The Importance Of Totalitarianism In George Orwells Animal Farm

Thursday, February 3, 2022 4:29:06 AM

The Importance Of Totalitarianism In George Orwells Animal Farm



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Animal Farm Political Terminology

He does so 'because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink-pencil'. Presumably, the 'ink-pencil' is the ball-point pen that was coming into use at the time that was being written. This means that Orwell describes something as being written' with a real nib but being 'scratched' with a ball-point. This is, however, precisely the reverse of the truth. If you are old enough to remember steel pens, you will remember that they scratched fearsomely, and you know ball-points don't. This is not science fiction, but a distorted nostalgia for a past that never was.

I am surprised that Orwell stopped with the steel pen and that he didn't have Winston writing with a neat goose quill. Nor was Orwell particularly prescient in the strictly social aspects of the future he was presenting, with the result that the Orwellian world of is incredibly old-fashioned when compared with the real world of the s. Orwell imagines no new vices, for instance. His characters are all gin hounds and tobacco addicts, and part of the horror of his picture of is his eloquent description of the low quality of the gin and tobacco. He foresees no new drugs, no marijuana, no synthetic hallucinogens.

No one expects an s. In his despair or anger , Orwell forgets the virtues human beings have. All his characters are, in one way or another, weak or sadistic, or sleazy, or stupid, or repellent. This may be how most people are, or how Orwell wants to indicate they will all be under tyranny, but it seems to me that under even the worst tyrannies, so far, there have been brave men and women who have withstood the tyrants to the death and whose personal histories are luminous flames in the surrounding darkness. If only because there is no hint of this in , it does not resemble the real world of the s.

Nor did he foresee any difference in the role of women or any weakening of the feminine stereotype of There are only two female characters of importance. One is a strong, brainless 'prole' woman who is an endless washerwoman, endlessly singing a popular song with words of the type familiar in the s and s at which Orwell shudders fastidiously as 'trashy', in blissful non-anticipation of hard rock. The other is the heroine, Julia, who is sexually promiscuous but is at least driven to courage by her interest in sex and is otherwise brainless.

When the hero, Winston, reads to her the book within a book that explains the nature of the Orwellian world, she responds by falling asleep - but then since the treatise Winston reads is stupefyingly soporific, this may be an indication of Julia's good sense rather than the reverse. In short, if must be considered science fiction, then it is very bad science fiction. We have to remember, though, that the world of the late s, during which Orwell was writing his book, was one in which there had been, and still were, big governments with true tyrants - individuals whose every wish, however unjust, cruel or vicious, was law.

What's more, it seemed as though such tyrants were irremovable except by the chance of outside force. Benito Mussolini of Italy, after twenty-one years of absolute rule, was overthrown, but that was only because his country was suffering defeat in war. Adolf Hitler of Germany, a far stronger and more brutal tyrant, ruled with a steel hand for twelve years, yet even defeat did not, in itself, bring about his overthrow. Though the area over which he ruled shrank and shrank and shrank, and even though overwhelming armies of his adversaries closed in from the east and west, he remained absolute tyrant over whatever area he controlled - even when it was only over the bunker in which he committed suicide.

Until he removed himself, no one dared remove him. There were plots against him, to be sure, but they never worked, sometimes through quirks of fate that seemed explainable only by supposing that someone down there liked him. Orwell, however, had no time for either Mussolini or Hitler. His enemy was Stalin, and at the time that was published, Stalin had ruled the Soviet Union in a ribbreaking bear hug for twenty-five years, had survived a terrible war in which his nation suffered enormous losses and yet was now stronger than ever.

To Orwell, it must have seemed that neither time nor fortune could budge Stalin, but that he would live on forever with ever increasing strength. Of course, that was not the way it really was. Orwell didn't live long enough to see it but Stalin died only three years after was published, and it was not long after that that his regime was denounced as a tyranny by - guess who - the Soviet leadership. The Soviet Union is still the Soviet Union, but it is not Stalinist, and the enemies of the state are no longer liquidated Orwell uses 'vaporised' instead, such small changes being all he can manage with quite such abandon.

Again, Mao Tse-tung died in China, and while he himself has not been openly denounced, his close associates, as 'the Gang of Four', were promptly demoted from Divinity, and while China is still China, it is not Maoist any longer. Franco of Spain died in his bed and while, to his very last breath, he remained the unquestioned leader he had been for nearly forty years, immediately after that last breath, Fascism abruptly dwindled in Spain, as it had in Portugal after Salazar's death. In short, Big Brothers do die, or at least they have so far, and when they die, the government changes, always for the milder.

This is not to say that new tyrants may not make themselves felt, but they will die, too. At least in the real s we have every confidence they will and the undying Big Brother is not yet a real threat. If anything, in fact, governments of the s seem dangerously weak. The advance of technology has put powerful weapons - explosives, machine guns, fast cars into the hands of urban terrorists who can and do kidnap, hijack, gun down, and take hostages with impunity while governments stand by more or less helplessly. In addition to the immortality of Big Brother, Orwell presents two other ways of maintaining an eternal tyranny.

First -,present someone or something to hate. In the Orwellian world it was Emmanuel Goldstein for whom hate was built up and orchestrated in a robotized mass function. This is nothing new, of course. Every nation in the world has used various neighbours for the purpose of hate. This sort of thing is so easily handled and comes as such second nature to humanity that one wonders why there have to be the organised hate drives in the Orwellian world.

It needs scarcely any clever psychological mass movements to make Arabs hate Israelis and Greeks hate Turks and Catholic Irish hate Protestant Irish - and vice versa in each case. To be sure, the Nazis organised mass meetings of delirium that every participant seemed to enjoy, but it had no permanent effect. Once the war moved on to German soil, the Germans surrendered as meekly as though they had never Sieg-Heiled in their lives. Second - rewrite history. Almost every one of the few individuals we meet in has, as his job, the rapid rewriting of the past, the readjustment of statistics, the overhauling of newspapers - as though anyone is going to take the trouble to pay attention to the past anyway. This Orwellian preoccupation with the minutiae of 'historical proof' is typical of the political sectarian who is always quoting what has been said and done in the past to prove a point to someone on the other side who is always quoting something to the opposite effect that has been said and done.

As any politician knows, no evidence of any kind is ever required. It is only necessary to make a statement - any statement - forcefully enough to have an audience believe it. No one will check the lie against the facts, and, if they do, they will disbelieve the facts. Since they were told that was so, they believed it as seriously as you and I believe that they attacked the Poles.

To be sure, the Soviets put out new editions of their Encyclopaedia in which politicians rating a long biography in earlier editions are suddenly omitted entirely, and this is no doubt the germ of the Orwellian notion, but the chances of carrying it as far as is described in seem to me to be nil - not because it is beyond human wickedness, but because it is totally unnecessary. Orwell makes much of 'Newspeak' as an organ of repression - the conversion of the English language into so limited and abbreviated an instrument that the very vocabulary of dissent vanishes. Partly he got the notion from the undoubted habit of abbreviation. He gives examples of 'Communist International' becoming 'Comintern' and 'Geheime Staatspolizei' becoming 'Gestapo', but that is not a modern totalitarian invention.

There is no sign that such compressions of the language have ever weakened it as a mode of expression. As a matter of fact, political obfuscation has tended to use many words rather than few, long words rather than short, to extend rather than to reduce. Every leader of inadequate education or limited intelligence hides behind exuberant inebriation of loquacity. Thus, when Winston Churchill suggested the development of 'Basic English' as an international language something which undoubtedly also contributed to 'Newspeak' , the suggestion was stillborn.

We are therefore in no way approaching Newspeak in its condensed form, though we have always had Newspeak in its extended form and always will have. We also have a group of young people among us who say things like 'Right on, man, you know. It's like he's got it all together, you know, man. I mean, like you know -' and so on for five minutes when the word that the young people are groping for is 'Huh? It is something which in Oldspeak is called 'inarticulacy' and it is not what Orwell had in mind.

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But none of the material he found seemed conclusive, so in he began using the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act FOIA in hopes of obtaining some restricted documents that might finally resolve the matter. Furthermore, such documents when finally released are sometimes rendered almost unintelligible by the whited-out redactions of words, sentences, paragraphs, or multiple pages.

The alleged legal justification for holding back or heavily mutilating such documents is that their release would endanger our current national security, but we must ask ourselves how plausible this really seems. The events of interest to Baker took place during a war that ended almost seventy years ago, fought against a global Communist coalition that no longer exists, and it hardly seems likely that any of the operational plans or technologies from that era would have much relevance today, while surely even the grandchildren of the individuals mentioned are now quite elderly if they are even still alive.

After the fall of the USSR, the old Soviet archives were generally thrown open to the world, allowing Western historians to discover many important facts and resolve various longstanding controversies such as the Katyn Forest Massacre, but over the last couple of decades they have mostly been closed back up again. And the same must surely be true with regard to almost all our own secret documents from the early s.

At one point in his quest, Baker described sitting in a reading room of the National Archives building knowing that just on the other side of a thin wall were the 21 unavailable documents that would conclusively resolve his long investigation one way or the other. Instead, he was forced to make do with what he had been able to obtain, massive redactions and all. By Baker had spent more than a decade on his project, punctuated by writing several unrelated but successful books and novels, and having reached his mid-sixties, he felt sure that the patient government bureaucrats would successfully outlast him. He had accumulated thousands of pages of notes and many boxes of reports and other materials, as well as a great deal of important personal knowledge that would not survive him, so he finally decided to write a book telling others what he had learned and allowing them to use the information for themselves.

Lacking access to the documents he had spent so many years fruitlessly seeking, he abandoned any effort to produce a polished chronological narrative. Although his style was unassuming and informal, the main text itself, running less than , words, was backed by more than fifty pages of detailed source notes. The credibility of his material is indicated by the glowing cover-blurbs from noted writers who had covered related subjects. Overall, I found him a very judicious analyst, and believe he made a strong even overwhelming case that America did indeed engage in biological warfare during the early stages of the Korean conflict, much as our Communist adversaries had charged at the time.

The separate elements of this historical puzzle fit together to produce a reasonably persuasive whole. First, over the decades it has been thoroughly documented that America did have a very substantial biowarfare program based at Ft. In late American forces suffered a series of disastrous defeats in Korea at the hands of Chinese troops, and the report from a Pentagon committee in early December emphasized the importance of accelerating the development of bioweapons such as Q Fever, plague, and anthrax together with the necessary delivery mechanisms for covert use, while especially praising the CIA for its effectiveness in that regard.

This secret report was eventually declassified by a FOIA request in Around the same time that report was being written, a British sergeant retreating through a deserted North Korean village before advancing Chinese troops observed American military personnel, masked and gloved, carefully removing large quantities of feathers from special containers and flinging them into the empty houses before he was warned away by American MPs. Months later, the North Korean foreign minister issued a formal complaint to the United Nations that America had used illegal biological warfare, attacking his own troops and those of China with smallpox. These mysterious outbreaks had occurred a few months earlier, but only in areas recently occupied by retreating American forces.

The accusations briefly appeared in the Western media, but were ridiculed and hotly denied by American government spokesmen. Strict censorship prevented these stories from reaching the American media until many months later, at which point our government claimed that the illnesses had been spread by Chinese troops. But the disease seemed entirely absent from the hundreds of miles of Korean territory the enemy forces had traversed, and only appeared in a narrow belt along the front lines, with our stricken servicemen believing that they seemed to be spread by infected field mice or voles.

Voles had long been regarded by American researchers as an excellent vector for their bioweapons, and when interviewed years later for a history of the Korean War, one of the leaders of our local CIA efforts explained that his covert operations had created a defensive belt along the front lines. The diarist format used by Baker scatters these closely-connected facts across nearly pages. Although this round of events in and the accompanying Communist accusations received some world media coverage, a far greater volume of controversy came the following year, when Communist media organs issued widespread charges that America had begun a much larger round of biowarfare, claiming that American planes were dropping all sorts of diseased insects and voles in Korea and even parts of nearby China, once again trying to unleash an epidemic.

Sensing the opportunity for a major propaganda coup, the Chinese organized an independent international fact-finding commission to investigate their accusations and interview local witnesses, managing to enlist as its head Dr. An especially important element were the public confessions of numerous captured American pilots who admitted that they had taken part in such illegal germ warfare attacks. However, these new accusations were once again blasted as a hoax by the much more powerful Western media, and after repatriation, the captured Americans claimed their statements had been coerced.

Many later historians have come to the same conclusion, especially after when previously secret documents of the Soviet KGB archives revealed that they had created fake areas of disease exposure for propaganda purposes. Baker, however, suggests a more nuanced reconstruction. The notion that American planes were dropping insects and rodents from the sky seems quite an extraordinary claim, less likely to be the sort of plausible-sounding story fabricated for a war propaganda plan, especially given the very large number of seemingly-credible eyewitnesses later interviewed by Needham and other investigators, and the author wonders whether thousands of individuals could have been enlisted into such a long-standing hoax.

Moreover, in the CIA finally declassified and made available on its website a large cache of secret American documents, and these included numerous communication intercepts of Chinese and North Korean commanders reporting these events and urgently requesting vaccines or DDT to protect their troops from the expected disease outbreaks. So although the evidence for such actual epidemics seems minimal and possibly fabricated, the Communist forces certainly believed that they were under biological attack, suggesting that something very odd was happening. Absent a public and self-defeating American announcement, it is difficult to imagine that any such dust would have even been noticed let alone regarded as dangerous, but dropping large numbers of mysterious insects and rodents might have immediately persuaded the enemy they were suffering another round of American biological attacks, with the American pilots involved assuming the same thing, and Baker believes this best fits the limited available evidence.

To a considerable extent, this resembles another bizarre but solidly documented action called Operation Red Frog, in which the CIA caught a hundred Korean frogs, painted them red, then had them dropped from planes to unnerve the opposing military forces. Moreover, top Pentagon officials believed that full-scale war against the Soviets and the Chinese might break out at any moment, and this operation allowed them to test their biological delivery systems, which would have become a crucial element of their military strategy in such a conflict.

So Baker believes that a small-scale covert biological warfare operation beginning in late afterward became confused and conflated with a large-scale psychological warfare operation in , leading many later historians to discount the reality of the former. He became personally friendly with the authors, whom he interviewed early in his project, and was later given twenty boxes of their accumulated research materials. Richard Falk of Princeton, an eminent scholar of international law, as well as mainstream historian Stephen Ambrose, who had built his career upon Eisenhower hagiography.

But the text is written in a very dry and dull manner, so I found the Baker book, despite its lack of a chronological sequence, much more useful, although it was obviously built upon the research foundation provided by that earlier work. One crucial point they properly emphasize is the terrible scale of the American defeat at the hands of the intervening Chinese ground forces during late They quote from Disaster in Korea , the definitive military account of that conflict by Lt. Roy E. Under such circumstances, is it really plausible that our forces would have balked at the use of biological warfare, especially in a very limited capacity and deployed in a plausibly-deniable manner?

Preparation for the full use of offensive biowarfare against large enemy population centers obviously requires extensive field testing, and these efforts sometimes provoked great controversy when they eventually came to light. During September , a mysterious fog with a strange odor enveloped the city of San Francisco for several days, and only decades later was this discovered to have been caused by a major biowarfare field test, as an offshore minesweeper blew a huge cloud of bacterial spores intended as a stand-in for anthrax towards the city. Although the spores were purportedly harmless, they actually produced a number of serious infections among the local residents, including at least one death.

There also seems reasonable evidence that far more permanent mistakes sometimes occurred. Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks, can produce itches, rashes, and sometimes more serious ailments and annually infects some , Americans and countless pets, plaguing the inhabitants of New England and much of the coastal North East. It was first diagnosed in , a suspiciously recent date for the sudden appearance of an entirely natural disease, and based upon Lab , a heavily-researched book by Michael Carroll, Baker argues it was probably an inadvertent consequence of our biowarfare experiments.

Apparently, nearby Plum Island had long been the center of CIA- and Army-funded research into tick-borne livestock diseases, and these could have accidentally infected local deer or birds, which then crossed the bay to Lyme, Connecticut, producing the endemic infestation. By early , Ft. After the close of hostilities, leading biowarfare figures intervened with the media to suppress or downplay any stories of the methods that had been used to destroy Japanese agriculture. Given such apparent success against Japan, it was hardly surprising that such anti-crop techniques soon became an important component of our Cold War strategy, though the consequences may have sometimes been counter-productive.

By they had developed powerful anti-wheat strains, and the project was put into full production. A huge stockpile of spores was required in order to be able to deal a crushing blow to the USSR food supply, far more than could be produced in the enclosed Ft. Detrick greenhouses that had been used for testing purposes, so our experts began cultivating the fungal parasite on large sections of open acreage. The spores were extremely light, could be lofted up to 10, feet into the air by winds, and a single pustule might produce , new spores.

Although our biowarriors surely tried to be careful, mistakes do sometimes happen, and while no attack upon Soviet agriculture ever took place, beginning in our own wheat crop was devastated by five years of mysterious wheat rust epidemics, which eventually encompassed twelve states and by had destroyed a quarter of our bread wheat and three-quarters of our pasta wheat. This timing may have been purely coincidental, but Baker notes that a declassified Air Force report reveals that the main spore cultivation efforts had occurred in generally the same states which then became the epicenters of the spreading blight. Sometimes such mistakes must be repeated before they are fully admitted.

By the early s, Ft. This effort continued until when a huge wheat rust epidemic severely damaged the farmlands of much of Kansas and Nebraska, after which the project was halted. Although most of these historical facts have been known to academic specialists for decades, or could be discovered by those who actively searched them out, they have been much less likely to appear in more general works. His work Legacy of Ashes runs pages, and is considered an authoritative history of the CIA, but when I read it a year or two ago, I saw virtually no mention anywhere of biological weapons let alone their actual use, and rechecking the index just now confirmed my recollection.

However, this climate of media avoidance has recently begun changing. Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA researcher described in the title. At first glance, mind-control and biological warfare might seem entirely dissimilar topics, but they actually share considerable areas of overlap. Both required the creation and use of dangerous biological or biochemical agents, which for maximal effectiveness must then be tested upon unwilling human subjects, often in dangerous or lethal ways.

Since in this regard they obviously operate outside the boundaries of normal legality, especially in peacetime, their use must be kept entirely secret, naturally matching them with the proclivities of an intelligence agency such as the CIA. Throughout his book Kinzer emphasized the considerable overlapping personnel and resources between these two domains.

There is an additional and rather ironic connection between the Ft. Detrick biowarfare programs and the unsuccessful CIA efforts at mind-control. As discussed above, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that the severe military setbacks of the early Korean War had prompted America to surreptitiously employ biological warfare, though the military impact was hardly enormous. Then in , a much larger aerial effort dropped insects, rodents, and other obvious potential disease carriers on Communist-held territory, including parts of China.

Baker believes that these later attacks were mostly elements of psychological warfare, with no effort made to infect the potential carriers with diseases, but obviously both the enemy governments and the pilots involved would have assumed that actual biological attacks were once again taking place. So when some of the American pilots were shot down and captured, they confessed to these apparent germ-warfare attacks, signing statements and admitting the facts to foreign visitors, thereby serving as the centerpiece of a major Communist propaganda campaign.

Since such actions would have been considered war-crimes, their widespread recognition might have produced a huge public relations disaster for America, and they were heatedly denied in the strongest possible terms as ridiculous Communist propaganda, with these determined public efforts to suppress the facts largely succeeding within the Western bloc. Upon their return, these captured flyers were threatened with court-martials, causing them to repudiate their statements as having been made under duress. But the records show that any such coercion was almost entirely psychological, with virtually no claims of harsh physical treatment or torture.

This naturally raised the problem of explaining away the detailed and seemingly credible public statements of those captured American officers and why they had confessed to supposedly non-existent war crimes. These ideas also soon entered the popular culture, with the classic example being The Manchurian Candidat e, a bestseller that became an even more influential film. The fictional work tells the story of a captured American soldier transformed by Chinese brainwashing into a programmed assassin used to remove any human obstacles to a Communist seizure of our political system, and for decades afterward brainwashing remained a staple of fictional suspense plots.

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