Orwell wrote only an introduction to the foreign translation of Animal Farm. It was for Ukraine

A Ukrainian demonstrator protests in London, England, against the recent invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

Eric Blair, George Orwell, was not a perfect man, but then who is he? Nevertheless, Orwell was right about three major issues of the 20th century: anti-imperialist, anti-fascist, and anti-communist / anti-Stalinist.

Orwell’s military days in Burma taught him the human horror of the British Empire: “I have already decided that imperialism is an evil thing,” Orwell reflected in his essay on Elephant Shooting. “I have always been for the Burmese and against their oppressors, the British.”

His essays against fascism and the British Tories, which offer apologetics for the fascism of the 1930s, should be a must-read in addition to his works of classical fiction, 1984 and Animal farm.

In these essays, he did not treat fascism as a special province of the Germans or Nazism; rather, he argued that people should seek the “fascist line” within themselves and in their own society. He warned against the misconception that modern reason would inevitably overcome the absurdity and irrationality of fascism. He disassembled the fascination of fascists that these authoritarian, mass murderous aggressors somehow successfully portrayed themselves in front of many of their people as victims, even martyrs, sorry and loved, but also fearful and terrifying.

The Democratic Socialist Orwell was shot in the throat by a sniper in 1937 as he fought against the military overthrow of the Spanish Republic by the fascist Francisco Franco. However, the Communist and Stalinist pro-sympathy of many of his comrades-in-arms disagreed. Under the banner of communism, he saw beyond Stalin’s propaganda of temptation toward totalitarianism. He also fought against it and wrote his basic literary works specifically to combat it.

Animal farm it means the denial of both the plutocratic capitalists and imperialists (the people) and the Bolsheviks (the pigs) who would take turns exploiting the daily working people (the other animals) for their own authoritarian purposes. Orwell’s allegory was an immediate success, and has remained so ever since, supported by as diverse groups as possible in their political ideology, from left-wing anarchists to the John Birch Society.

After its release in 1945 Animal farm it has been widely translated to be published in many languages ​​and nations of the world.

However, Orwell wrote only one specific introduction to the international translation of this masterpiece: The Ukrainian.

In the introduction to the essay, Orwell explained his political evolution, saying that he would have considered himself a socialist only until the early 1930s, when he lived in poverty in Paris and London “for months between the poor and semi-criminal elements. the worst parts of the poorer neighborhoods.

“I became a socialist out of the oppressed and neglected disgust of the poorer strata of industrial workers than out of the theoretical admiration of the planned society,” he wrote.

When he started fighting in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell said, “Through many accidents, I did not join the International Brigade, like most foreigners, but the POUM militia – that is, the Spanish Trotskyists. Thus, in mid-1937, when the Communists gained control (or partial control) over the Spanish government and began to hunt down the Trotskyists, we found ourselves among the victims. We were very fortunate to have left Spain alive and not even been arrested once. Many of our friends have been shot and others have spent a long time in prison or simply disappeared. ”

These communist hunts by the Communists in Spain coincided with the great cleansing of the Soviet Union, and they were a kind of addition, he wrote.

“Each of his experiences was a valuable lesson: he taught me how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinions of enlightened people in democratic countries. …

“My wife and I have both seen innocent people imprisoned simply because they were suspected of being unorthodox. Yet, when we returned to England, we found a number of sensible and well-informed observers who believed the most fantastic accounts of conspiracy, betrayal and sabotage reported by the press during the Moscow lawsuits.

“The most important thing for me was for the people of Western Europe to see the Soviet regime as it really is,” he wrote.

Pointing to England, however, Orwell quickly noted that even in capitalist countries, class differences are great, and wealth differences lead to the exploitation of workers.

“Until 1939, and even later, the majority of Englishmen were unable to assess the true nature of the Nazi regime in Germany, and now, alongside the Soviet regime, they are still largely in the same illusion.

“This has done great damage to the socialist movement in England and has had serious consequences for English foreign policy. In fact, in my opinion, nothing has contributed as much to the deterioration of the original idea of ​​socialism as the belief that Russia is a socialist country and that all the actions of its rulers must be saved, if not imitated.

“And so for the past ten years, I have been convinced that the dismantling of the Soviet myth is essential if we want a revival of the socialist movement.”

So now we’ll see why Orwell got in Animal farm he attacked the authoritarianism of propagandist capitalism and communism at the same time. He sought to “explore the Soviet myth in a story that almost anyone could easily understand and translate into other languages,” and fought against the exploitation of workers to awaken a real political movement in their interest.

Let us not fall under the spell of authoritarian false prophets who propagate propaganda under the auspices of working popular populism, Orwell warns, be they imperialists, plutocratic capitalists, fascists or communists.

As authoritarianism and propaganda are now prevalent not only in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also in America’s own domestic politics, George Orwell is the only introduction to an international translation. Animal farmin Ukrainian, it is a stark reminder of how extremely important it is to always resist both of them violently and what is at stake.

David DeWitt is the editor of the Ohio Capital Journal, which first published this essay.

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