You are on page 1of 2

Orwells view on Capitalism Slide1 y George Orwell was a socialist: against class injustice y For Orwell, an ideal society

was one of absolute equality of all people y Although Animal Farm spoke mostly against the USSR and Stalins totalitarian rule, Orwells criticism is broader than just the Russian Revolution. He spoke out against all political tyranny, including capitalism y Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a countrys trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit. o With capitalism comes inequality. With inequality comes oppression from the upper class; exploitation of the working class. This is what Orwell is against Slide 2 y Orwell came from a poorer background y Orwell was a victim of the English Public School system o Bullied for his lower social status o Convinced Orwell that there existed in his country an unfair social hierarchy based upon social status and wealth y After leaving school Orwell served with the Indian Imperial Police Force in Burma o Made him suspicious of the entrenched class system in the English society o He was exposed to the oppressive, corrupted rule of the upper class in India o He saw how the upper class exploited colonial possession for financial gain while leaving Englands working class in poverty and squalor Slide 3 y After leaving the Burmese police, he voluntarily lived in poverty amongst the down-and-outs. o Realizing that he had been deeply hated in Burma as a representative of the British empire, he was left with a bad conscience o Experienced coal mining first hand o Struck by the unjust divide of living standards o I was conscious of an immense weight of guilt that I had got to expiate. I felt that I had got to escape not merely from imperialism but from every form of mans dominion over man. I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against their tyrants Orwell Slide 4

y y y

His experiences with social elitism at school, his familiarity with British imperialism as well as his experience living with the down-and-outs developed his anti-capitalist views o His dislike of the moneyed classes in turn influenced him toward a lifelong loyalty to democratic socialism The trouble with capitalism is that somebody has to win -Orwell To him capitalism was merely the instrument of a corrupt upper class to keep in place the power structures inherent in a hierarchical society Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader-worship and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can be somehow combined with freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong can be restored o Orwells realizes that his advocacy for socialism is rather idealistic, but works towards it anyway

Preface by Russel Baker y He was that political figure all politicians fear: the moralist who cannot bear to let any wrong deed go undenounced. As a politician he had the fatal defect of the totally honest man. He insisted on the truth even when the truth was most inconvenient LINKS TO ANIMAL FARM y It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat. (Orwell, Shmoop) o Although Animal Farm is ultimately a satire against communism/totalitarianism, Jones and the other farmers are vilified as well. Orwell criticizes the humans just as much. y Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. (28) o Although some may argue that this is just an exaggeration by Old Major, this passage holds some truth. I think Orwell is deliberately criticizing capitalism as well. y Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilizes it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin (29) o This passage portrays how the upper class exploits the working class. Orwell is criticizing capitalism and the greediness that comes with it; inequality y One of them, which was named Foxwood, was a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm, much overgrown by woodland, with all its pastures worn out and its hedges in a disgraceful condition. (55)