Thursday, 15 September 2016

Two opposing literary critiques of socialism

You can be forgiven for thinking that most authors of novels are supports of some form or another of socialism. But not all authors are mindlessly pro-socialism/anti-capitalism, a few have offered literary criticisms of socialism.

The most famous may be Orwell's famous books, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four which criticised the totalitarian forms of socialism. But he is not the only one.

A new working paper looks at the critiques of socialism offered by George Orwell, Eugen Richter and Henry Hazlitt. The abstract of the paper, Two Opposing Literary Critiques of Socialism: George Orwell Versus Eugen Richter and Henry Hazlitt by Michael Makovi, reads:
Orwell's famous fictions, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four criticized totalitarian forms of socialism from a Public Choice perspective, assuming that socialism would work as an economic system as long as the proper political institutions were in place to curb the potential for the abuse of power. This is contrasted with two novels by others who took the opposite approach: Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future and Hazlitt's Time Will Run Back. These two assumed that the political implementation of socialism would be perfect but that socialism would necessarily turn totalitarian because of the problem of economic calculation. These novels assumed away the Public Choice problem of institutions and the abuse of power and focused on the political implications of socialism as a purely economic system. Contrasting these two sets of novels shows how the Austrian and Public Choice schools criticize socialism in two entirely different ways.

1 comment:

Mark Hubbard said...

Here's the interesting question though Paul, from someone who's figuring out how rigged the manuscript querying system is in supporting the modern 'show don't tell', 'don't preach', subjectivist aesthetic: would Animal Farm, 1984, or any of the books in this paper make it past first base in the current fiction publishing channel?

I doubt the authors would even find an agent to represent them.