I just finished George Orwell’s Animal Farm and was struck by the story of how power corrupts, even when it originates out of a beautiful revolution (the case of Cuba is a perfect example… a glorious revolution to free the people of tyranny turns tyranical when Fidel becomes poisoned by his own power).
I also appreciated the fact that Orwell was a socialist. (see the Wikipedia article about him for more on his politics) I knew his book was very anti-Stalinist but I had a hunch that Orwell himself was still very much a Socialist, and I was glad to find out that my hunch was correct. I guess this is significant to me, because a Socialistic criticism of Stalinistic totalitarianism is far more likely to be accurate and helpful than one authored by a capitalist.
Finally I was struck by the simple and forthright style of Orwell’s writing. I also enjoyed (well enjoyed might not be quite the right word) 1984, but Animal Farm to me is on a whole other level of quality. It reminds me of the Bible in that regard, even a kid can understand the story, but a learned professor could spend years delving in deeper.
As for a modern-day application, Soviet-style governance is not exactly hip today (except in North Korea), but the widespread use of propagnda and absolute double-speak and lies is still the rule of the day. The USA is not on the level of Stalin’s Soviet Union, but we are rapidly moving in that direction, and that is why truth is needed now more than ever.
But I also would argue that we need vision. In Animal Farm (spoiler ahead), the vision of an egalitarian society of animals articulated by Old Major was a beautiful one, and good one, and the failure of the Animal Farm to live up to those beautiful ideals does not negate the truth and goodness of those ideas. In the same way, I do think we should continue to speak against greed and capitalism in our era, even if the alternative is difficult to achieve. Sharing is tough but it is possible. I really don’t read Orwell as saying that the answer is to give up Socialism but rather to escew the power dynamics of bosses. (or to say it another way, more the visision of IWW than the USSR).