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Monday, December 19, 2016

Ayn Rand’s Criticism of Orwell’s Animal Farm

George Orwell is often regarded as a right-wing writer, but he was a lifelong socialist. In his writings he has criticized totalitarianism but he never said anything in favor of capitalism.

His famous book Animal Farm is a satire on Soviet Union—every event in the book mirrors an event in the Soviet Union, from the Bolshevik Revolution to Stalin’s purges and personality cult.

But Animal Farm is not a critique of socialism and communism, just Stalin’s regime. Orwell did not regard Stalin’s Soviet Union as a socialist country. He thought that Stalin had corrupted the socialist ideal. Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union but continued to call himself a socialist. He thought that a real socialist state cannot be totalitarian, and that a socialist state ruled by a benevolent liberal government was the best option for mankind.

Orwell had a low opinion of capitalism. He believed that the capitalist countries are rife with class warfare and oppression of the masses. He equated capitalism with fascism. Animal Farm is full of egalitarian ideas and it can be seen as a parable on the problems caused by capitalism.

On August 29, 1946, Ayn Rand wrote a letter to Leonard Reed in which she said that Orwell’s Animal Farm was a preachment of communism and a perverse disfiguration of rational political ideas. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

As an advance warning, for God’s sake DON’T recommend Animal Farm. You have probably heard about it—it’s a little booklet that has just come out and is being whopped up as a lesson against Communism, which it is not. I have read it. It made me sick. It is a book against Stalin, not against Communism. In fact, it is the mushiest and most maudlin preachment of Communism (I suppose the author would call it Socialism, but there is no difference), that I have seen in a long time. The moral of the book is not: “Communism is evil,” but: “Stalin’s Communism is just as evil as Capitalism.” Don’t let’s help preach that idea.” ~ (Source: Letters of Ayn Rand)

It is worth noting that there is lot of anti-booze propaganda in Animal Farm. The Bolshevik type revolution happens in the animal farm when the farmer gets drunk and forgets to feed the animals. When Napoleon, the pig, wants money for whiskey he has the horse Boxer killed for his parts. In the novel’s climax there is a drunken brawl between the humans and the pigs.

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