George Orwell Relevant 75 Years After “Animal Farm” Was Published

By Mark Satta, Wayne State University

Seventy-five years ago, in August 1946, George Orwell’s Animal Farm was published in the United States. It was a huge success, with over a half-million copies sold in its first year. Animal Farm was followed three years later by an even bigger success: Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In the years since, Orwell’s writing has left an indelible mark on American thought and culture. Sales of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four jumped in 2013 after the whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked confidential National Security Agency documents. And Nineteen Eighty-Four rose to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list after Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration in 2017.

As a philosophy professor, I’m interested in the continuing relevance of Orwell’s ideas, including those on totalitarianism and socialism.

Early career

George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Blair. Born in 1903 in colonial India, Blair later moved to England, where he attended elite schools on scholarships. After finishing school, he joined the British civil service, working in Burma, now Myanmar. At age 24, Orwell returned to England to become a writer.

During the 1930s, Orwell had modest success as an essayist, journalist and novelist. He also served as a volunteer soldier with a left-wing militia group that fought on behalf of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War. During the conflict, Orwell experienced how propaganda could shape political narratives through observing inaccurate reporting of events he experienced firsthand.

Orwell later summarized the purpose of his writing from roughly the Spanish Civil War onward: “Every line of serious work I have written since 1936 has been, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism.”

Orwell did not specify in that passage what he meant by either totalitarianism or democratic socialism, but some of his other works clarify how he understood those terms.

What is totalitarianism?

For Orwell, totalitarianism was a political order focused on power and control. The totalitarian attitude is exemplified by the antagonist, O’Brien, in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The fictional O’Brien is a powerful government official who uses torture and manipulation to gain power over the thoughts and actions of the protagonist, Winston Smith. Significantly, O’Brien treats his desire for power as an end in itself. O’Brien represents power for power’s sake.

Much of Orwell’s keenest insights concern what totalitarianism is incompatible with. In his 1941 essay “The Lion and the Unicorn,” Orwell writes of “The totalitarian idea that there is no such thing as law, there is only power … .” In other words, laws can limit a ruler’s power. Totalitarianism seeks to obliterate the limits of law through the uninhibited exercise of power.

Similarly, in his 1942 essay “Looking Back on the Spanish War,” Orwell argues that totalitarianism must deny that there are neutral facts and objective truth. Orwell identifies liberty and truth as “safeguards” against totalitarianism. The exercise of liberty and the recognition of truth are actions incompatible with the total centralized control that totalitarianism requires.

Orwell understood that totalitarianism could be found on the political right and left. For Orwell, both Nazism and Communism were totalitarian.

Orwell’s work, in my view, challenges us to resist permitting leaders to engage in totalitarian behavior, regardless of political affiliation. It also reminds us that some of our best tools for resisting totalitarianism are to tell truths and to preserve liberty.

Orwell elaborates on what he means by socialism in The Lion and the Unicorn. According to him, socialism requires “approximate equality of incomes (it need be no more than approximate), political democracy, and abolition of all hereditary privileges, especially in education.”

In fleshing out what he means by “approximate equality of incomes,” Orwell later says in the same essay that income equality shouldn’t be greater than a ratio of about 10 to 1. In its modern-day interpretation, this suggests Orwell could find it ethical for a CEO to make 10 times more than their employees, but not to make 300 times more, as the average CEO in the United States does today.

But in describing socialism, Orwell discusses more than economic inequality. Orwell’s writings indicate that his preferred conception of socialism also requires “political democracy.” As scholar David Dwan has noted, Orwell distinguished “two concepts of democracy.” The first concept refers to political power resting with the common people. The second is about having classical liberal freedoms, like freedom of thought. Both notions of democracy seem relevant to what Orwell means by democratic socialism. For Orwell, democratic socialism is a political order that provides social and economic equality while also preserving robust personal freedom.

I believe Orwell’s description of democratic socialism and his recognition that there are various forms socialism can take remain important today given that American political dialogue about socialism often overlooks much of the nuance Orwell brings to the subject. For example, Americans often confuse socialism with communism. Orwell helps clarify the difference between these terms.

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Tuth Is Constant: More Georgia 2020 Corrupt Election Acts Revealed

770,000 Ballots Ordered Shortly Before the 2020 Election Are Missing – Where Did They Go?

We’ve reported on numerous corrupt and criminal acts involved in the 2020 Election in Georgia.  Today we found some more.

Kevin Moncla at UncoverDC.com has not given up on investigating the 2020 Election fraud in Georgia.  The FBI and DOJ won’t investigate the many crimes that occurred in that state so citizen journalists like Moncla are filling in where the [in] Justice Department won’t go.

Today Moncla reports that these million ballots ordered from Runbeck were ordered with “no stubs” as shown here:

 

These ballots were purposely missing tabs which are needed to keep track of the ballots.

Moncla then uncovers:

Mr. Sterling claimed that the ballots were ordered to serve as a backup plan in case the machines couldn’t be properly logic and accuracy tested before the election, as required by Georgia law. However, we reported that couldn’t have been the reason because the ballots were ordered after early voting had already begun. Our contention was basically that the machines were already being used at the time of the order; therefore, testing couldn’t have been the issue.

Ironically, we have found, and reported earlier this week, that the Fulton County voting machines were not logic and accuracy tested before the start of early voting. However, Fulton County proceeded to use the untested machines anyway. This revelation only further negates Mr. Sterling’s excuse that the issue of testing precipitated the “emergency” ballot order and bolsters our reporting.

Here is good old Gabe Sterling making another bogus claim:

 

The problem is this is questionable as well.  Moncla shares:

We know Fulton County ordered 1,058,210 “Emergency” ballots. Fulton County and Gabriel Sterling affirm the reason that the ballots were ordered, and both claim they were never needed. They are now planning to destroy those ballots, but for some reason only have 284,901 to destroy. Which begs the question:

Where are the missing 773,309 ballots?

Why did the centurion pierce Jesus in his side?

RAPHAEL; CRUCIFIXION

Lucien de Guise11/12/21

We should be grateful when a painting of the crucifixion appears in an art documentary. It’s a rare happening these days, especially when the theme of the BBC’s latest show is “Nature and Us: A History through Art.”

Much as I admire the scholarly presenter, Dr. James Fox, he makes one dubious statement about Raphael’s 1502 masterpiece in the National Gallery, London. He says, “… Christ, as he bleeds to death on the cross.” Jesus and the countless other victims of crucifixion do not die from loss of blood. The ancient Romans wouldn’t want to make death so easy.

In reality the intention of this form of capital punishment was to prolong the public spectacle. There are many theories on the precise cause of Christ’s death. For victims of crucifixion it is usually asphyxiation. In the case of Our Lord, it is possible that his heart was fatally weakened by the appalling abuse and dehydration that began even before he was nailed to the cross. The reason for the centurion Longinus piercing his side with a spear was to check whether Our Lord – and eventually his lord, too – had died. It was a classic Roman test. The presence of blood and water confirmed death.

With the emphasis that many artists have put on angels catching cupfuls of Christ’s blood, it’s understandable that a historian as eminent as Dr. Fox might come to the wrong conclusion. Raphael probably knew better as he was less generous with the red paint than many artists.

Virginia Election Integrity Efforts to Be Repeated for Midterms

By Terri Wu  November 9, 2021

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va.—A grassroots election integrity initiative has led to more than 3,000 new poll watchers—the majority of them conservatives—working during the Virginia gubernatorial election. The result was a much higher Republican poll watcher presence at the ballot box.

Traditionally, more election officers and poll watchers have been Democrats.

“For over a decade, [Democrats] have focused on the election system, the election office, and changing the way people vote,” Cleta Mitchell, a senior legal fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told The Epoch Times.

However, during this Virginia gubernatorial election, Republican poll watchers outnumbered Democratic ones, according to Jonathan Haines, vice president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy.

Poll watcher turnout tends to be low in most elections, except for in general elections for the presidency, according to Haines. But it was different in Virginia this time. In Loudoun County, Republican poll watchers were present almost every day at all four polling locations throughout the 45-day early voting period, according to Shelley Oberlander, chairperson of the Election Integrity Workgroup of the Loudoun County Republicans.

Citizens “really rose to the occasion,” according to Oberlander.

“I think once they start getting educated and really learning the process and what was involved and that they could make a difference in integrity, they did,” she told The Epoch Times.

10 Months in the Making

In February, a group of grassroots nonprofit organizations began an election integrity drive with the aim of using the Virginia gubernatorial election as a beta to “restore trust” in elections. They formed the Virginia Fair Elections Coalition, composed of more than 20 mostly conservative groups. Both the Conservative Partnership Institute and Virginia Institute for Public Policy are partner organizations.

According to Mitchell, the entire cycle—from forming a coalition to dispatching new watchers to polls—took almost a year.

The election integrity issue hasn’t been in the public spotlight as much as parents’ rights and education, but it’s a significant concern for many voters, according to coalition leaders. They’re confident that what has worked in Virginia can be replicated in other states.

Such actions are already underway. On Nov. 10, an 18-city tour will kick off in Georgia to start building a similar coalition there, according to Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, a nonprofit based in Georgia and a coalition partner. She said similar election integrity initiatives weren’t implemented in New Jersey, another state that had a gubernatorial election in November, as the coalition focused on Virginia as the pilot state.

In Virginia, the coalition organizations reached out to conservative voters and offered poll-watching certification training for recruits. Those trained would then contact their political parties—or election office if they were nonaffiliated—to become poll watchers for either the Democratic Party or Republican Party or serve as a nonaffiliated poll watcher.

Mitchell said the coalition trained additional members to be part of the “Citizens Task Force,” a grassroots-led group that attended local election board meetings, observed voting machine selections, and observed other election-related procedures to monitor and ensure compliance. These procedures are open to all members of the public and don’t require that observers have certification.

By April, the coalition was hosting a weekly teleconference for group leaders to discuss and exchange progress reports. This turned into a twice-weekly call in July and later became open to all volunteers when the early voting period began on Sept. 17. During this time, the calls became a helpful venue for poll watchers to talk through various real-life scenarios and further their training, according to Haines.

Haines said the coalition trained thousands of poll watchers in total and 300 during an August summit in Richmond, Virginia, alone. The course could also count toward part of the training to become an election officer, given that the subject matter overlaps. Election officers are paid positions that require certification from the local board of elections, while poll watchers are volunteers that are appointed and authorized by the local political parties or independent candidates.

Participation Drives Improvement

According to Oberlander, many Republican election officers in the county had also served as poll watchers during the early voting period. She said the collaboration between election officers and poll watchers went well in Loudoun County, despite initial tension arising from some officers who didn’t like to be observed.

She was thankful to Judy Brown, general registrar with the county’s election and voter registration office, for listening to the Republican Party’s suggestions based on lessons learned from the 2020 General Election and implementing some of them in the November elections. One such suggestion was to ensure that absentee ballots returned by in-person voters were destroyed, so that no one could reuse them. Another was to hire Republican election officers before tapping into the nonaffiliated list to ensure 50–50 representation from both parties.