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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Can anyone explain to me how George Orwell can be a socialist and write a book like 1984?

Everyone I know always tells me that I should read 1984. They know that i am interested with politics/philosophy and a government that supports our rights as humans (explained in declaration of independence).

With that being said, i cant get myself to read 1984 at the moment, i will at some point in my life, but i know it is going to be painful to know that he was a socialist. How could he write a book on government corruption and support socialism?

If i am wrong to say he was a socialist, let me know, all my information i have tells me he is.

I know that his book can be said to be written about facism. But dictatorships arise from communism/socialism. It is a fact. See Stalin.

Anyone else feel the way i do?

20 Answers

  • LK
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Had to study the man on this question. First, the second paragraph in the Wiki entry said Orwell was "famous for two novels critical of totalitarianism in general (Animal Farm) and Stalinism in particular (Nineteen Eighty-Four), which he wrote and published towards the end of his life."

    Lots of little bits written... he was in the Imperial Police Force (at his father's bidding) for a while in Burma, but on leave he quit, hating imperialism, and wanting to become a writer.

    Research... some by "tramping," (going a bit 'underground' as poverty stricken-- unless he actually was poverty stricken, which did happen-- )

    In 1936 he fought on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War against Franco, got wounded there...

    Another Wiki quote: "To Orwell, liberty and democracy went together"...."he termed his beliefs 'Democratic Socialism,' socialism with free debate and free elections."

    In WW2, was in the Home Guard...

    In 1948, he gave a friend who worked for "a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, a list of 37 writers and artists he considered unsuitable IRD authors because of their communist leanings."

    "Motive unclear" for that action, except that his friend was "also in cause for anti-Stalinism."

    There you have it. It's difficult to pigeon-hole people, isn't it?

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    • William2 years agoReport

      I read 1984 and Animal Farm . Both books appear to be mocking Socialism. So I'm in agreement with the above question? Orwell to me is clearly bashing socialism .

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  • sigmon
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    George Orwell Socialist

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  • 6 years ago

    Well, actually, this comes from the common American perception that some degree of economic freedom, rights and liberty are required to have a functioning democracy; however, if you go to Western Europe, which has a more collectivist culture and was where Orwell lived, it's a pretty common view to believe this is not necessarily the case. You see, America is the most conservative first-world country on the planet (For example, we are more or less alone in the fact that we don't offer universal health care) and one way we show it is by assuming that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand. However, if you look throughout history, you would actually find most countries which are capitalist were some sort of dictatorship or authoritarian system. For example, China (Which claims to be communist but isn't, just like the USSR), Nazi Germany, Pinochet's Chile, so on and so forth. Now, let's remember, there have really only been two different attempts at setting up a communism in a major country. These were China and the Soviet Union. They both failed, becoming corrupt dictatorships in which the people were oppressed and the money was siphoned off to the ruling classes. However, Orwell held the view that these societies failed not because of some fundamental problem in socialism, but instead because of the anarchism which communism embraced, which made the protection of a democratic system through the use of a police system impossible. In addition, he reasoned that because more countries throughout human history have been non-democratic than democratic, the USSR and China had probability standing against them.

    Now, we must also draw a distinction which is not commonly made here in the States; namely, the difference between Socialism and Communism. Communism, to quote Karl Marx, founder of the philosophy, is "A stateless, classless, currency free society in which private property is abolished and resources are allocated based on need, not ability." On the other hand, Socialism is a system where "The means of production are typically owned by non-private entities and the economy is cooperatively managed." Communism is a more radical version of socialism, in which all people are equal, both politically and economically. On the other hand, Orwellian socialism accepts some sort of inequality as unavoidable while simultaneously wishing to minimize this. Some examples of acceptable inequality include stuff like a president outranking a normal person and paying people a bit more for jobs that are more dangerous or laborious.

    Finally, the point must be made that socialism does not necessarily mean ignoring the individual rights of humans, and it can in fact be argued that the opposite is true. You see, democratic socialism and democratic capitalism both say that they care for human rights, and they do, but they disagree on what those human rights are. Socialists argue that freedom from the upper classes' affluence and financial influence is a right, whereas capitalists argue that freedom to earn a higher place through ingenuity and hard work trumps this right. Which side is right is up to you.

    Source(s): A few years of studying worldwide politics and political economics P.S. No, I'm not one of those communist trolls that occasionally show up on here. I hold political views ranging from the center to the center-left, and I realize that the USSR was a terrible country which didn't live up to any of its ideals. I hope that this helps you to understand that the situation with Communism and Socialism is more nuanced than you'd expect.
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    • Miles5 years agoReport

      "the anarchism communism embraced" is a total oxymoron.communism is complete government control....anarchy is zero regulation, no government. one giant entity that controls, can never hold "democracy".it always becomes corrupt. Capitalism divides control up to prevent a SINGLE CONTROLLING ENTITY.

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  • 5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Can anyone explain to me how George Orwell can be a socialist and write a book like 1984?

    Everyone I know always tells me that I should read 1984. They know that i am interested with politics/philosophy and a government that supports our rights as humans (explained in declaration of independence).

    With that being said, i cant get myself to read 1984 at the moment, i will at some...

    Source(s): explain george orwell socialist write book 1984:
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  • Speak
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Nope, don't see it the way you do. He may have been a socialist, but 1984 is a cautionary tale. Some themes are: Nationalism (both negative and positive, and also transfered), and Sexual Repression. The book has actually been banned because some people though that it PROMOTED communism. It's showing, however good your original thoughts may be, you have to keep an eye out to make sure people don't take advantage of that or become corrupt. Hold your leaders responsible; they are supposed to be taking care of you, not vice versa. He has written many books, some views completely different from each other. Socialism and corruption do not go hand in hand. Corrupt leaders and corruption go hand in hand. A way of government doesn't lead to corruption, it's the people who sometimes run it that will turn it away from what it was originally supposed to be.

    Stalin is another fact that some leaders can be corrupt and pervert the system the originally wanted to implement.

    *An Anarchist who loved George Orwell's 1984*

    • Johnathan4 years agoReport

      I contest your claim that the leaders are supposed to take care of us.

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  • 4 years ago

    Because, simply, the real enemy is authoritarianism, which socialists like to pretend doesn t happen in their new flavor of socialism, and capitalism is prone to when business interests overtake public interests.

    Both like to pretend they don t have this problem, or that they only have this problem just sparingly enough that the other things they do take priority.

    That s why Orwell can have a cautionary tale of a society deep in authoritarianism and people can argue whether it got there from capitalism or socialism and miss the entire point.

    Think of politics like a diamond, with authoritarianism at the top and anarchy at the bottom, and the exact specific implementation of your government being some flavor across the horizontal axis, with extremes at the left and right. The corners are at the top, left, right, and bottom.

    Why isn t it a Euclidean graph (a square)? Because when you re at the top or bottom, the specific implementation no longer matters.

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  • C_Bar
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There have been many dictators -- some have arisen in a communist context -- Stalin, Lenin -- some in a fascist context Hitler, Mussolini -- others, most commonly, out of the military -- take your pick of third world dictators: Idi Amin, Pinochet, etc etc.

    SO it is possible for an intelligent person to have a different opinin about whether socialism necessarily leads to dictatorship, and a different opinion as to whether dictators arise only from socialism.

    There is a big potential difference between socialism and communism. Much of Orwell's knowledge of political realities came out of his experience in the Spanish Civil War, in which he fought against the fascists on the side of the socialists / anarchists, but also had to fight against the communists, who were anti-fascists but not if it meant allowing socialists to control things.

    It is interesting that Orwell is perhaps the one writer politcal writers on both the left and the right claim as their own, largely because he was anti-communist. You should read him -- it is possible that even if you disagree with some of his thought, you'll agree with others, and also possible you'll learn something. And, if it is anti-dictatorship works you are looking for, 1984 and Animal Farm are perhaps the best examples.

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  • 5 years ago

    Socialism is a very broad term. He was a socialist in the way 'he understood it' not the way the Socialist Party operated. However since Labour was the party closest to his ideology, he campaigned with them. You will notice that Socialists tend to treat Orwell as 'confused' but he was clearly a libertarian who rejected state inference in people's lives which is the opposite of socialism in the sense of a Party.

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  • aida
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    If you haven't already read Orwell's Animal Farm, try slipping into his work that way. The philosophy described for the animals by Major shortly before his death is socialism in its ideal form. Many members of the British Labour Party refer to themselves and their colleagues as "socialists," and there's an orgaization in the UK called the Christian Socialist Movement. You might be surprsed to see who belongs to it! In any case, their objective is definitely NOT to establish a totalitarian dictatorship. Such dictatorships have developed at both ends of the political spectrum, and the account in Animal Farm of the rise of Napoleon (if you haven't read it, Napoleon is a pig, not General Bonaparte) gives a pretty clear picture of how they come into being.

    So read 1984. I can't say "Enjoy it," because it's not meant to be enjoyed. But you'll probably be glad you read it.

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  • 4 years ago

    Despite having favor for socialist ideas through much of his life, he changed over time. He spoke openly in support of socialism and his writing reflected his ideas often enough, but his opinions were not that at the time of his death. Upon writing 1984, he began to understand corruption and government control in a different light. He began to criticize the ideas of a socialist form of government much more often. He started to think that a socialist government can not be maintained and trusted over a long period of time. His motivation for writing 1984 was, in many ways, to show people the inevitability of what is to come when we agree to forfeit freedoms. It isn t widely known, but the fact is that at the end of his life, he realized that he was quite wrong about many of his political views.

    He is much like John Lennon in that sense. Most people don t know that John Lennon, who wrote the song "Imagine" and is often cited for his socialist ideas, in fact died a hardcore conservative who began to despise the Liberal and Progressive parties. He expressed that he was very wrong his whole life and people shouldn t reference his early ideas. The fact is people are usually ignorant to these facts, but they are so important and true. The ideas regarding socialism are usually stretched and far from reality. Today most of the European countries that Americans idolize as "Socialist havens," are ushering their way toward capitalistic and free market ideas. The truth is out there, don t blindly accept the narrative written by popular media. There is a reason that, as time progressed, Lennon and Orwell s ideas completely changed, as are the ideas of European countries today.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Its a book I think they should make the kids read in school, read it you will see, its not quiet about corruption as someone else told you.

    Does it really matter what a writer believes in his personal life? As long as what is being written on the page is well researched and well written... what I mean is, you might for example read a book about a homicidal maniac, doesn't mean the writer himself or herself endorses murder!

    I am a writer myself, and I often write about things which go against my personal beliefs, morals and principles, but, to be good at your craft you have to be objective sometimes, and for the sake of lets say some story lines to work, you have to go above and beyond you own personal ethics now and again to portray what you want to get your message across in your characters. Just because you believe one thing doesn't mean you can't research and write a book about the opposite!!

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