25 June 2006
Happy Birthday, Mr. Orwell
He wrote about the Spanish Civil War, and fought on the side of the loyalists, fighting against Franco. But he also witnessed the Stalinist faction of the communist party that began to suppress the other leftist groups, arresting them and censoring newspapers and organizing armed militias. Orwell himself had to go into hiding in order to avoid arrest or even execution by the Stalinists.Try this at home: Substitute Little Green Footballs for Fascism and Daily Kos for Communism.
He eventually had to flee the country. The experience of the war changed his life. He came to believe that it wasn't Fascism or Communism that was evil, but simply idealism taken to any extreme. At a time when most intellectuals still supported Communism in Russia, Orwell became one of the first leftist writers to speak out against Stalin. He began to work on a political allegory about the Communist revolution that became Animal Farm, about a group of farm animals that overthrow their farmer, Mr. Jones. Because England and Russia were still allies at the end of World War II, he had trouble publishing the book, but when Animal Farm finally came out after the war, it made Orwell famous.