Animal Farm Animal Farm discussion


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Was George Orwell against socialism itself or agains Stalin's rule?

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message 1: by Leo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leo What do you think was Orwell's opinion about the russian revolution, before Stalin? We all agree that his book, Animal Farm, describes the bureaucratization of the russian gobverment, led by Stalin himslef, giving the ones integrating the central comitee special rights over the rest of workers and turning into a cold blooded dictator. But that was not fault of the russian revolution or its leaders (Lennin, Trotsky, and others). It was a deviation of socialism itself. It doesn't surprises me that he could study and undestand the circumstances that would lead Russia and USA into a long cold war. Thats part of being an historical materialist. But, was he an historical materialist, as Marx was? Was he really against socialism itself or was he against Stalin's rule? Unfortunately, or not, George Orwell has always express himself as an impartial journalist, and I can't find any reference to what his political thoughts really were.


Holly I think it was more of a judgment on human nature itself, rather than a statement on political/economical issues in society.....and that is why he used the allegorical animals to symbolize the archetypes of human behavior. Had Orwell lived in France in the late 18th century he could have written a similar story about dynastic rule under a monarch......and he could have written a similar story about capitalistic democracy in the gilded age at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.


Nermin I don't agree that this book and 1984 target one particular ideology, namely communism. I think it describes totalitarian regimes in general. Or that's how I interpreted these books.


Philip Lee Orwell was a socialist, not a communist.

When the Spanish republic was attacked by Nationalist insurgents, backed by fascist Germany and Italy, he was one of the first to volunteer and go to her aid.

He chose to join the POUM (united workers' party) militia, and steered clear of the communist-backed International Brigade. Later, when the POUM (which had been part of the Socialist coalition running the county under the Republic) was outlawed by the Russian-backed and Communist-led government, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He went to ground and later (in abstentia) he was sentenced to death.

In other words, Eric Blair (George Orwell) knew perfectly well what it was to face the displeasure of the Commintern, Stalin's organ for world revolution.

"Animal Farm" is not a tract against socialism. It is his allegory of how a socialist revolution may be betrayed.

Also, I think, in the novel's use of the fairy-tale narrative, it also makes a point about the need for education. Unlike Britain, France and Germany of the time, Russia was totally unprepared for socialism in 1917. The common people of Tsarist Russia were mainly illiterate farm labourers, not the well-read militant factory workers of Western Europe that Marx had striven to influence. They were easily led into a revolution that they couldn't really understand, and as such became the pawns of the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky (Napoleon and Snowball).

Yes, Stalin's regime was totalitarian, first mirroring, then magnifying the depravities of Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. To that extent, "Animal Farm" is a general commentary on twentieth century revolutions. But I think we should continue to distinguish between the socialist ideals of communism, which Orwell sought to criticise and the racist/supremacist ideals of fascism, which Orwell (despite his Eton-Style upbringing) never espoused.


message 5: by Lia (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lia that is a tricky question. i believe that he was trying to say that power in the wrong hand can lead to a good cause gone wrong


Philip Cartwright Philip wrote: "Orwell was a socialist, not a communist.

When the Spanish republic was attacked by Nationalist insurgents, backed by fascist Germany and Italy, he was one of the first to volunteer and go to her a..."


This is spot-on. Orwell wasn't writing against socialism because he was a life-long socialist. It's a bit depressing that people who read his books don't know this.


Peter Philip wrote: "Orwell was a socialist, not a communist.

When the Spanish republic was attacked by Nationalist insurgents, backed by fascist Germany and Italy, he was one of the first to volunteer and go to her a..."

Lenin/Stalin regime came first - its started right after the 1917 revolution, the camps and repression, Hitler/Mussolini mirrored the Soviet system - Orwell witnessed it at first hand in Spain, the Soviets had the camps there too. 84' was his way of expressing his dissolutionment of the course of political socialism at the time.


Meera Srikant I find Animal Farm very apt for any situation where power comes into play. I don't follow political beliefs, but when I see how people behave when they get power and authority, I am reminded of this book. This is allegorical and I think, as Holly says, a commentary on human nature.


Peter Meera wrote: "I find Animal Farm very apt for any situation where power comes into play. I don't follow political beliefs, but when I see how people behave when they get power and authority, I am reminded of thi..."

True, to me Animal Farm was more of a direct response in my opinion to Eric Blair's experience in Spain - Power Corrupts, 1984 is a continuation of his views afterwards ie Franco/Stalin/Hitler use of power over its people.


Philip Lee Peter wrote: Lenin/Stalin regime came first - its started right after the 1917 revolution, the camps and repression, Hitler/Mussolini mirrored the Soviet system

The October revolution was enabled and paid for by the Kaiser, who wanted Russia out of the war; and the Bolsheviks delivered on that. What followed was a period of great confusion, rescued by the organisational skills of Trotsky with the Red Army, and Lenin dealing with the technocrats of power.

I believe those early days of the revolution were a liberation for most of the common people of Russia. They got out of the war and were able to collectivise or syndicalise many of the farms or other work places that had merely used their labour. Those were not the days when good honest workers were rounded up and herded into camps for ideological crimes. That happened later, when Lenin was dead, when Trotsky had fled, when Stalin had consolidated his power and was looking about him.

At that time, fascism usurped socialist ideas, sowing confusion in the minds of many people. As a result, the rise of nationalist totalitarian regimes in Italy, Germany and elsewhere created a kind of paranoia in Russia. Stalin turned on his own best people, purging them as a fascist agents. Russia, with its history of Tsars ruling by decree, was the worst possible place for the socialist experiment to be nurtured.

I think what's enduring about Orwell's work is how he was able to take the lessons he learned from studying Stalinism at first hand in Spain, and apply them to quintessentially British institutions, such as the family farm ("Animal Farm") and the BBC in the Ministry of Truth ("1984").

These two books paint vivid portraits of life under totalitarian communism in Eastern Europe, and by depicting a Britain which had succumbed to the same.


Scott Philip wrote: "Orwell was a socialist, not a communist.

When the Spanish republic was attacked by Nationalist insurgents, backed by fascist Germany and Italy, he was one of the first to volunteer and go to her a..."



Incisive and an excellent critique. I came to much the same conclusion after reading Homage to Catalonia


message 12: by Leo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leo Philip wrote: "Orwell was a socialist, not a communist.

When the Spanish republic was attacked by Nationalist insurgents, backed by fascist Germany and Italy, he was one of the first to volunteer and go to her a..."


Great comment. Could argue with you about some things you mention, but I'm most interested in one: the diference between socialism and comunism. Strictly speeking, the diference is mearly historical. Politicaly speaking, after Stalin started to rule, the opposition of the bolchevist party had to differentiate from his ways, so they started to call themselves "socialists". Obviously, they did this because they wanted people around the world to understand that Stalin had betrayed the real comunists values. At that point, branches of all type started to arise around the world about the interpretation of what communism was and the way to achive it. So, saying that Orwell was socialist and not a communist, well it can be a little redundant from a way of viewing things.

I didn't knew he was in the spanish civil war and that he joined the POUM, that's very interesting. Thank you very much for the comment.


Peter Philip wrote: "Peter wrote: Lenin/Stalin regime came first - its started right after the 1917 revolution, the camps and repression, Hitler/Mussolini mirrored the Soviet system

The October revolution was enabled..."


Sorry to rain on your utopian point of view on the November Revolution but Lenin had his great Felix Dzerzhinsky found the Cheka (forerunner of the OGPU/NKVD/KGB) to round up and eliminate those he deemed to be enemies of the Bolshevik party that meant anyone who disagreed with them. Stalin just let it run riot.


Chloe Thurlow Orwell was a free-thinker, a volunteer for the Republic against Fascist Franco in the Spanish Civil War, a lifetime socialist, grammarian, a lover of literature and a man with an intellect to acknowledge that communism under Stalin was going way off the essential ideals of Lenin and Trotsky. His understanding that communism was doomed to fail made him more deeply a caring socialist.


Parvathi Orwell might have had Stalin's rule in mind when he wrote the book. But then he might have taken it up to exemplify the fact that revolutions around the world are jeopardized by totalitarian governments that come to power soon after... be it the October revolution or the French revolution or even the recent Jasmine revolution in Egypt.


message 16: by Philip (last edited Jan 01, 2013 09:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Philip Lee Peter wrote: "sorry to rain on your utopian point of view"

There is great joy in the animals as they chuck out the humans and I think Orwell wants us to share in their feeling of liberation. They may not be ready for revolution, but the early days are Utopian.

A similar situation existed as the Kerensky government was overthrown by the better-organised, well-armed and German gold-funded communists. For a few months, even for years after, there was joy in Russia. Soldiers came home, many people truly believed they had found freedom. The houses of the rich were opened and divided up for the homeless, art and music flourished, women were welcomed to take a bigger role in politics than they had ever known. Sadly, of course, the Russian people were not ready; but if anything innocence exaggerated their Utopian joys.

Yes, as civil war broke out, some comrades were denounced as spies and stabbed in the back. After Lenin was shot, innocent people were blamed. But the scope and scale of those early intrigues was nothing to the purges, the decimations Stalin would unleash on his own kind a decade or so later.

It was the Moscow Show Trails of the 1930s that Orwell was referring to when the pigs betrayed their fellow animals. Orwell himself felt the ripples of Stalin's messianic power as the POUM were purged in Spain.

On Leo's point about the difference between socialism and communism. Of course, dictionaries will give us multiple definitions of both. Here's how I use the words:

The "dictatorship of the proletariat" ie the idea that you can sidestep democracy and impose a system is what sets communism apart from socialism. In that sense, socialism can be seen as a reformist movement within parliamentary democracy. Socialism is what gave many post-war Western European countries free-at-point-of-care health programmes, universal education, welfare benefits for families without breadwinners, and so forth. Even the United States has not failed to be influenced by socialist ideas. Most education institutions are state-funded, and recently the right to health care has been extended to cover all citizens.

When the Warsaw Pact countries collapsed like a pack of cards in 1989-90, many of their communist-built social infrastructures fell apart, too. I'm thinking of the orphanages, state farms and industrial monopolies producing alcohol, tobacco and sugar. But welfare, health and education in the democracies, hard-fought for by the struggles of working people, have not collapsed. Much of the hardship felt in the economic troubles since the banking crisis of 2008 have been because people refuse to give up these hard-won rights. Cuts and cut-backs yes, but even in Greece the system has not collapsed.

Animal rights, in contrast, is another matter. For them, the struggle is only just beginning.


message 17: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina Orwell was making a Trotskyist critique of Stalinism, why did the revolution in Russia degenerate, and his insights can be applied to regimes where authority and opppresion trump democracy and the rights of the oppressed. So "Some are more equal than others" becomes the perfect phrase to describe the hypoorisy of Stalinism, posing as Communism AND Social Democracy, the less-bad-but-what-can -you do alternative to revolution. And the meaning of doublethink, the 1984 term is demonstrated in the American press brilliantly -- when warmongers get peace prizes, for instance, or antiworker laws are called "Right-to-Work". See Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed and
Russia: From Workers' State to State Capitalism
Marxism & Socialism By Anthony Arnove, Peter Binns, et al. (Haymarket Books)for the history -- much more to say, but that will do, for now.


message 18: by Leo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leo Tina wrote: "So "Some are more equal than others" becomes the perfect phrase to describe the hypoorisy of Stalinism, posing as Communism AND Social Democracy, the less-bad-but-what-can -you do alternative to revolution. ..."

That's exactly what I meant by using the tearm bureaucratization of Stalins regime. Indeed, on Trotsky's book, "Revolution Betrayed", he remarks several times the fact that the central comitee of the russian government started to enjoy several beneficts over the rest of the proletariat. After this, the kulaks started to gain space among the russian central politics, and became the new oppressor class even after the continous warnings from the left oppositions, called by the same Stalin the "Trotskyists". Naturally, Stalin understood his mistake too late.

I think that Tina's comment about Orwell's critique from a trotskyst point of view is very accurate.


message 19: by Outis (last edited Jan 01, 2013 09:22PM) (new)

Outis I think it's a serious mistake to think Orwell was a Trot. He was close to (quasi-)Trotskyites at some point and he was obviously anti-Stalinist but he was also critical of Leninism as a whole.

Some Leninist myths have been floated in this thread.
While Lenin is rightly remembered as a leader who took the anti-war stance in 1917, the Russian Revolution predates his involvement.
Russian politics in late 1917 wasn't merely a showdown between factions of the Social-Democratic party (Lenin's and the one supporting Kerensky) and there was popular opposition to Lenin's government which wasn't led by other Social-Democrats.
As shown by the November election, the Socialist-Revolutionary party was the most popular at the time (even if it was under-represented in the national Soviets' Congress due to the electoral rules designed to marginalize the representatives of the countryside). An understanding of 1917 therefore requires some familiarity with that party's history and factionalism as well (at a minimum).

edit: oversimplification re-considered
I was tempted to comment on the Trotsky's stuff about kulaks but I think the other issues are complicated enough without going into that mess.


message 20: by Philip (last edited Jan 02, 2013 12:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Philip Lee Outis wrote: "I think it's a serious mistake to think Orwell was a Trot. He was close to (quasi-)Trotskyites at some point and he was obviously anti-Stalinist but he was also critical of Leninism as a whole.

Hear, hear!

I bow to all those with more detailed knowledge of the Russian revolution.

What we have here is a novel (two novels, if we include "1984" as a companion volume) that could be interpreted as anti-socialist, and which some on the right have tried to use in arguments against the left. I think we need to emphasise that Orwell was very much on the left and that his work needs to be read within its true context.


message 21: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim I think what he was trying to express was that when a nation strives for socialism, it can very easily be steered in the wrong direction. Especially when the ones following are uneducated and illiterate.


Osman Ülke To quote himself:
"My recent novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labor Party (of which I am a supporter), but as a show-up of the perversions... which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism.... The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else, and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere."
From The Collected Essays, Journalism, & Letters, George Orwell


message 23: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana "The Spanish war and other events in 1936-7 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it."

(Orwell, 'Why I Write')


message 24: by Outis (new)

Outis Since we're quoting his essays...
"Although in some places, for instance in the United States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents and develop into an organised movement with a petty fuerher of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is AGAINST Stalin just as the Communist is FOR him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is going in his own favour. In each case there is the same obsessive fixation on a single subject, the same inability to form a genuinely rational opinion based on probabilities. The fact that Trotskyists are everywhere a persecuted minority, and that the accusation usually made against them, i.e. of collaborating with the Fascists, is obviously false, creates an impression that Trotskyism is intellectually and morally superior to Communism; but it is doubtful whether there is much difference." (Notes on Nationalism, 1945)


message 25: by Huw (new) - rated it 4 stars

Huw Rhys One of the best discussions I've read in the two and more years I've been visiting this website.

Many thanks to all who have contributed.

For what it's worth, my own, fairly uneducated, opinion on "Animal Farm" is that it is simply a comment on human nature, based around the cliche that power corrupts.

But this excellent discussion adds another important onion skin or two to my education!


message 26: by Kara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kara Jorges Lia wrote: "that is a tricky question. i believe that he was trying to say that power in the wrong hand can lead to a good cause gone wrong"

ALL hands are the wrong hands. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That's why a balance of power is important.


Lauratug I think it was a parody of how the elites of a particular movement, can twist the basic principles that inspired the Russian Revolution in the first place, and make it just a game of power and terror. So, in my opinion Orwell criticises Stalinism, or totalitarian regimes in general.

Actually, at the beginning, Orwell pictures Old Major as the inspirational leader of the Revolution, which will guide the farm to a brighter future. I think this character might be based on Marx, or Lenin.
And then, the story takes its turn when the other pigs take the lead, and change to the core the basic rules that Old Major devised. This becomes obvious when the commandments written on the wall, are modified as the story goes, to fit better with the pig's intentions. I think that is Orwell's way of saying that no matter what the beliefs or principles were in the revolution, in a totalitarian regime, the only thing that matters is power, and how the elites exercise that power on to subordinates.


Kirstyn I believe that he had no issue with socialism in itself, considering how he wrote things getting better before Napoleon took over but I do believe he was more so against absolute rule in a dictatorship or oligarchy.


message 29: by cami (new) - rated it 5 stars

cami Lia wrote: "that is a tricky question. i believe that he was trying to say that power in the wrong hand can lead to a good cause gone wrong"

He wrote a preface for the Ukranian version in which he explains,
"..the man on the street has no real understanding of things like concentration camps, mass deportations, arrests without trial, press censorship, etc.

Everything he reads about a country like the USSR is automatically translated into English terms, and he quite innocently accepts the lies of totalitarian propaganda. Up to 1939, and even later, the majority of English people were incapable of assessing the true nature of the Nazi regime in Germany, and now, with the Soviet regime, they are still to a large extent under the same sort of illusion.

This has caused great harm to the Socialist movement in England, and had serious consequences for English foreign policy. Indeed, in my opinion, nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of Socialism as the belief that Russia is a Socialist country and that every act of its rulers must be excused, if not imitated.

And so for the past ten years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the Socialist movement.
"


message 30: by Anil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anil Srivastava "Four legs good, two legs bad."
This was followed by:
"Four legs good, two legs better."
It explains everything, including the Politburo's dachas on the Black Sea.

“Four legs good, two legs better! All Animals Are Equal. But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”
George Orwell


message 31: by Redd (new) - rated it 4 stars

Redd Kaiman I think all government wants to help people, but corruption goes astray.

Orwell was more against tyranny than for socialism.

Check out my webcomic: http://reddkaiman.blogspot.com/


message 32: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Peters Leo wrote: "What do you think was Orwell's opinion about the russian revolution, before Stalin? We all agree that his book, Animal Farm, describes the bureaucratization of the russian gobverment, led by Stalin..."

George Orwell was a militant socialist. He fought for a socialist militia in the Spanish Civil war, and most of his work was written for Socialist publications.


message 33: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John In one of his essays he discusses James Burnham's 'Managerial Revolution', which clearly influenced the politics of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

http://www.george-orwell.org/James_Bu...


message 34: by Ruby (new) - rated it 1 star

Ruby Emam OR perhaps he was just becoming a "revisionist" and so he had to criticize what he had believed in and fought for, to justify his own failure...


Philip Lee Brad wrote: "George Orwell was a militant socialist. "

The phrase "militant socialist" is inappropriate in Orwell's case. He was never any kind of militant, not even on his Eton Style days.


message 36: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Peters not even when he fought in the Spanish Civil War?


Philip Lee Brad wrote: "not even when he fought in the Spanish Civil War?"

No. His account of that conflict in "Homage To Catalonia" shows him to be anything but a militant. A heavy smoker, mind.


message 38: by Outis (new)

Outis Philip wrote: "His account of that conflict in "Homage To Catalonia" shows him to be anything but a militant."
Language barrier?
What do you think "militant" means?


message 39: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad Peters Ok troll


message 40: by Shane (last edited Jan 23, 2013 05:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shane I think that Orwell was looking at the ways ideas and ideals can be subverted and used against their original intentions, so in that sense I would say it was against leader's such as Stalin rather than any political ideology - which reminds me of how H.L. Mencken once said something along the lines of how the problem with Communism is Communists *and also about Christianity/Christians* ~ anywho, I haven't read this book for ages so that's just off the top of my noggin.


Philip Lee Outis wrote:
What do you think "militant" means?"


I think militant means ruthless, aggressive and careless of all consequence.

Taking the self-styled Militant Tendency (which infiltrated the British Labour Party in the 1970 and 80s) as an example: they sneaked into power in 1983, then bankrupted the city of Liverpool for their own ideological purposes.

Taking militant trade unionists as another example. When they bring workers out on strike they do so, again, for ideological rather than job-protecting or job-enhancing purposes. They intimidate moderate union members, hounding them out of office and even out of their jobs. They bus-in non-members for crucial votes and shout "class-traitor" when anyone opposes them. They do anything to usurp the workers' legitimate, hard-won freedoms in the name of a revolution that will never happen.

The militant, so-called "socialist" is little different from any other type of totalitarian. I have seen them in action many times and that's why I object to Orwell being called one. He had his faults, it's true. But he opposed the jack-boot, whoever was wearing it.


message 42: by Juanita (last edited Jan 24, 2013 02:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Juanita My view of Orwell was that he was a socialist in light of 1984 and Animal Farm and the apparent message conveyed within these novels. My change of perspective on the man Orwell, not necessarily the writer Orwell, was changed when I read THe Road to Wigan Pier where his disdain for the way of life of miners and their families indicated, much as did Dickens, that he wrote fiction from the vantage point of what Flaubert would call the bourgeoisie. The discrepancy between where he was positioned and his characters plight was largely idealistic not lived.

For those who are interested in reading this work I am including a pdf link here:

http://www.limpidsoft.com/A5/wiganpie...


message 43: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John I think he still sees the masses as selfish, gullible and partly to blame for their oppression in 1984 and Animal Farm.

And to be fair, 'The Road to Wigan Pier' was written early in his career. For much of his adult life he mixed with the poor and was poor himself.


Philip Lee Orwell used to love dressing up as a tramp and going on the road. Laurie Lee, poet and author of "Cider With Rosie", went on the road for real. Both fought for democracy in Spain. I agree with Juanita, sometimes Orwell does come across as a snob, especially in the Wigan Pier book. But then he did go to Eton. He came a long way in his life and he gave us a lot.


Peter Philip wrote: "Outis wrote:
What do you think "militant" means?"

I think militant means ruthless, aggressive and careless of all consequence.

Taking the self-styled Militant Tendency (which infiltrated the Brit..."

Militant in the context of "Homeage" is non political but military - the taking up arms in favour of some cause in his case the Republic.


Philip Lee Peter wrote: Militant in the context of "Homeage" is non political but military - the taking up arms in favour of some cause in his case the Republic.

Let's go back to Brad, who, in response to the original post of this thread, wrote: George Orwell was a militant socialist. He fought for a socialist militia in the Spanish Civil war, and most of his work was written for Socialist publications.

My response was to the collocation "militant socialist", which I say is incorrect. Together, those words suggests that Orwell was a dangerous revolutionary who would, for example, sacrifice truth for the sake of ideology, or fight to gain power. The man was a democrat, through and through.

I also object to the idea that Orwell was "non political but military." George Orwell was always political in whatever he did (though I have insufficient information on his choice of brothels to include them in any list*). One clear example, is his choosing to join the POUM militia in Spain, as opposed to an anarchist or a communist backed force. In that, he followed the British Independent Labour Party line.

Nor was he much of a military person, despite his stint in the military-style British Colonial Police of Burma. His essay "A Hanging" (collected in "Decline of English Murder", Penguin, 1965) gives an idea of his duties and humanist attitudes at the time.

*Some Spanish brothels were collectivised in the time of the Republic.


Feliks I should be reluctant to hear that he disliked all forms of socialism. The concept itself is very humane and even noble; despite flaws that have arisen when exercised. But many people forget that native american indians enjoyed a communal society for a very long time, with success.


Philip Lee Feliks wrote: "...socialism. The concept itself is very humane and even noble;...many people forget that native american indians enjoyed a communal society for a very long time"

Great perspective.

Socialism is the norm for most humans; we live in co-operation with each other, not constant competition. At the moment capitalism (or post-capitalism) is only the means. For the Amerindian natives living centuries ago, a form of socialism was the norm - while hunter gathering/subsistence farming was the means.


message 49: by Outis (new)

Outis Philip wrote: "One clear example, is his choosing to join the POUM militia in Spain, as opposed to an anarchist or a communist backed force. In that, he followed the British Independent Labour Party line."
Have you read Homage?
Or are you suggesting Blair/Orwell lied?
Here's what the book says about his initial attitude:
"I had only joined the P.O.U.M. militia rather than any other because I happened to arrive in Barcelona with I.L.P. papers), but I did not realize that there were serious differences between the political parties. ... my attitude always was, ‘Why can’t we drop all this political nonsense and get on with the war?’"
And about how his attitude had evolved after a while but before the events which turned around his political outlook:
"I was going to leave the P.O.U.M. As far as my purely personal preferences went I would have liked to join the Anarchists. ... If I wanted to go to Madrid I must join the International Column, which meant getting a recommendation from a member of the Communist Party. I sought out a Communist friend, attached to the Spanish Medical Aid, and explained my case to him. He seemed very anxious to recruit me and asked me, if possible, to persuade some of the other I.L.P. Englishmen to come with me. If I had been in better health I should probably have agreed there and then. ... But I had another week’s leave due to me and I was very anxious to get my health back before returning to the line. Also — the kind of detail that is always deciding one’s destiny — I had to wait while the boot-makers made me a new pair of marching boots. (The entire Spanish army had failed to produce a pair of boots big enough to fit me.) I told my Communist friend that I would make definite arrangements later."

FYI, you're operating with idiosyncratic or provincial definitions. Thank you for explaining yourself (partially anyway) but I think you should have done so right away. Your meaning is much clearer now.
Even allowing for this language barrier, I disagree with much of what you said over the last posts but I see no point in belaboring these issues. Enough information has been laid out for everyone to make their own mind up I think.


message 50: by Philip (last edited Jan 26, 2013 03:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Philip Lee Outis wrote: "FYI, you're operating with idiosyncratic or provincial definitions"

FYI

Try Googling militant. This what you get:

1) Militant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militant

Militant is usually used to describe a person engaged in aggressive verbal or physical combat (e.g. a terrorist or insurgent). Militant may also refer to: The Militant ...

2) Militant tendency - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militant_tenden... Militant tendency, originally the Revolutionary Socialist League, was a Trotskyist entryist group within the British Labour Party based around the Militant ...

3) Militant (word) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militant_(word)The English word militant is both an adjective and a noun, and is usually used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a ...
As adjective - As noun - Mass media usage - Span of militancy

4) Militant www.militant.org.uk/Official Militant Tendency website. Thirty two years of Militant, now The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, with links to the Socialist Party, details of campaigns ...


I think these first four results should be enough to show what the words "militant" and "socialist" mean when collocated. "Provincial", btw, is often used to indicate something outside the mainstream, which seems to be a slur. I don't accept the argument that there is any quibble over the meaning of the words we are discussing. "Militant" means the same in Minneapolis as it does in Manchester. As to "idiosyncratic", well, what can I say? The population of one country might be thought of as different because they prefer to drink tea while in others they drink coffee.

Thanks for typing out that long section from your copy of "Homage To Catalonia". It's a book I have read several times, and which I often refer to.

As can be seen from the text, Orwell joined the POUM because he was an ILP member, the very point I was making!

Later on, he was drawn to the anarchists of Catalonia because they were syndicalists, a type of socialist who believed that workers should control their own affairs. The English word "anarchist" has so many pejorative connotations, doesn't it? Like calling someone's language "provincial"!

Orwell was not the only member of the intelligentsia to toy with throwing in his lot with the communists. At the time, it was seen as the lesser of the evils. Many so-called "fellow travellers" signed up just so they could join the International Brigade - a much better organised force than most of the militias.


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