Martin Harvey

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

Disputes Review of Animal Farm

(21 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 42, 21 October 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Editor:

I would like to take issue with some of the implications in Henry Judd’s review of the new book, Animal Farm, in the September 20 Labor Action.

It seems to me that Comrade Judd is much too mild in his criticism of George Orwell’s book. He says that he is “at a loss as to precisely how the whole thing is meant.” I think the book is pretty clear on that. It is a vicious distortion of the course of the Russian Revolution and the antagonism between Bolshevism and Stalinism.

First there is the complete identity between Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin). Not only is there no indication of Trotsky’s activities after his exile – which Judd indicates – but the original sign of degeneration of the revolution (the disappearance of the milk) is presented under the sponsorship of Trotsky. The disagreement between Trotsky and Stalin is given no reasonable basis whatever, unless Stalin’s jealousy of Trotsky’s brilliance can be called a reasonable basis. And why the name Snowball for Trotsky? Doesn’t the name itself indicate a distortion of Trotsky’s role in history?

As important as is Orwell’s distortion of Bolshevism, his contempt for the oppressed masses is equally reprehensible. And this contempt is in no way concealed. Except for the ruling pigs, none of the animals could learn to read. The only exception to this, Benjamin the donkey, sharpens the contempt, for Benjamin, the only intelligent animal besides the pigs, is a cynic who refuses to concern himself with politics. What is the obvious conclusion? The masses are too stupid to protect themselves from bureaucrats and oppressors. Intelligent people (intellectuals) will have nothing to do with politics and the class struggle – that is for the stupid.

This fits in perfectly with Orwell’s middle class radicalism and is typical of his kind. The middle class radical, who cannot understand class struggle or the nature of the revolution, lays the blame for defeats and setbacks on the proletariat – whom they understand least of all. Orwell in England, Macdonald in the United States, with no understanding of Marxist science, with no confidence in the working class, substitute meaningless morals for working class action and anarchism for Marxism.

The Orwells have to be exposed for what they are – confusionists and defeatists.

Martin Harvey

Last updated on 16 July 2019