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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Can Socialists be Happy?

In his essay, Can Socialists be Happy (1943), George Orwell is of he view that happiness is concept alien to socialism, and a socialist regime or utopia will not care about making its citizens happy.

He writes, "By far the best known modern Utopias are those of H.G. Wells. Wells's vision of the future is almost fully expressed in two books written in the early Twenties, The Dream and Men Like Gods. Here you have a picture of the world as Wells would like to see it or thinks he would like to see it. It is a world whose keynotes are enlightened hedonism and scientific curiosity. All the evils and miseries we now suffer from have vanished. Ignorance, war, poverty, dirt, disease, frustration, hunger, fear, overwork, superstition all vanished. So expressed, it is impossible to deny that that is the kind of world we all hope for. We all want to abolish the things Wells wants to abolish. But is there anyone who actually wants to live in a Wellsian Utopia? On the contrary, not to live in a world like that, not to wake up in a hygenic garden suburb infested by naked schoolmarms, has actually become a conscious political motive. A book like Brave New World is an expression of the actual fear that modern man feels of the rationalised hedonistic society which it is within his power to create. A Catholic writer said recently that Utopias are now technically feasible and that in consequence how to avoid Utopia had become a serious problem. We cannot write this off as merely a silly remark. For one of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world. All 'favourable' Utopias seem to be alike in postulating perfection while being unable to suggest happiness."

In the concluding paragraph of the essay, Orwell writes, "Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache."

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