * whose designs helped put Americans on the Moon. For a society that cannot have technological progress the Nazis managed quite well. If Hitler were not such a putz, he would have had jet planes in 1940 and a Swastika would have been flying over the Houses of Parliament. If he were not such a crazy anti-semite, it would have been Germany to develop the first A-bomb (there were about half way there at war's end, even without Jewish help).

Until the mid 1930's when the Nazis came to power, quantum physics was a German cottage industry. Our own Robert Oppenheimer got his PhD at Goettingen. Germany was the place for every aspiring young physicist to go until the Nazis come to power. Had they been more rational concerning their scientific intellectual assets, they would have retained the lead. As it was, they did alright technological despite the insanity and stupidity.

Ba'al Chatzaf

* Werner von Braun claimed that he Aimed for the Stars. But sometimes he hit London and Antwerp.

Nazi Germany was a slave society, but a rather new one. The longer it had continued the worse it would have been for all that technology relative to, say, the United States. Japan fell short too, in spite of the tremendous steps it took to industrialize. So too, the USSR, which found it much too expensive to compete. Etc.

Granted, these things are enormously complex considering the status and nature of each society.

--Brant

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Anybody,

Regarding the "doublethink" examples in the book, does anyone remember them? I recall one: "Freedom is slavery" and...? And what was Winston forced to utter: 2 plus 2 =What was it?

Thanks.

Edited by Victor Pross
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Anybody,

Regarding the "doublethink" examples in the book, does anyone remember them? I recall one: "Freedom is slavery" and...? And what was Winston forced to utter: 2 plus 2 =What was it?

Thanks.

5

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  • 2 weeks later...

Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and war is peace.

These statements are all contradictions that become true when you change the frame of reference.

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Seconding Brant Gaede's observation that the Germans were coasting on their pre-Nazi scientific and technological eminence and that this doesn't mean they could have sustained it. Similarly, the USSR produced some great composers early on but not after the first generation. To say that things would have turned out differently if the Nazis hadn't been what they were and done what they did, is pretty much a tautology. People also say that if they they hadn't treated the Soviet populace so badly they could have fomented a popular uprising against Stalin and thereby won the war. The short answer to all this is: yeah, but they were and they did.

I've seen BaalChatzaf's claim (in #3) that the Nazis were "about half way" to the bomb by war's end, but this seems to be a minority position. I'm not a historian of this or any other era, but what I've read most often is that this was a retroactive justification for American entry into the war; they had a basic research project early on, but it was cancelled in 1941, and they didn't try after that.

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I was watching a documentary on the history of the US biological warfare program and it mentioned that one of the reasons there wasn't as many war crimes prosecutions in Japan as in Germany was that the US was trying to get as much information as possible from Japan's bioweapons and biowarfare research. It was a very bad bargain because although Japan had experimented on live humans they hadn't perfected the process of making the biological agents airborne.

Jim

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