I delighted in reading both Animal Farm and 1984 a few years ago, and I can definitely agree with their status as timeless classics. Numerous criticisms can, however, be made of the Orwellian worldview reflected in these books, but the error that struck me most was Orwell’s limited conception of liberty in exclusively the negative sense. Orwell, like Enlightenment and libertarian thinkers, saw liberty – the central theme of his magnum opus – as the lack of external restrictions on possible human choices; i.e. freedom is defined by the least number of actions forbidden to humans. This negative conception of liberty’s shortcoming fails to take into account the decisive impact of bondages, addictions, and spiritual slavery on human life. Contrast this with the traditionalist, positive conception of liberty: liberty as the ability to act according to one’s will and for the benefit of oneself and others. This is the true liberty of God’s Law, and the liberty Christ brings us (John 8:36).
Orwell’s liberal thinking particularly shines through in an essay he wrote immediately following WWII, entitled “Notes on Nationalism,” intended as an apologetic against nationalism. This essay’s main rhetorical strategy is to equate and draw parallels …
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