Author Topic: Why was Orwell SO prescient?  (Read 2876 times)

Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2018, 02:58:43 PM »
I am however still confused about your fixation on my Trotskyism. Saying national socialism is Nazism and not a branch of socialism is NOT a Trotskyist position. It's a well established fact. Ask any scholar of Nazi Germany or political history, no matter their personal politics, what national socialism was and they will all say it was the official ideology named and adopted by the Nazi party.

That's literally all I'm saying with regards to what national socialism is.

I think I've worked out the problem. When I point out the name of "English Socialism" has resonances with "national socialism" I'm simply saying that the name is similar. I'm not saying that therefore I think that Nazism and socialism are the same or one comes from the other. There are definitely historians who think that Nazism and socialism are closely related, by the way, but that's beside the point.

Here's a quote from Orwell that might help:

Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for socialism, as I understand it.

If this was the case, why would he name this evil organisation "English socialism"? There are three options: 1) he wants to suggest that noble causes can degenerate into totalitarianism 2) he wants to make a parallel to the nationalistic, hierarchical collectivism of fascism 3) a bit of both.

edit: Alternative Carpark beat me to it.


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Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2018, 03:01:03 PM »
Fuck sake, took us that long to come to an understanding. Haa.

A case in point for when internet debates aren't as good as face to face. Understanding can more easily be lost.


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Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2018, 09:46:03 PM »
I don't think Orwell's political views are a big mystery. He was sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalism and was opposed to totalitarianism, including Soviet communism. Not sure he would have limited himself to "anti-Stalinism."

The entire point of Animal Farm is to satirize the Bolshevik takeover. Of course, the other point is that Soviet communism was bad because it inevitably became indistinguishable from capitalism, and thus is it quite hilarious that it was pushed as propaganda by the CIA and is still very popular in the United States.

Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2018, 10:07:01 PM »
Room 101 is his biggest misfire I reckon. People's greatest fears are too broad and weird that you could have a room that could confront almost anyone with them. What if you're scared of heights? Plane crashes? Sharks? Agoraphobic?

What if your greatest fear was commitment? Would you have to act out a 30 year marriage in one room until you die?

Dr Rock

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Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2018, 10:11:30 PM »
I think whatever your greatest fear was, if in Room 101 there was a red hot poker they were going to stick up your arse, that would then be your new greatest fear.

Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2018, 12:14:15 PM »
re. 'anarcho-syndicalism'

I think Orwell wanted the Attlee Labour government to have more social ownership than it eventually did, which doesn't square with being against "big government", but then again, he was responding to the immediate needs of a skint economy rather than putting forward his view of the society he ultimately wanted.

Relatedly, with Orwell, you have to square the political views he formed in Spain, which were built around the sides in that war with the choices that existed in 1948, which had been changed by the war (in which the government became far more centralized).

It's also possible that by 1948 Orwell was such a pessimist that he didn't think true socialism was possible anymore.

Orwell was not Communist Party, at least not in the 1940s. He rejected the CP because it supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Christopher Hitchens' book on Orwell shows Orwell being attacked by Communists for selling out.


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Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2018, 02:23:11 PM »
I have a dim awareness of a book called 1985. I read some of it, ages ago (probably in 1985, oddly) - the part which was an essay/'interview' about 1984, and its writing, influence, etc.

It turns out to be by Anthony Burgess, and was written in 1978. Half of it is a distopian vision of the year 1985, written from the perspective of someone who hated 1978, and could only see things getting MORE 1978, which we know now didn't happen.

Rightly forgotten, it's ironic how a book written 30 years closer to the year in question could be less prescient than Orwell...

Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2018, 06:32:47 PM »
I can remember three things about 1985.

Pictures of diseased lungs on fag packets (right eventually), unions being powerful (wrong) lots of arabs buying stuff (right).

But generally speaking you are almost certainly right. It is over half my life ago that I read it.

It does sound awful:


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Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2018, 12:12:53 AM »
I believe Baudrillard said that television in modern society was more effective than Big Brother's telescreens because while the latter surveilled people's conversations, television stopped them from talking in the first place.

Re: Why was Orwell SO prescient?
« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2018, 02:41:47 AM »
The novella part of Burgess' 1985 is weak, and typical of AB when he's not really trying- pages full of manic, weird detail but absolutely nothing that's emotionally engaging or even memorable, -but the other half, the essay on 1984 is really good: I like the way he highlights the bits of Orwell's book that are as much satire of England in 1948 as anything else; he explains well  how food rationing, forced jollity and propaganda were facts of life over here too, regardless of what was happening in the USSR.
His treatment of the relationship between Orwell, Christianity and utopian/dystopian politics in general, though it veers seriously off-topic, is essential for anyone really into Burgess, and expresses more directly the eccentric take on Pelagianistic Christianity lurking behind his better books like Clockwork Orange  and Earthly Powers.