by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
– “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
- “Some apes, it seems, are more equal than others.”
- “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!”
One of those quotes is from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, another was said by Charlton Heston towards a primate who rejected ape-human equality during the court interrogation scene from Planet of the Apes, and another quote is made up but may sound familiar to those who have seen that movie.
I feel bad for George Orwell: Whenever Western capitalism-imperialism has a crisis (like now) he gets trotted out to show that totalitarian dictatorship is the only alternative to Western liberal democracy – totalitarian dictatorship (socialist, Islamo-fascist, Yellow Vester (on the left) or Michigander (on the right), etc.) reveals that they actually do acknowledge that “TINA” is false. A logical corollary of this claim is that Western liberal (bourgeois) democracy has absolutely zero embedded totalitarian aspects… at least for now.
Orwell has thus become more useful to the Western far-right (on the political and the economic spectrums) than he ever could have imagined.
His first book, Burmese Days, showed who the man really was at heart: a romantic novelist who was bumbling with women, and who added serious politics to his love stories (1984 is a love story as well) after participating in the surprisingly mundane imperialist economic atrocities of the British. Burmese Days is said – in that quintessentially English manner – to have “rather let the side down”. Bad form, old chap, LOL!
Orwell said he simply reported what he witnessed: zero-conscience capitalists and English female invader-colonists who had half the heart he did and who cared only about money and status. This rather dispirited the young romantic, but not enough that he gave up his politically-bumbling English Trotskyist-Romanticism.
During the corona hysteria and Great Lockdown neoliberals and libertarians have been flinging Orwell at those who correctly assert that modern government has a duty to protect the medical and economic health of the average citizen: they defensively rant that that a government exists only to fund a huge foreign army and a tiny domestic police, and that “government overreach” to create a super-caste of Animal Farm-ian, zero-conscience pig rulers must not be tolerated.
It’s a completely hysterical argument, no? To fearmong about Western liberalism going from near-zero government involvement to government-caste totalitarian domination?
Yet, just as in 2008, American Founding Father-Salafists love to exhume Orwell (but not his anti-imperialist side) to fearmong and remind with misplaced piety that, nay, ye olde lawgivers forbade government meddling (in the (debt)slave-based economy). Coincidentally, the apes in Planet of the Apes also slavishly followed the dictates of their historic leader known as “the Lawgiver”, whose writings and quotes formed their political system suited for lower primates.
The individual freedom-lovers know exactly what Orwell would say if he were alive in 2020, indeed!
What they don’t ask is: Why in 2020 would Orwell not perhaps try to see where totalitarian elements already exist within the Western system?
The never-discussed aspects of totalitarianism within neoliberal ideology – it’s not what you think
“Totalitarianism” is defined as one group having total control of a government – an autocratic leader or hierarchy with central control – and that this group controls all aspects of life.
Neoliberals, despite all the QE that gets rammed through yet barely trickles down, and the way that high finance totally dominates their fiscal policy, elections and media, fail to see that bankers occupy the same power-dominating role in their system as did the upper-caste pigs in Animal Farm.
Orwell “rather let the side down” because he unveiled the totalitarian piggishness of the English invader-colonisers and their low-minded, social climbing wives and daughters in colonies like Burma.
Yes, the modern spy states of the US, UK and France have manipulated information technology to create surveillance far, far more intrusive than the Stasi raised to the power of KGB – we all know that already. Their willingness and ability to use drones to precision-bomb Muslim wedding parties is the height of military totalitarian barbarity, certainly, but this is not the extent of totalitarianism within the ideology of the Western liberal system.
The individual freedom-lovers insist they are trying to prevent something from being embedded by warning, “Totalitarianism is only something that they do, not us”. This idea, much like how the West does not have any propaganda – only non-Westerners do, is incredibly chauvinistic. Westerners need to realise that from the non-Western point of view: This is an atrocious, sinfully-arrogant mindset.
When I look at the data and write that “capitalism with Western characteristics” makes bankers their vanguard party, Westerners don’t know how to take it. They insist that their politics are totally free of any vanguard party – such as the Communist Party in China or the Basij/mullahs in Iran – and that there are certainly not any aspects of totalitarianism in the West. Their claims are disproven by the fact that one never hears in the West any questioning of either capitalism or imperialism, i.e. their economic ideology.
Thus there is indeed totalitarianism in the Western system, nowhere more so than in its economic aspects. They don’t see this because they aren’t permitted to discuss it freely – their vanguard party prevents that.
Perhaps consenting to coronavirus tracking is too much of a restriction on your civil liberties – fine – but this as a political issue which has nothing to do with possible economic totalitarian structures within the West. However, by focusing solely on such non-economic concepts such as corona tracking countries like France are able to jingoistically assert that they are the leader of human rights, to give one example of Western hypocrisy.
But how, one wonders, can a government ever be separated from economics? Answer: no, it cannot achieve this in the absolute, yet aristocratic Western liberalism (referred to as “neoliberalism” in the 21st century West) does indeed endeavour to separate the two as much as possible and relies on totalitarianism to do so.
The only groups allowed to interact with the government in an economic fashion in the West are easily found: high finance bankers, and the military (in the US, the Pentagon). Plato said democracy leads to tyranny, but this is very broad – in the modern era Western liberal democracy leads to corporate fascist tyranny.
Western individual freedom-worshippers apparently prefer their tiny caste of banker-general pigs, as opposed to having a a grassroots, enormous “caste” of public servants, postmen, nurses, garbagemen, teachers, etc. and etc.
Either leave Orwell alone, or the left will start distorting Ayn Rand
LOL, but clearly we would have the less pleasant task: Orwell’s artistic talents were so, so much greater than Rand’s amphetamine-fuelled paranoia that the government is out to get her.
The question with Orwell is what was his highest allegiance? Was he primarily a romantic novelist, whose highest ideal was art and not socialist victory? Or was he a dedicated Trotskyist, thus bumblingly dedicated to undermining socialist victories. Seems like both.
Orwell opposed the USSR and especially Stalin perhaps because he thought politics should reflect art, when that is absurd, impossible and idealistic to the point of unworkability.
Crucially, he published Animal Farm in 1945 – the Soviets were fighting a defensive war for their lives, where it’s hardly the time to say “Bad form, old chap!” Thus, Orwell’s view of Stalinism was entirely predicated on seeing them in abnormal, martial conditions – it is like judging Iran in 2020 with how it was in 1984, when it was at war with Iraq: it’s preposterous to do so, and certain to lead to false, negative distortions.
Orwell certainly failed to see how Moscow became the first empire to bleed itself for its periphery. Nor was Orwell around long enough to see and judge his political heir, the bumbling fake-leftist Jeremy Corbyn.
Orwell was yet another Western European who vainly groped for that elusive European “Third Way”, but he was a great writer and a fine human being nonetheless. He was certainly no fake-leftist, but he was rather on the right-wing of the left spectrum.
Of course, opposing the USSR makes one a fake-leftist and that is simply a modern political fact: the political spectrum is real and cannot be disregarded on your exasperated whim.
Orwell would be 116 today, and while we can argue if he would lament the implosion of the USSR, (I certainly assume he was leftist enough for that) one thing is certain: he would not have said that the Western model is devoid of totalitarianism, which was what Westerners who talk about Orwell during a crisis overtly assert.
Orwell gave ammunition to the left, and that is why the right tries to repurpose him – in order to steal the left’s thunder. They also do that by arrogantly insisting that modern Westernism somehow fundamentally repels totalitarianism, whereas socialist-inspired systems cannot help but attract totalitarianism. False, absurd, inaccurate – a caricature, like representing human society as being animals on a farm.
Trump current gunning for the postal service comes after they came for France’s highways or the UK’s rails – fearmongering about the power of “big government” (which is not at all synonymous with “big, socialist-inspired government) always relies on not unveiling the status quo choice offered to Westerners: bankocracy.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020
Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.