Nicaragua – a Mirror of Orwell’s Animal Farm?

July 17, 2017 |

The lesson from “Animal Farm”, by George Orwell, is spot-on for neoliberal Nicaragua of recent years.

By Oscar Rene Vargas  (Confidencial)

From Animal Farm by George Orwell

HAVANA TIMES — In 1943, the British writer George Orwell (1903-1950) wrote his famous novel “Animal Farm”. This satirical allegory synthesized the transformation process of the initially inspiring Russian Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky into Soviet totalitarianism embodied in Stalin.

A man of the Left, George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Republicans – to be more exact, on the side of the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification, which was opposed to Stalinist communists, as their idea was to liberate people. According to him, this was inseparable from a basic demand: the people’s real democratic freedom and socialism.

From this perspective, the events that unfolded during the Spanish civil war and, particularly, the killings in Barcelona, filled him with absolute horror of those in favor of authoritarian methods. Returning to England, he published his testimony in some newspapers and also enshrined his conclusions in his two most famous books, “Animal farm” and a few years later “1984”.

Orwell invents a prophetic fiction in his books, which he uses to develop a great description, inspired greatly by Stalinist or authoritarian regimes, about what could happen to the human race in a dictatorship. “1984” is the book where terms such as “Big Brother”, “Thought Police” (Thinkpol) and “Newspeak” appear for the first time.

Orwell tells us that an authoritarian regime creates a power machine which is the “Ministry of Truth” or the only official spokesperson, which is essential to consolidate that regime (it simply records events or criticizes journalism for trying to explain events). Then, the “Thought Police” is organized (making critical thinking dangerous) and “Newspeak” is created to impose a universal truth on everyone. In order to do this, it’s necessary to pare language down to a few words which are enough to establish past, present and future events.

If real historic events aren’t in line with the only official Truth’s dogma that they want to disseminate, all they have to do is deny this reality and invent new “alternative facts and fake news”, so as to impose the authoritarian or dictatorial State’s institutional lie as “real and true events”. The “Ministry of Truth’s” aim is to make citizens degrade their trust for “real events” and to accept these “alternative facts and fake news”.

Cover of the 1st edition of Animal Farm.

Many people get angry because they feel they are being mocked, undervalued for their intelligence; others laugh and jokingly celebrate the “Ministry of Truth’s” vulgar remarks. But, there are some people who see beyond the farce and discover the threads of political manipulation, the hidden intention to distract people, diverting people as much as they can from their valid and daily worries.

It has to be made clear that the Ministry of Truth’s goal is to maintain control over the electorate so that they don’t hear about news that is counterproductive for the government; that’s why they manipulate the reality of what is really happening and censor critical voices.

Going beyond the historical particularism which inspired the book, “Animal farm” has become a metaphor for the universal perversions that the practice of authoritarian, corrupt and anti-democratic power creates, when rulers from a minority promote themselves as the saviors of the governed when in reality they’re their executioners.

The so-called “second phase of the Nicaraguan revolution” is made up of a political bloc founded on secret negotiations, individual interests among the old oligarchy and the newer ruling classes,  where the “people” are called upon to rule a country which has been co-opted by a political elite which is smaller in number, more exclusive and more selective every day.

Parochial mindsets have monumental breakthroughs from time to time and cover themselves in a veil of rural messianism which, the victims of wishful thinking, confuse greatness with mere spectacle. Parochial discourse succumbs to the eagerness for greatness and blinded by the temporary shimmer of hope, it combines tragedy with comedy.

Unrestrained capitalism inevitably brings about the widening of gaps between the wealthy and the poor. This isn’t a distortion or an economic fault in this system, but is rather one of the inevitable trends of capital accumulation in its historical path.

The lesson of this story for neoliberal Nicaragua in recent years is spot-on. During this time, we have experienced the most scandalous robberies in our history, inexplicable and uncontrollable enrichment of a few, the most perverse cons and the greatest generational disappointment with the moral defeat of the Sandinista revolution and the failure of the so-called democratic transition process.

Oscar Rene Vargas. Photo: Roberto Fletes / laprensa.com.ni

As wealth continues to accumulate and productive working forces develop, two extreme poles are being established. At one pole, that of the owners of capital, wealth is accumulated; while at the working class pole which produces this wealth with their work, there is increasing poverty, poor working conditions, wage slavery, despotism, ignorance and deterioration.

In order to achieve the perfect and joyous state of civic submission, Stalin (or the dictator of the hour) and his clique of stalwarts took advantage of five powerful tools: betrayal, repression, corruption, propaganda and the short-term memory of “those below”. Authoritarian power doesn’t have a steadfast nucleus of advisers; they are always walking on a tightrope.

We have also seen the rise of an elite regime founded on corruption and immunity deals which have thrown out the window the distinction between organized crime by members of the hegemonic sector, and members of the public sector of different governments. This has thereby reduced society’s ability to react as it becomes accustomed to humiliation and it continues to accept, bit by bit, the system of a never-ending government.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    “there is increasing poverty, poor working conditions, wage slavery, despotism, ignorance and deterioration.”
    So this is what Diaz-Canel, Maduro et al have gone to celebrate in Nicaragua – “the system of a never-ending government.”