A Journal for Western Man




Orwell's Warning:


G. Stolyarov II

Issue XI- February 14, 2003


This is the second essay in Mr. Stolyarov's "Orwell's Warning" series. The first essay is "Orwell's Warning: Collectivism."

Yet it seems in the Party rhetoric that the survival of man (with that of the individual, as has been demonstrated in previous chains of reasoning, being a required precursor to that of the species) is an aim which the tyrants deliberately avoid. O'Brien concedes this as well. "Suppose that we choose to wear ourselves out faster. Suppose that we quicken the tempo of human life till men are senile at thirty. Still what difference would it make? Can you not understand that the death of the individual is not death? The Party is immortal." (p. 221) Will the Party be immortal once the individual life span is condensed to that of the hopelessly miserable hunter-gatherers and comfort is nowhere in proximity? The Party will collapse, yet not without dragging behind it into the abyss of extinction the remainder of Homo sapiens! This is not merely an effect of their blunder, but rather a deliberate plot to destruct the species by undermining progress.

The rise of Party despotism occurred in an era at the conclusion of the Second World War, when a burdened free world had just wrestled itself from the clutches of Nazi oppression, Japanese sacrifice ethic, and Italian fascism. An autocratic exploitation of Marxist theory had emerged as a menace to capitalism, which was a system of ideally free economic exchanges undertaken by individuals for their particular comforts, thus fueling progress. The new regime was an amalgam of national-socialism, sacrifice ethic, fascism, and Marxism which became the glue of Party dogma. The similarities between its teachings and those of totalitarian governments before it are striking and intended on the part of Mr. Orwell. "The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. Before the revolution they had been hideously oppressed by the capitalists, they had been starved and flogged, women had been forced to work in the coal mines (women still did work in the coal mines, as a matter of fact), children had been sold into factories at the age of six. But simultaneously, true to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules. In reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary to know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle let loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty." (p. 61)

Such a miserable existence, perpetuated by the elite in order to render the proletariat irrelevant, would have been contrary in its entirety to a system of free exchange of goods, where every individual, proletarian or bourgeois, would have possessed maximum social mobility in proportion to the merits of his skills and those of his choices. In a system of capitalism persons who behave rationally, in the genuine interests of their comfort, the freedom from obstacles to their organism's proper life and functions, are rewarded to the greatest possible extent, while persons blundering under the unintelligible influences of instinct and sacrifice are penalized and disadvantaged. Where progress is encouraged, progress occurs, and the individual thrives, no longer existing as a mere function of class or social conditions but rather an autonomous entity, a unique phenomenon dependent entirely on his own ingenuity and resolve. The "oppression of the proletariat" is a myth invented by collectivists in order to justify the latter faction's own crimes against the working class, the perpetual binding of the class structure of the status quo, where the individual would possess neither means nor rights nor stimuli toward amelioration.

Of course, with an establishment that holds as its fundamental precept the infliction of suffering, such malignant lies fall into place in the greater malevolence of the despotism itself. Social mobility and the humanizing of human living conditions (of yet inadequate in all but those nations encouraging unrestricted commerce) are a direct consequence of technological progress, a truth perceived with clarity by Mr. Orwell as well as the Party oligarchs. "But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction-- indeed, in some sense was the destruction-- of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motorcar or even an airplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance." (p. 156) Poverty and ignorance, then, the antitheses of wealth and enlightenment, were the horrendous weapons employed for the suppression of technological advancement. The United States of America today is a nation of over one million millionaires, the first in the world of its class, due in large part to trade policies of the greatest laxity and a general encouragement in its traditional culture (prior to the advent of the Sixties revolts, which shall be further examined) of tools to transform this society of man into a literal paradise. In our land today what destitution prevails amongst the unprivileged few is due to commercial restrictions and violations of the free market (which, too, shall be studied in greater detail in a further section). Orwell's theory has manifested itself in practice, and the Party intellectuals possessed hints that such would be the precise outcome. This they could not tolerate.

"Science and technology were developing at a prodigious speed, and it seemed natural to assume that they would go on developing. This failed to happen, partly because of the impoverishment caused by a long series of wars and revolutions, partly because scientific and technological progress depended on the empirical habit of thought, which could not survive in a strictly regimented society." (p. 156) The collectivist restrictions on the individual's freedom to interact with his surroundings for the procurement of such data as was necessary to furnish advancement in the realm of tools had resulted, in Orwell's dystopia, in a virtual stagnation of those aspects required to attain genuine immortality.

A mere coincidence of events? Not in the remotest likelihood. "From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. And in fact, without being used for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process-- by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not to distribute-- the machine did raise the living standards of the average human being very greatly over a period of fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries." (p. 156) Humankind toward the conclusion of the Gilded Age had risen to unparalleled magnificence as a result of the implementation of capitalism and individualism and their spread throughout the globe by agents of Western powers collaborating with less sophisticated cultures in order to elevate the latter in exchange for economic partnerships. Schools, railroads, sea routes, factories, stores, offices, had all sprung up in mere decades at an unprecedented rate across previously untamed portions of the Earth. For the first time in history the vast majority of men had enjoyed conditions of comfort, entering the positive loop that may well have granted them the ultimate reward for ingenuity, first, the immortality of the human species, then, following several additional centuries of exploration, the perpetuity of the individual himself!  Yet with aims such as those of inflicting torment, persecution and suffering for the perpetuation of the very hierarchical oligarchy antithetical to ideal meritocracy, the suppression of technological progress and Gilded Age mentality was precisely the aim of the Party. Orwell warns even of this tendency prevalent in the totalitarian takeover. "With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered. Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted." (p. 168) Therefore the Party chose to devastate the very capitalist system that rendered possible this ascent of the machine. "But the new High group, unlike all its forerunners, did not act upon instinct, but knew what was needed to safeguard its position. It has been long realized that the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism. Wealth and privilege are most easily defended when they are possessed jointly. The so-called 'abolition of private property' which took place in the middle years of the century meant, in effect, the concentration of property in far fewer hands than before; but with this difference, that the new owners were a group instead of a mass of individuals. Individually, no member of the Party owns anything, except petty personal belongings. Collectively, the Party owns everything in Oceania, because it controls everything and disposes of the products as it thinks fit. In the years following the Revolution it was able to step into this commanding position almost unopposed, because the whole process was represented as an act of collectivization. It has always been assumed that if the capitalist class were expropriated, Socialism must follow; and unquestionably the capitalists had been expropriated. Factories, mines, land, houses, transport-- everything had been taken away from them; and since these things were no longer private property, it followed that they must be public property. Ingsoc, which grew out of the earlier Socialist movement and inherited its phraseology, has in fact carried out the main item in the Socialist program, with the result, foreseen and intended beforehand, that economic inequality has been made permanent." (p. 170) In that passage, then, lies the ultimate verification that collectivism and the suppression of progress exist side-by-side, the latter inevitably accompanying the former as a means of intentionally inflicting human suffering.

Such an illusion of an ideological paradox seems odd at first glance for an offspring of Marxist socialism, which holds in its fundamental principles the aspiration for a utopia in which all human beings would suffer no persecution and lack, and even the government itself would gradually wither away due to a lack of necessity for its presence. Yet Herr Marx's theories are contradictory in that regard. The implementation of such an "equality" must, according to Marx, be forced through an overthrow of the capitalist order and an institution of a strong central government to artificially impose it based on class distinctions such as "bourgeoisie" and "proletariat". This collective perception of what is genuinely a circumstantial gathering of discrete figures and aspects of character, of, in summation, distinct individuals, is a root of a collective government in itself, which sacrifices entity for class, progress for power, survival for suffering. Absent the view of individuals as merely fingernails of a greater organism or merely dispensable portions of a continually prevailing whole, no such scheme of automaton manufacture as that which the Party had undertaken with the children of its subject populace would have been anywhere near realization. Genuine equality cannot be forced or imposed through regulations, for genuine equality is contained in equal opportunity, wherein a man may be elevated to a position of his choosing dependent on his particular merits and those alone, irrespective of whatever crudely labeled echelon of society he may emerge from. This true equality, then, is a product of the capitalist system, which holds progress and comfort in their rightful place, as necessities instead of obstacles. And it is this condition which is deliberately and vehemently thwarted by the vicious heads of Oceania through their opposition to technology and individualism.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue XI Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.