Lesson 83- 1984 and Animal Farm
Well, did you try to imagine the world described in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” whose lyrics I used to end my last program. If you did, then you were imagining the vision that the anti-Christians forces behind the French Revolution had for a New World Order that found its most concrete expression in those nations that have experienced a Communist Revolution.
It’s a very compelling dream until you start to analyze it and begin to understand its implications. It is much less compelling when you see its principles put into practice and begin to realize that although it may bring certain physical benefits to those who adopt its system, it has a debilitating affect on their spirit.
The Jesuits say that we always owe our opponents a fair representation of their ideas and positions. Thus, it does not serve the purpose of Truth to demonize any system, such as Communism, without recognizing its positive contributions. For example, any honest observer has to admit that Communism in Russian and China and elsewhere had improved the lives of the people especially in areas of education, health care, and standard of living. We in the Capitalistic world like to compare Communism to our own system, but that is unfair first, because it is unfair to compare it to modern Capitalism, which has gone through its own history of reform, instead of to the harsher form that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and second, because fairness requires that it should be compared to the conditions that existed in those countries prior to Communism.
Thus, one should compare Communism in Russian and China to the feudal systems that existed in both countries prior to the Communist revolutions. Both involved a privileged noble class and a largely uneducated and oppressed serf class. For example, Communism in Russia should be compared the conditions that existed before 1917 when Russia, unlike the rest of Europe, was still locked in feudalism. Communism in China should be compared to the China described in Pearl Buck’s book “The Good Earth” which described a starving serf class that at times had to eat the earth itself and was forced to sell their own children into servitude to the region’s rich landowners. Likewise, one should compare Communism in Cuba to the vice-ridden, and morally corrupt system that existed under the dictatorship of Baptista.
To do so is not to justify or support the abuses of Communism but merely to honestly recognize that there were positive changes that accompanied these Communist revolutions. However, as the scriptures says, “men do not live by bread alone” and thus any physical gains that Communism may have brought to its adherents, was undermined by its violations against the human spirit.
And that is why the Russian man who was interviewed following the collapsed of the Communist system in the Soviet Union had said that the worst impact that Communism had on the Russian people was that charity had disappeared. In other words, in the super-welfare state of Communism, the personal responsibility that each person should have had towards his fellow man was taken over by the welfare agencies of the state and the political leaders who were the dispensers of these benefits assumed a god-like role in the lives of the people. Thus statues of Marx, Lenin, Castro and Mao stood in public squares and their pictures hung in buildings and classrooms where in Christian countries similar representations of Jesus, Mary, and the saints would hang.
Because of its intent to take care of the physical needs of people, the theory of Communism attracted a lot of good people who were interested in social justice. In particular, it attracted many secular Jewish people who had lost their religious connection to Judaism with its linear historical view that was always looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. However, they didn’t lose their vision for a utopian society in which “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality” would reign. Thus, these secular humanist, who often belonged to the professional and intellectual classes, began to say, “There is no God to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself.”
When the French Revolution failed by turning into a Reign of Terror instead of a secular, utopian society based on Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality, they didn’t lose heart because they knew that there would be other revolutions that would succeed. Thus, in 1917, when Lenin and the Communist Party seized control of the revolution against the Czar and turned it into a Communist Revolution, secular humanist throughout the world looked forward to the implementation of the theory into practice. They were sure that once the world saw the theory in practice that it would convince everybody that Communism was the “wave of the future.”
Some left their native countries and emigrated to Russia to become part of this New World Order. Others began to create Communist cells in their own countries and looked forward to when a similar revolution would bring the blessing of Communism to them. Still others became professional agitators who worked to stir us discontentment in other countries and to steer it towards a Communist revolution.
However, the worst thing that can happen to any theory is to move from the drawing board to reality because it rarely operates according to the expectations of its supporters. Reality has a way of revealing the hidden defects and Communism was no exception. Even Lenin, who lived only seven years after the revolution, began to wonder whether the goals of Communism could ever be achieved because he discovered that even the noblest ideas become distorted and sidetracked when they have to be implemented by weak and selfish human beings. Thus, as soon as Lenin died, a power struggle began between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky that caused Trotsky to flee Russia. For years he continued to oppose Stalin’s brand of Communism and, in 1940, he was assassinated in Mexico City by a Spanish Communist who planted an axe in his head. So much for “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.”
As the reality of Communism under Stalin started to filter out to the rest of the world, some pro-Communist supporters began to become disillusioned by what they heard. For example, George Orwell, the author of “1984” and “Animal Farm”, both of which are criticism of the Communist system in the Soviet Union, started out a supporter of Communism and Socialism but soon became disenchanted once he saw the theory put into practice. Instead of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” promised by the theory it became the “dictatorship of the Communist Party” and Joseph
The secular humanist who often use the Inquisition as an example to paint the Church as a dictatorial, intolerant monster often gloss over the fact that Communism, a secular humanistic society, has a record much worst than the Church when it comes to disallowing dissent or disagreement with its theories or policies. The murder of 60 million Kulaks by Stalin and the expropriation of their farms, the use of Siberia to punish political prisoners, the intolerance towards religion and believers are just a few examples of the “pot calling the pan black.” I once taught with a teacher who had emigrated from the Soviet Union who told me that no one in his Moscow apartment complex went to bed until after midnight. When I asked him, “Why?”, he said, “because they spent their time listening for the elevator to stop at their floor and the KGB never came after midnight.” When it comes to intolerance, Communism, the system, is up there at the top of the list.
It was incidents like this that caused Orwell to paint a bleak picture in his book “1984” of a dictatorial, futuristic regime in which every area of a person’s life was controlled by a state under the watchful eye of “Big Brother.” Through television cameras, spies, and entrapment, the government kept track of one’s loyalty to the state and, when disloyalty was detected, the offenders were arrested and turned over to the “Thought Police” whose job it was to retrain their minds so that not only did they obey but they wanted to obey. This, perhaps, was the most chilling aspect of this all-powerful state. It’s aim was not just to get compliance through force. It’s aim was to get into the very soul of the person so that not only did their body comply but so did their mind.
Everything in “1984” was controlled by the state including reality. If the devil is the “Father of All Lies”, then the devil was in control of “1984.” Everything was design to manipulate reality so that the only one that the people knew was the one that the state had manufactured. Through daily lectures, total control of the media, the editing and revising of history, and constant warnings against “enemies of the state”, the people were kept in a constant state of alarm and threat which caused them to look to Big Brother for their salvation. The Ministry of Truth was in reality the Ministry of Lies because it job was to twist and distort the truth to fit the present needs and policies of the state. Language itself was manipulated through a process known as “Newspeak” through which words came to have their opposite meaning. Thus, “war” was “peace” and “hate” was “love.” In fact, in one scene, a member of the Ministry of Truth was working on reducing language to a totally abstract level so that language almost lost its meaning thereby making it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to think. A modern day example would be the growing use of acronyms such as NATO, IRS, PBS, ADD where the first letter of each word is used to represent the word.
Let me digress a little here to show how all this relates to the right and left lobe of the brain.
Since the right lobe thinks in pictures, it like concrete words like “boy, girl, horse, cow, house, orange etc…” that conjure up a picture. It hates abstract words like “primary, secondary, establish, determine, facilitate etc…” because they don’t create any picture. It can listen to a long “rap song” that uses picturesque slang words that rhyme and is set to a beat but can’t concentrate on a short lecture that uses abstract, non-picturesque language. Thus, fiery Black preachers who are ranting and raving in the pulpit for a half hour cause their congregation to shout and holler their approval while serious, Catholic priest trained in theology can’t keep the congregation’s attention for more than a few minutes and that is why Jesus taught in parables and stories rather than lectures.
The more abstract any information is, the more difficult it is for the right lobe to comprehend it and that is why mathematics, which is even more abstract than language, is hated by right lobe people. Yet, it is the right lobe, which thinks holistically and is good at puzzles, that is probably the source of meaning because “meaning” is simply the way that all the different aspects of our lives “fit together” like a puzzle. On the other hand, the left lobe, which is good at focus and details, is the source of purpose. Both are necessary for a full life and people have often committed suicide because their lives have lost “all meaning and purpose.” However, “meaning”, because it involves the “Big Picture” is more important than purpose, which involves the “Small Picture”.
We can exist with just “meaning” and that is why primitive people have intricate myths that help them to tie together their reality. These myths, which are very picturesque stories, help them to explain the “why” of everything and it is not necessary that they be true so long as they create a consistent explanation of reality. However, development requires “purpose” because it presents targets towards which we must struggle. “Meaning” is like an all-encompassing circle, while “purpose” is like a line that is pointing to some objective and, as I have pointed in previous talks, the circle and the line are the two ways of looking at reality and they are related to the question of whether the purpose of life is to exist or develop. Obviously, “existence” is the foundational principle because one has to exist before he can even consider development.
Now, if I destroy the right lobe’s ability to think by placing all communication in an abstract form, I also destroy the mind’s ability to create “meaning” and if I destroy “meaning” I destroy the existential foundation that makes us who we are. Without “meaning”, I am left with mindless and will-less, obedient robots who can be directed to any purpose that suits me.
And that is what a dictatorship is all about: creating other people to carry out your will. And that is why all dictatorships have to control all information so that the only meaning that people can form is the meaning that serves the purpose of the state.
Of course this is very difficult, if not impossible, because the right lobe of our brain is capable of taking little scraps of information and, through it puzzle solving abilities, create some type of meaningful pictures.
Therefore, a even better solution than controlling the information that the mind receives is to make it impossible for the “right lobe meaning maker” to formulate any meaning by denying it access to information through the use of totally abstract language.
And that is why the Ministry of Truth had agents working on reducing language to totally abstract acronyms. If successful, language would sound something like this. The CEO with AADD wants the FD for the IRS before the EOD. Translate it says: The Chief Executive Officer with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder wants the Final Draft for the Internal Revenue Service before the End of the Day. Even translated the language is so abstract that the right lobe would be “cut out.” But taken to this level, it wouldn’t even have a “clue” to what was being said.
Thus, “1984”, like all dictatorships, is the left lobe gone wild. The Latin word “dicta” refers to language and speaking and thus we have words like dictionary and dictaphone. And, of course, the source of language and speaking is the left lobe which, because of its obsession with ordering things, is the source of law, organization, and order. Now let me return to my description of “1984.”
In the book, the two main characters are a man and woman who are having an illicit love affair in a secluded inn which they believed to be free of the television cameras that “Big Brother” uses to spy on everyone. Later, they discover that the inn was established by the state just to entrap people like them and they are arrested. Instead of going to jail, they are sent to the Ministry of Truth which, like most agencies in “1984” is the reverse of its title. Here they are subjected to “brainwashing” techniques designed to break down their love and loyalty to each other and to transfer it to the all-powerful state. The main character, Winston, resists the efforts of his interrogator by continuing to claim his love for his partner. Finally, his interrogator, using a psychological profile that the state has on Winston and everyone else, decides that he will use the last weapon in the state’s mind-control arsenal. It is a room where the person’s is confronted with his greatest fear and worst nightmare.
In Winston’s case, his psychological profile revealed that he has a horror of rats. He is taken to the room where he sees a cage with hundreds of starving rats. On the side of the cage there is a trap door with straps that, like a fencing mask, has the profile of a human face. The guards drag Winston over to the cage, open the trap door and, after forcing his face into it, begin to strap him in. As the starving rats begin to converge on his face, he screams “No! Not me! Her! No! Don’t do it to me! Do it to her!”
When Winston regains consciousness he is back in the interrogation room in the Ministry of Truth. Only this time he is a psychologically broken man. He has betrayed his lover and now all allegiances, other than the one to the state, have been eliminated. And now they own him “heart and soul.”
Later, after he is released, he meets his former girlfriend in a park. She, like him, has the same blank, washed out look. Neither of them shows any emotional signs that there was ever any intimate connection between them. After sitting silently beside each other for a few minutes, Winston says, “I betrayed you!” and, in the same listless tone, she responds, “And I betrayed you!”
Orwell wrote “1984” as a fictional representation of the Communist system under Stalin but it wasn’t too far from the actual truth. Under Stalin, dissidents who criticized the government often were sent to psychiatric hospitals where they were subjected to strong mind-altering drugs. Former Party members who fell out of favor with Stalin were erased from history by have references to them and even pictures removed from the historical record. An edition of LIFE Magazine once showed a picture of four Party leaders in the 1930’s that had been reduced to three through photographic editing after one of them had offended the Party leaders. And, of course, the public trials in the Soviet Union were notorious for the fact that there was no “due process” such as was found in this country. The accused were brought before the court only so that they could publicly confess to the charges. No one was ever found innocent because the decision had already been made long before the trial.
The most disturbing thing about Communism was that it wasn’t satisfied in controlling just people’s bodies and behavior, as previous dictatorships were. Communism wanted to get inside your head and change the way that you thought. Some people called it “brain-washing” but it could just as easily be called “soul-washing” because it attacked the basis of who you were and that is why whatever physical gains that Communism may have brought to its adherents, were undermined by its violations against the human spirit.
The Communist Chinese, during the reign of Mao, sent masses of people to be re-educated during the time of the People’s Revolution because Mao feared that they had drifted away from the orthodox position. At that time, the principle of “interchangeable parts” and “equality” were taken to the level of the absurd when teachers were removed from classrooms and sent to the farms and were replaced by farmers.
Day after day, hour after hour the suspected offenders were forced to listen to lectures and readings from the “Saying of Chairman Mao” until they had been successfully re-educated.
But Communism failed even in some of its basic assumptions. You might remember that Marx’s theory of Dialectical Materialism has said that history was the story of “class conflict” between the “haves” and “have not” and that each time a revolution took place to address the oppression of the “haves” against the “have nots”, the revolution failed to solve the problem because the “New Class” that resulted broke up again into a new group of “haves” and “have nots”. Therefore, a Communist revolution was necessary to stop this eternal cycle by eliminating the cause of class: private property. Once this took place, all ranks would disappear and all men would be “free, brothers, and equal.”
George Orwell, the disappointed socialist, took this issue up in another book called “Animal Farm”, which was a satire on the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In the book, the animals, symbolizing the proletarian working class, rise up in revolt against the farmers, symbolizing the bourgeoisie capitalistic class. The revolution was led by the pigs and, after the animals had successful ejected the farmers, the pigs, drew up a blue print for the new society that they intended to create. They wrote on the side of the barn a list of principles that the animals had to follow to prevent any of them from becoming like the farmers who had oppressed them.
Some of the principles were:
All animals are equal
No animal shall ever sleep in a bed
No animal shall ever walk on two legs.
In fact, the animals were taught the slogan, “Four legs good…two legs bad… four legs good… two legs bad.
Since the pigs, symbolizing the Communist leaders, had led the revolution, they began to assign tasks and responsibilities to the other animals that were necessary for the operation of the farm. After successfully repelling a counter-revolution by the farmers, the head pig, Napoleon, like Lenin, dies and there is a struggle for power among the remaining pigs. One of the pigs, who is destined to assume power, has hidden away a group of puppies who were orphaned when their mother was killed in the battle and, when they grow to maturity, they become, like the KGB, the enforcers of his policies.
To make the farm a “going-concern”, the pigs establish a number of economic objectives which closely resemble the Five Year Economic Plans that Stalin instituted in the Soviet Union. The animals are told that they must sacrifice for the revolution and, if they work hard now, they will receive greater benefits later.
As time passes, some animals begin to notice that the pigs don’t seem to be operating by the same rules as the rest of them. When any of them tries to object, the pigs make false accusations against them and sentenced them to be torn apart by the dogs.
The remaining animals, fearful of the same treatment, bow their heads in submission and proceed to carry out their assigned tasks. However, two of them, an old goat and a powerful horse are still true believers in the revolution and willingly work long hours to build a structure that will bring electricity to the farm. Long into the night, in rain, snow, or shine, they haul heavy stones to the site.
Meanwhile, the pigs are seen meeting with humans with whom they are making deals for the sale of the produce from the farm. According to the original rules, no laborer was suppose to be denied the “fruits of his own labor” but now it appeared that the pigs were selling what the other animals have produced and were reaping the profits for themselves.
However, things come to a climax when the loyal, hard-working, dedicated horse becomes injured and can no longer haul the heavy stones. The pigs declared that, as a reward for his loyal service, he will be retired and put out to pasture where he will spend the rest of his life in ease. Shortly after this, a truck from the local glue factory pulls up and the horse is haul away. The animals are enraged by this deception but seem powerless to do anything about it.
Then one day they notice that the principles written on the side of the barn have been altered.
The principle that first read as: “
“All animals are equal…” now reads as “Some animals are more equal
Others also have been altered to allow exceptions to accommodate some of the practices of the pigs.
Then one day, the animals notice a line of cars containing humans arriving at the farm for a meeting with the pigs. When they look through the window of the meeting place they see the pigs dressed in clothes, standing on two feet, and negotiating with the humans. Then suddenly, as they continued to peer through the window, they were unable to tell the difference between the pigs and the humans.
Orwell’s intention in Animal Farm is obvious. The Communist Revolution in the Soviet Union ended up like all other revolutions. The leaders of the revolution became a new class of oppressors and class oppression began all over again.
Anyone who has ever studied the Soviet system knows that the claim of equality was a sham. Members of the Communist Party lived much better than the average person and the leaders of the Party had the same kind of perks that leaders in other systems had.
Marx thought that if you eliminated private property that you could eliminate class distinction and thereby eliminate the class oppression that resulted from the unequal distribution of wealth. What he didn’t count on was human nature that, no matter how nice it sounds, really doesn’t want to be equal.
In the animal kingdom there is a natural instinct to establish a “ranking or pecking order.” For example, a group of chickens placed in a coop for the first time will begin pecking each other until they have established a “pecking order” ranking them from the most to the least dominant. Once established, all “perks” will be received according to the established order. Other animals do the same.
On the surface, it looks cruel but further investigation reveals that in the long term it prevents fighting. By fighting once and establishing an order it makes it unnecessary to fight all the time. If they were all equal, then every time something came up, there would be a free-for-all that, in the long term, would leave everybody in bad shape. Nature, contrary to popular opinion, does not value equality. That is an invention of the human mind.
To the extent that we share in similar instincts, we also naturally seek to establish rank and class. Therefore, any system that tries to eliminate it is flying in the face of human nature and is doomed to failure.
For example, following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the Communist leaders tried to eliminate all ranks in the army. That didn’t last very long when it was discovered that nothing could be done because everyone was equal and therefore refused to do anything that they didn’t like.
In similar manner, the Communist Chinese tried to emphasize everyone’s equality by having everyone wear a Mao jacket. Obviously, this left lobe attempt to establish total uniformity was doomed to failure because it would eliminate all variety from life.
Marx was wrong when he thought that “private property” was the only basis for class. Throughout history class has been establish on all types of variable. I used to say to my students that if every difference among human beings was eliminated except that some were left handed and others were right handed, class distinction would be established around that.
In truth, any difference can be used to establish “class distinction” and to eliminate it, you would have to eliminate all difference. Not only is this impossible but it would also be undesirable.
Then how are we to handle the problem of “class oppression”? Jesus, asked his Apostles whether He was their master. To which, they answered “Yes!” Then He got down on His knees and washed their feet saying, “The masters of the world lord it over those below them. But is shall not be that way with you. Anyone wishing to be a master must learn to serve those below them.”
Thus, Marx’s solution was to eliminate class. Jesus’ solution was to eliminate oppression. It appears that Jesus knew something that Marx didn’t. Maybe He understood the underlying principles of our nature because He created them and He realized that any solution had to work within those principles.
By now I hope that you are getting a better understanding of Communism and the Secular Humanistic vision that it represents. I also hope that you can see why so many well-intended people might be drawn to their solutions because, at times, is sounds so much like Christianity because often we agree on ends but disagree on means.
Because most people can’t seem to see the underlying distinctions between the two systems, the Church receives an undeserved reputation for being obstinate and unyielding in accommodating its teachings to modern attitudes.
Those who have been infected by the modern idea that the only valid decisions are those that are reached through a democratic process, are reflecting a cultural view that is inconsistent with the premises upon which the Church is built. The Church is not a democracy and was never meant to be one. Since it believes that it has been divinely commission by Christ to preserve and preach the Gospel, it refuses to turn that responsibility over to the modern concept of democratic decisions. It states the truth as it was handed down to it through the ages and refuses to modify it to accommodate popular opinion. On the other hand, today we see some of the major denominations who, under the pressure of popular opinion, have modified their position on major moral issues like homosexuality and abortion even though both are totally inconsistent with the scriptures and the historical traditions of Christianity. In a sense they are demonstrating that they are built of “shifting sands” while the Church is built on a rock.
Well, I see that my time is up. Here’s Dom.