This is a regrettably slow-paced talk by David Ramsay Steele, now a libertarian, who was once a Marxist but such a serious and critical scholar that he saw through the whole socialist/collectivist thing and turned against it.
The talk is about George Orwell, his life and work, his shifting views on politics. The points that I want to report came from the end. The whole thing is good, especially if you want to know more about Orwell and also the shifting orientation of the communists and their fellow travellers during the 1930s.
During the 1930s it appeared that both democracy and capitalism could not survive – Steele listed the European nations that departed from democracy in recent decades; Russia in 1917, Italy, Lithuania & Poland 1926, Albania 1928, Yugoslavia 1929, Portugal 1938, Latvia & Bulgaria 1934, Estonia 1935, Spain & Romania 1939.
The left had two beliefs: 1. Socialism is better than capitalism and 2. Capitalism is doomed (a view shared with many non-socialists).
By the time Orwell came to review “The Road to Serfdom” in 1944 his thoughts had evolved and a clue came around 1940 when he regularly referred to TOTALITARIANISM which he saw as an evil in the communist system that existed in Russia.
Steele listed 5 points:
1. Socialism should replace capitalism.
2. Collectivism will come one way or another.
3. Collectivism may be DEMOCRATIC or it may be TOTALITARIAN.
4. Democratic collectivism is better than capitalism BUT CAPITALISM IS BETTER THAN TOTALITARIAN COLLECTIVISM.
CAPITALISM SOCIALISM MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE. (Sorry to early readers, a major misprint).
The implication is that capitalism should be saved from socialism, with all its faults, because worse would follow after socialism. Orwell did not say this, and Steele did not suggest that he even suggested it, or thought it through far enough to see a political solution. However 1984 is his imaginative depiction of the end game of socialism after the totalitarian tendencies have fully taken over.
The purposes of this post is to point out that this process is not just a morbid figment of Orwell’s imagination because it is happening in front of us as we observe the statements and the actions of the hard left, ignorant young thrill-seekers and many rusted-on supporters of the ALP. We see orchestrated hate speech (even on the national public broadcaster), black depicted as white and vice versa, history being re-written (the stolen generation etc). Truly we live in interesting times and 1984 remains a tract for our times.