by Rainer Shea
Whenever I criticize George Orwell for the persistent anti-communism of his writings, someone defends him by claiming that his aim with 1984 and Animal Farm was not to attack socialism but to attack “totalitarianism.” Putting aside the fact that Orwell’s aim with these works was explicitly to caricature the USSR, and that most of these defenders of his are likely to agree with the false view of the USSR as “totalitarian,” could his defenders have a point? Could these works, in spite of their biased messages about history, ultimately be rightful warnings about the potential for revolutions to turn into tyrannies?
After all, it’s true that many revolutions have resulted in despotic new governments, such as the ones that came after the French Revolution or the Algerian independence movement. But in these and other cases, the defining characteristic in the oppressiveness of the new systems has been bourgeois subjugation of the lower classes, and the trait they have in common is that socialists haven’t been able to shape them. In the cases of the revolutions in Russia, China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and Venezuela, wherein socialists have been the defining presence, democracy was implemented after the triumph of socialism, and it persists within the Marxist-Leninist countries that are still in existence.Read More »