"A Coming Political Revolution," a "Champion" of the People, and "a Future to Believe in"? Be careful what you wish for
Industrial Age America's unprecedented economic revolution is fast fading under a new revolution—that of global socialism. Then again, it's not so new. On 17 August 1945, an English writer Eric Arthur Blair, commonly known as George Orwell, published Animal Farm whereupon he painted a utopian vision inspired by German economist Karl Marx. An allegory about life in the Soviet Union, Orwell's narration tells the story of disgruntled Manor Farm animals owned by the Jones and mobilized by a pig called Old Major, whose dream of a future world featured freedom and equality for all.
There's no mistaking it. It's a big idea: restructuring into a new order, or paradigm, whereby animals are drawn together in common cause as one animal family, one farm community with a common destiny founded on universal rights, justice, and a culture of peace. Can someone shout, "Amen!"?
Broadly bantered about today, the word "socialism" remains ever elusive. To quote Hillary Clinton, "Part of diplomacy is to open different definitions of self-interest." To that end, Old Major would agree, "It's necessary to take things away for the common good." Whereas increasing numbers of Americans outwardly embrace the ideology, others scoff at the notion that U.S. policies under progressive policies smack of raw socialism.
Alexis de Tocqueville explained that democracy and socialism have one word in common—equality. Whereas democracies seek equality in liberty, socialism seeks it in level-the-field restraint and servitude. Arguably, Orwell's farm allegory speaks of the latter every bit as directly to America's political landscape today as it did to the Soviet Union of Orwell's day.
Culture of Victimization
Visionary pig Old Major narrowed the root of all the animals' problems—namely, greedy humans who alone bear blame for meager rations and paltry stalls. Whereas toiling animals are producers, the businessman, investor, administrator, and/or owner are but parasites that siphon off the system by oppressing workers. Major's charge was to wage a moral and political war of sorts against policies of greed enacted, in today's terms, by billionaires and corporate leaders on Wall Street. Toward ensuring dignity in an egalitarian super-status for the mass proletariat, Major advanced Animalism, distinguished by unity in thought and reflected in the collective.
Culture of Entitlement
Without listening to a word of what Major was saying, the cat purred contentedly throughout the rousing speech. It was noticed that, when work was to be done, the cat couldn't be found—not until mealtime, that is. In Orwell's world, whether weak or strong, clever or simple, all farm animals were brothers. Despite voting both sides of an issue, the well-fed cat convinced fellows of his good intentions by purring affectionately for the milk and cream due him.
To protect the simpleminded from being led astray by pesky facts, strong, clever community organizers arose among the farm animals. The hard work of leadership fell naturally upon the cleverest of animals, the pigs. Comrade Pig Napoleon (aka Protector of the Sheep Fold) rallied animals for a better future on the heels of change they could believe in. Toward fundamental change, hope, and transformation, animals united with one voice, together chanting, "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!"
Culture of Intimidation
The "have-nots" became cannon fodder in what, over time, appeared to be a damaging collectivist experiment, but no worries. A self-appointed cadre of experts determined what was real, right, and true; then, codified principles of self-rule into non-negotiable, science-by-consensus precepts. Had they found the right arguments, several comrades might have protested. But then, why bother? Unfashionable opinions were seldom given fair hearings.
"Settled science" was settled, no questions asked, and "animal lives matter." Period. Each comrade increasingly surrendered personal freedom of thought and speech for some inexplicit construct heralding the common good. Any vague sense of uneasiness was smoothed over by spontaneous, swelling chants—i.e., "Animal lives matter!" "Main Street, not Wall Street!" "Yes, we can!"
Culture of Nepotism
Once human masters were overcome, leaders of the revolution changed so drastically that they amended foundational commandments to make life easier, not for all animals, but for the executive family of pigs whose elevated service justified protecting their self-interest. Were they not, after all, superior? Before very long the key commandment—namely, "all animals are equal"—was adjusted to, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."
By redistributing farm resources, pigs concentrated wealth and, therefore, power into their own hands. It became apparent that the farm had grown wealthier without making the animals other than pigs and dogs any richer. In providing milk and apples for themselves, pigs defended need for that privilege: Brainwork on behalf of comrades warranted enriched nutrition.
In joining the revolution, the farm animals' expectation had been a society set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak. In the race to obliterate power-without-controls over the human-centric farming enterprise, animals failed to understand that their efforts were destined to become steppingstones for bureaucratic burdens and regulations, coupled with invasion of privacy and wealth confiscation. Bravely, Snowball (himself a pig) refused to compromise animal equality for the sake of self-interest and greed. When Snowball courageously stood for sacrificial principles of Animalism, Napoleon criminalized and, then, eliminated him—for the common good, of course.
Culture of Liberal Monism
There was no part of the farm irrelevant to the collective anymore. Fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, thus discouraging comrades from speaking their minds. Some clever animals secretly mused that this was not what they had hoped and toiled for, but none harbored thoughts of rebellion or disobedience in that skilled thought police discerned even a hint of rebellion through a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice, or an occasional whispered word.
Working-class horses, Boxer and Clover, suspected something funny was going on with the pigs, but naïve trust in Napoleon's good intentions blinded them to ways they were being exploited. As sheep blindly followed, so did they. Each committed to accept the leadership of President Napoleon and to remain faithful, work hard, and carry out orders. Compliant comrades rationalized that they were far better off than they had been in the previous administration. "We shall overcome" became the state-approved message of their collective march.
Downside of Championing the Coming Political Revolution
At long last, while huddling together, amazed and terrified, the animals observed a world turned upside-down at the hands of their cleverest of comrades, now majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side-to-side. With authentic equality traded in for an elitist ruling class, demanding of the masses harder labors and worse pay, the utopian dream had, for them, morphed into a nightmare. Just at that moment comrades might have uttered some word of protest, familiar chants commenced and escalated for five full minutes without stopping. By the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed; and the Pig-in-Chief had marched commandingly into his big, white house.
Creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but it was impossible to say which was which. The oppressed and the oppressor were one and the same. Alas, to make a long story short, the masses turned against each other and inevitably forfeited the better future for which they once fought collectively.
Moral of the Story
There emerges always an "Old Major" whose dreams and vision ultimately fashion an elitist leader to be obeyed, even feared. As Old Major, Bernie Sanders champions "A Coming Political Revolution"; and, in tandem, Hillary Napoleon Clinton barks, "Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion."
Especially in an election year rife with stirring campaign slogans, we best remember that, when righteous leaders are in authority, the people rejoice; otherwise, they mourn. In 1832, Noah Webster published his history of the United States in which he warned, if citizens neglect their duty by allowing unprincipled rulers, public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men and women; and the rights of citizens will be violated or disregarded. "If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness," Webster added, it must be because its citizens have neglected the divine commands. Moreover, they've failed to apply the plumb line of truth.
The moral of our story (and Orwell's) is simple: Be careful what you wish for.
Debra Rae is a regular contributor to The Intellectual Conservative and this publication. © 2016