Is George Orwell's 1984 anti leftist/anti rightist/ or both?

  • Anti Leftist
  • Anti Rightist
  • Both
  • Neither
  • You havent defined the right or the left

0 voters

It’s anti-authoritarian. Right wing authoritarian, left wing authoritarian, it doesn’t matter. It’s against governments that act like the government in the book, regardless of their stated philosophy. Orwell understood that no matter what authoritarians claim to be for or against, the only thing they really care about is power.

In fact, the novel explicitly makes the point that the ideology of Oceania and the competing megastates don’t matter in the slightest. The entire country of Oceania makes a pivot from being at war with Eastasia to Eurasia in the middle of Hate Week and doesn’t miss a beat (and of course Winston Smith recalls previously being at war with Eurasia even though it is erased from official history). His major concern, being an ‘editor’ for the Ministry of Information, is all of the work it is going to take to rewrite history books, newspaper archives, et cetera.


As already said, anti-authoritarian. Influenced by both by the hardline socialism and communism of the USSR and the fascism of Nazi Germany. Both it (and Animal Farm) are cautionary tales against any form of authoritarianism and the corrupting influences of totalitarian regimes.

Animal Farm is the same. People think it’s a commentary on the Communist Revolution, when it’s really a commentary on revolution in general. There’s always a Napolean and he always wins because he has no scruples, no limits. The ideaology is a fig leaf.

I can’t agree, as I don’t see there being a such thing as left wing authoritarianism. There is pseudoleft authoritarianism, where the person spouts leftist views but then actually wants there to be a ruling class (Stalin being the biggest example), but it’s not left wing authoritarianism. He was still essentially a king/monarch/dictator with absolute power. And that is right wing.

I actually don’t really understand the definition of leftism that includes authoritarianism as a possibility. Sure, there is a left wing philosophy of having a larger government, but that is about countering the power of the rich and ruling classes. It’s not left wing if the government then becomes the rich and ruling class.

Anyways, what I remember from the book seems to be a lot of things that tend to be associated with the right wing. It’s not Animal Farm, where the Pigs pretend to be left wing but aren’t.

@MandaJo I can’t agree with that, either, as the author would then have to deal with the US founding, where that is not what happened.

Why? A theme doesn’t have to be all inclusive. Its not a dissertation, its a narrative exploration of certain aspects of human nature and society.

So, leftists are Scotsmen?

Yes, this is typically the line we hear from communist apologists but isn’t the dictatorship of the proletariat all part of the process? It’s just that for some reason communist can never get out of that dictatorship phase.

Orwell wrote against a left wing authoritarian system. Others will and have written against right wing authoritarian systems.

That argument can be made for Animal Farm, but it cannot for 1984. The idea that authoritarianism is without ideology isn’t just implied in 1984, it’s said pretty much straight up on multiple occasions.

It’s also extremely plainly evident if one reads everything else Orwell wrote. He was, after all, a socialist.

You are correct. I withdraw my comment insofar as it applies to 1984 because Orwell strictly kept the political motivations of the Party out of the novel, although I think the issue is that everyone just assumed “Soviet Union” when they read it, so that’s why it gets tagged as a novel against left wing authoritarianism.

But he was anti-authoritarian. I can be a conservative Christian, but not want society to be the Handmaid’s Tale and criticize people that think much like I do about going too far with stuff.

@NotaDuck, I don’t think there’s any rule against it, but do you ever post anything that’s not a poll?

One can be oppressed in a left-wing society where there is “no such thing” as a dictator, but that is not what 1984 was about, as has been explained. It may be what The Dispossessed was getting at.

Oh, really?

As I recall, 1984 was about a brutal authoritarian government without particular ideology, but Animal Farm clearly referenced people’s revolutionary movements degenerating into oppression as bad as what they were intended to abolish.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Of course there is, the examples are countless. You might want to say that you no longer recognise such societies as left wing in a way that you understand it but there is no confusion about the path that took them there.

Pretty much any ideology taken to extreme is likely to become authoritarian and totalitarian. How can it not? The extremism is hard to maintain without it and history shows us that the political left has not been shy in pushing to those extremes.

It was exactly that shift towards the political extremes by his leftist colleagues that Orwell was concerned by and certainly its manifestation in places like communist Russia was incorporated as a theme in 1984 along with his hatred of the Nazi state.

That’s a rather odd take. The Soviet Union, insofar as it exists in 1984, is Eurasia. Oceania is the West.

I’ve long had a ‘circular’ theory of left/right politics. Picture an analog clock face. The left side represents left-wing politics, the right, right-wing. The bottom, at the six, represents complete anarchy, the top, at the 12, represents absolute totatitarian rule. The closer you get to the bottom or the top the less ideology matters. Stalin was maybe at 11, Hitler at 1. In 1984, the state was at 12.

To expand on what @Jackmannii posted, there is such a thing as left wing authoritarianism (at least if one considers left/right to be an economic spectrum within the political compass). The trouble is that when it comes to anti-authoritarian leftwing ideology, there is a branding/image problem, at least in the US. Right wing anti-authoritarians in the US have largely staked out the libertarian label for themselves (even if the logical consequence of their ideology, if adopted widely, would be the end of liberty, giving way instead to increasingly powerful, but nominally nongovernmental economic interests), leaving leftist anti-authoritarians with the much maligned and misunderstood “anarchist” label.

Are you sure it wasn’t at 13 on the clock? :wink: