Orwell was a socialist
I’ve gotten into more than my fair share of internet debates. I have strong opinions about everything from superior voting systems (instant-runoff voting) to the right level of "doneness" for steaks (medium rare but on the rarer side; this is a hill I will die on). This means that I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life re-typing the same arguments into Facebook comment sections.
And one particular argument that I consistently find myself getting sucked into is when someone posts a George Orwell quote to support an argument that Orwell himself would have strongly disagreed with. In particular, people often use quotes from his two most famous works—Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four—to argue against allegedly socialist policies, such as universal healthcare or free college education. This is more than a little bit ironic, considering that Orwell himself proudly identified himself as a socialist.
“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”
— George Orwell
Many people are familiar with Orwell’s allegorical Animal Farm and dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four, but few realize that the author was actually a devoted socialist. He fought alongside anarchists during the Spanish Civil War (first against the fascists and Francoists and then against the Soviet-backed Communists). While the idea that a self-proclaimed democratic socialist would first fight and then write against the Soviet regime might seem foreign to those with a narrow view of leftist ideology and ignorance of the Spanish Civil War, in reality there is a stark difference between the leftist policies Orwell advocated for and the authoritarian regime that ruled Eastern Europe.
Orwell actively identified as a democratic socialist, writing in an essay: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 [Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were written in 1945 and 1949 respectively] has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for Democratic…