Some people maintain that there are striking similarities between George Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984 and American society today.
The farm in Animal Farm is a symbol of Russia and other totalitarian regimes. It was first published in 1945 by George Orwell (1903-1950) four years before he approached the same subject in 1949 in his book 1984. Both strongly opposed communist totalitarianism, although they advocated a kind of democratic socialism.
In Animal Farm, most of the farm animals who were living under the cruel treatment of the farmer, rebelled against the human farmer with the goal to create a new enlightened society where animals would no longer be enslaved to the farmer but be free, equal to one another, and happy. Their plan fails, as did the Russian revolution of 1917, when a pig became a dictator, as when Stalin took control of Russia, and as the totalitarian society that emerged after the war in 1984, and the farm was placed in the same situation as before the rebellion. It began when the idea that all are equal was changed to the totalitarian contention that some are more equal than others.
Animal Farm and 1984, have many similarities that some people see in today’s America.
Both books stress that political power is obtained by controlling the thinking and behavior of citizens.
Language is manipulated by those in power and their allies to help control the masses.
The government leaders forge many rules that lead to control and dictatorship.
Education is restricted in the two Orwellian novels because control over the ignorant is easier than over people who are educated.
The two books have people in control rewriting history.
Both have leaders blame former leaders for current problems.
People and animals are shown in the books to be willing to do what leaders say if they seem to say the right things even if they are lies.
The book Animal Farm was banned by the United Arab Emirates because the UAE felt it mocked Islamic values. Many in America want to ban it today.
George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian science fiction novel has a leader Emanuel Goldstein, called “Big Brother,” while all other citizens are called brother and sister without the adjective “Big,” to suggest the lie that all citizens are equal. Big Brother and his cohorts watch and control the citizens of the country called Oceania, possibly so called to remind us of the fabled Atlantis, an ideal land, a paradise. The Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Love, and the Ministry of Plenty are the four ministries of the government of Oceania. All teach the citizens lies. For example, the torture chamber, ironically called Room 101, suggesting the begining of the lesson to only love the State, where a prisoner is inflicted with his worst nightmare or phobia, is in the Ministry of Love. It is there that a cage of rats was placed over Winston Smith’s head to force him to accept Big Brother.
Oceania is not the only name that is ironic. The first name of the hero in the tale, Winston, is a mockery because he is not a winner. Smith is one of the most common surnames and symbolizes all men. Julia is an ancient Roman name meaning “supreme god,” a sarcasm since she is powerless.
Since Oceania, Winston, Smith, Julia, and the word brother can be seen as ironic and a symbol for something beyond itself, is it possible that the hated Big Brother Emanuel Goldstein, which is a common Jewish name with Emanuel meaning in Hebrew “we are with God” anti-Semitic?
Winston and Julia, two lovers, are punished and brainwashed because the totalitarian government wants to suppress sex, love, and relationships with the goal to turn human desires into energy focusing on the party.
When the lovers are captured, despite the horrors of torture, Winston’s love for Julia and his hate for Big Brother were the only things that kept him from giving up his feelings entirely. Many readers of 1984 feel that Orwell is telling readers that totalitarian regimes will not win at the end. Because of Winston and Julia’s love relationship, there is a chance over time, at first only in a small way, for victory in a dystopia. Winston says that the “spirit of man” will ultimately defeat totalitarian regimes.
In 1981, in Jackson County, Florida, 1984 was challenged as being pro-communism despite Orwell’s hatred of communism.
I really liked Animal Farm. 1984 was all about in the name of safety taking all our rights. But an even better book is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I think Brave new world is more true. 1984 has problems. It says people give up rights for safety but brave new world says that people give up rights for luxury. People don’t really care about safety. If they did they wouldn’t fly right past you on the road. Even the speed limit would be too fast for them but this proves that people are not interested in safety but comfort. People will never give up comfort. Yes, I think we already reached the point. There are similarities. If you read the book (it’s not a long book; you could read it in one day) and it’s very, very interesting, your realize that we’re there already. Brave new world is a better version, more true, in my opinion. Thanks for the review.
Great analysis Turk. I agree.
To the question is Goldstein an anti-Semitic trope on the part of Orwell. I think not. I think this recent piece quoting Orwell in 1945 paints a truer picture of his attitude to Jewry in Britain ( https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/antisemitism-in-britain/ ).
I am inclined to the view that in Goldstein we are seeing a reflection of Trotsky. And I feel Orwell was not neutral in his recognition of the role played by Jews in the early history of the Soviet. He was a staunch anti-Communist but not I think anti-Semite.
I thought this piece from the Jerusalem Post a fine summary of that contribution Jews made to the early Soviet :- https://www.jpost.com/magazine/was-the-russian-revolution-jewish-514323