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September 18, 2007

Comments

Miles Palacios

I guess I could agree with everyone that education is the best way to achieve socialism. But honestly I cannot fathom a way in which it would be possible. As many people have already suggested, the middle class and upper class like the idea of bring the poor or working class out of their struggle, but not at the expense of themselves. I’m trying to have an open mind, but I can’t imagine my family having to give up what we have because there are a lot of poor people. Some people, like my father and mother, were in that class and worked very hard to get themselves up to where we are now. I really believe that it’s a dog eat dog world and people are willing to go only as far as to not jeopardize themselves. Orwell wrote about books and newspapers needing to appeal more to the working class, but in this day and age, most people know about the situations that the poor must go through. I really just look at the quality of life. The socialist nation of China, compared to the United States has some of the unhappiest of people, according to the happiness guide. I attribute it people not being able to achieve all that they think are capable of. I honestly think that the concept of everybody being equal iis fantastic, but realistically it will never happen.

Jelena Djukic

The main point, that Orwell brings up in his conclusion, is that the socialism should not be thrown aside but humanized. He claims that the socialism is “confined to the middle classes” and that even though middle classes want classless society they do not want to lose their benefits. They say, “Why must we level down? Why not level up?” This clearly shows the lack of understanding of the middle class population towards the lives of the poor population as well as their objection to give away their lifestyle for the greater good and abolishment of classes. I believe that this is why he suggests that the distinction between the classes can be diminished, by understanding how one class sees the other class. This would give them more understanding of their own lives as well as the lives led by those less fortunate. Therefore by having less of class hatred in the newspapers nowadays, as Orwell claims, there is less hatred among the classes. However this may be explained by the fact that nowadays most of the working class represents the target audience of many of the newspapers and writing badly about these classes would drive away their readers.
I disagree with those who said that he believes that the main point of his argument is simple abolishment of class distinction. I am pessimistic about this because I believe that even Orwell himself in a sense came to the conclusion that abolishment of the class distinction is not truly possible. He talks about his childhood, and hatred he felt for those who recently gained their wealth while he likes to associate himself with the nobles who are not as wealthy but are gentlemen. At the age of 17-18 he began to read socialist works and began to feel both as “a snob and revolutionary”, even though he did not even understand what the socialism was. Even though his views and understandings of the poor population change when he goes to India at the age of 20, he still claims that the class distinction does not disappear when you simply make friends with a tramp. I think this is the heart of his argument because the middle class people do feel for the conditions of the lower classes and do wish to help, but not for the cost of losing their lifestyle. I really agree with what Stephen wrote about this issue of unwillingness of the middle classes to true abolishment of the class distinction. And in my opinion this is crucial to understand why the class distinction is impossible and the socialism needs to be humanized.

Nicholas_DeGroot

George Orwell’s, The Road to Wigen Pier is a story that asks us what type of future we should have. Orwell identifies the radical implementation of ideology from the Left and the Right, namely Communism and Fascism, with each other. The alternative to a mechanized, enslaved, poverty-stricken, degenerate existence under either of the aforementioned systems would be a government of the working people called Socialism. I agree with Christine Wang, who points out that Orwell insists that we put aside the task of inter class assimilation for now in light of uniting in the common defense against tyranny and exploitation. Orwell does not lay out the specific terms of how such a socialist government would be operated (and he seams to dislike the majority of writers that he does consider Socialist) but he does do a good job explaining the injustices that result in Socialism’s absence. If Orwell’s dichotomous picture of the future is true (I wonder what he would imagine with the changes in history since) can we afford to hold the opinion of Ellen Dobie, that creating a new order for society to too far-fetched? Or should we all share the fate of Wigen pier, a legacy of nostalgia and ruin.

Alex Zaman

George Orwell’s piece eloquently describes the plight of the common working man in Part One, which he juxtaposes in Part Two with an analysis of why the ideas and practice of Socialism have not acted to improve these intolerable circumstances. The notions expressed are fairly contradictory, as he outlines his reasons why socialism can’t work even though he himself is a true believer of the philosophy. The inherent dilemma in this case is that most proponents of socialism know why it doesn’t work in the present conditions of society, that it would work very well if an appropriate remedy were devised, but have no clue how to formulate one. Part of this reason, as previous posters have noted, is the prevalence of deep-seated notions such as class distinctions and prejudice. To top it off, middle-class socialist proponents loathe the very nature and idiosyncrasies of the working class- the group whose plight would be improved most through socialism. It is nearly impossible to escape the distinctions that exist between classes. But something that could link all social classes in a way that each class could be affected the same way by a certain policy, is an ideal first step in the progress of socialism. As Norris suggested, a system in which the provision of health care is socialized would appeal to all classes while proving beneficial to everyone. I agree that the proposal of education is the right way to go- but how? Surely more propaganda and formal education regarding the benefits of socialism is necessary- however I think the only way that socialism has a chance to evolve is through the realization that capitalism is the channel by which everyone will be able to benefit (similar to what Ellen said). Educating the masses is the best and most likely solution to socialism, but the content and extent to which it is taught will decide whether capitalism in its current, inequality-producing form will continue, or if socialism can exist as a movement that will produce equality and change the collective mindset of the classes once everyone has been educated. However, the latter in its current sate is improbable since the classes have different aspirations in life (as Stephen wrote, the lower class only concerns itself with subsistence, while the upper classes have higher goals).

Salman Ahmed

As said many times earlier, George Orwell’s book The Road to Wigan Pier is an account of the living conditions in industrial England in the time before WWII. The dilemma that he is in is that he feels that the established order of capitalism is one which cannot be allowed to continue and that socialism must be implemented to take its place. However, he feels that the existing forms of socialism are ineffective and are not representative of what socialism was intended to be. As was stated earlier by many of my distinguished colleagues, the implementation of socialism would require the mitigation of classes in society. This would have to take place not only at an economic level but a psychological level. This would require the complete transformation of mindsets. As everyone agrees, this is not feasible in a society such as England was at the time. The Victorian era had done much in the way of removing the original rigid social structure of pre-industrial England; however, this just led to a shift in class distinctions by separating people into the owners of the means of production, and the poor working class.
Socialism, was an ideal created by enlightened members of the bourgeoisie class. Only the people who had the time and education to think about things such as political and social structure and plight of the common man in the capitalist system debated these ideals. Members of the poor working class rarely had the time or energy to spend on conceiving ways in which to change the established order. Therefore it effectively became simply an ideal for intellectuals to discuss over their “Starbucks lattes” as said earlier. It never garnered the grassroots support which was needed in order to truly spark change.
What this brings me to is the most obvious possibility for change which would be education. As stated by many earlier, it is essential to educate the working class of the injustices which are being done to them. In order to galvanize support for a massive social change, socialism must become the ideal of the working class and not just a topic for debate amongst the well off intellectuals.

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