I had an itch so I read Orwell’s Animal Farm this weekend. I’d always heard how important this piece was in communicating the experience of living in a Communist society – especially one which was transitioning between leaders. However I haven’t had time to read much in the last few years. It was a good way to fill a lazy Sunday morning.
What shocked me was how many events in the book would serve as a dead ringer for our current two-party government. This is not to say I’m classifying our government as a Communist system, but see how many of the following you recognize.
- Constant rewriting of history by the government to favor the current party
- The governing party consistently awarding themselves excess benefits, because they deserve it due to their hard work. Also, there’s no check against doing so.
- Justifying any governmental action based on the threat of an invented enemy
- The gradual degradation of people’s benefits over time, in order to make up for a government allocating resources to serve their own interests instead of the people’s
- Holding the country’s progress hostage until the leader’s demands are met
- Reliance on a naive public who will accept any fact as true, and generally not trust their instincts when something doesn’t make logical sense
- Mandating song and prose which favors Nationalism over Individualism
- Governance by a group of individuals with no experience of what it is like to perform a hard day’s work
The last bullet is the one which truly separates Communism from Capitalism. In Animal Farm, we follow the story as the intended “free farm” moves through Communism and quickly into a Totalitarian state. Had the farm stayed Communist, all the animals would have worked equally. However once the pigs take over – which is accomplished by all the above actions – there is a clear class delineation where they will no longer work because they are above such activities. In our Capitalist Democracy, the public holds no expectation that lawmakers have any idea what it is like to work in the industries they are governing. The individuals in power are there because they have been groomed into politics and they are the best at telling people what they want to hear.