orwell.fascism1 - The Two Conservatisms of Fascism The...

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The Two Conservatisms of Fascism The threat of fascism prompted George Orwell's critique of socialism in The Road to Wigan Pier since he saw fascism growing at socialism's expense. Yet, what is fascism? Orwell viewed it primarily as a system of unequal collectivization of society's resources based on tyrannical oppression. However, Orwell identified a type of “good” conservatism in fascism that contrasts to the negative tyrannical type which he admired and felt was not only compatible with but necessary for socialism to adopt. This conservatism included an anti-progress mindset and a defense of certain European institutions such as the patriarchical family. The major limitation of this analysis of fascism is that it cannot explain how fascism developed out of socialism into this unequal collectivization and why Orwell's “good” conservatism attached itself to the tyranny of fascism. For Orwell, fascism was primarily an oppressive political system that he opposed. It was “an infamous tyranny” that involved methods of obtaining power that its own adherents generally did not prefer to attempt to justify (213). Fascism's oppressive nature was related to how it collectivized society's resources. Orwell argued that at some point industrialization necessitated a transition to a collective society, but it did not inherently follow that this would be the egalitarian collectivization of socialism (188). Fascism was the alternative of unequal collectivization of society. The economic system would be collectivized and the profit-seeking of capitalism removed, but “all political, military, and educational power” would remain in the control of a “small caste of rulers” while the majority of the populace remained powerless. Orwell identified this goal as a “slave-state” or, when applied across the planet as he feared was happening, a “slave-world”. Thanks to scientific progress the slaves may in fact be “well-fed and contented” but in the end they would still be slaves (215-6). Because fascism represented the collectivization of society under the control of a small elite Orwell was able to agree, “at bottom”, the Marxist N. A. Holdaway was correct in identifying fascism as “'the capitalist dictatorship. .. [assuming] another form. ..to survive'” (187).
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This note was uploaded on 07/06/2010 for the course PLSC PLSC 395 taught by Professor Mayer during the Spring '10 term at Loyola Chicago.

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orwell.fascism1 - The Two Conservatisms of Fascism The...

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