WW2 and Social Democracy 1940-1955 Pamphleteering Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1968 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Literature

Social Democracy

Pamphleteering has a long history in England and became a means of expression against government policies in the New World as well. As the mass media developed, the practice of pamphleteering expanded as well as various writers produced not only pamphlets and broadsides but longer essays, books, and other printed material to promote their causes. One of the causes that attracted a good deal of attention was the promotion of social democracy or socialism beginning at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, notably led by H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, H.M. Hyndman, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb. The tensions of World War II would revive many of these writings and caused many others to take up the cause once more in England, seeing an opportunity to counter the fascism of the enemy with support for a more equitable social structure and a government to match. Propaganda to this effect was produced in various forms to further this utopian vision, though the effect of such propaganda was not as powerful in bringing about change as the war itself.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on WW2 and Social Democracy 1940-1955 Pamphleteering Assignment

One of those leading the charge was George Orwell, who produced many essays, books, and other writings in furtherance of the socialist ideal he saw as necessary to make Britain the sort of society he and other socialists saw as equitable and fair to all citizens. The earlier development of social democracy as a solution to an unresponsive government came in the nineteenth century with the development of industrialization, which challenged laissez-faire liberalism as it produced new social classes and economic relations. The new working classes developed their own sense of common interest and called for political and social democracy on a new scale. On the one hand, there were calls for a form of Social Darwinism, meaning that society should not be controlled and that survival of the fittest should rule. On the other hand, there were those like Adam Smith who found some problems with the market economy -- Smith suggested government intervention to control monopolies and stated that not all needs could be provided for by the marketplace (Noble, Strauss, Osheim, Neuschel, Cohen, & Roberts 1994, p. 875).

Workers organized for collective action in the face of various cultural forces that brought about a sense of solidarity among workers. Economic institutions developed that treated the workers as a collective. The department store was directed at a large population of working class citizens and brought together a variety of services and goods under one roof. Businesses banded together as cartels for economic power, and trade unions were following the same route by bringing workers together to achieve a power as a group they could not achieve individually. Specific groups in society banded together for social justice and democracy, as the suffrage movements did around the issue of women's voting rights.

The creation of unequal levels of wealth and the development of urban problems in the new cities created along with industrialization led to new economic and political initiatives to correct perceived problems:

Increasingly, states, municipalities, volunteer groups, and churches accepted responsibility for the well-being of their peoples (Noble, Strauss, Osheim, Neuschel, Cohen, & Roberts 1994, p. 940).

Green (1995) indicated that the laissez-faire economics then prevalent enabled the powerful to exploit the weak, and he called for the liberal state to promote the common good (Green 1995, pp. 172-174).

The two World Wars and the Great Depression challenged liberal thought by creating more and more perceived need for government control and government intervention, such as was seen in the New Deal in response to the Great Depression. Hayek (1995) states the continuing individualist position and finds that it does not exclude the recognition of social ends, defined as "merely identical ends of many individuals" (Hayek 1995, p. 125). Schumpeter (1995) points to the relationship between the individual and democracy, finding that freedom is a matter of degree (Schumpeter 1995, p. 128).

The life and work of George Orwell charts the rise and fall of the power of social democracy in England. Orwell spent time in British colonies. Orwell returned to England in the twenties and found a country still dedicated to its traditions, a country largely turned inward to maintain its traditions. The truth was that England largely ignored the rest of Europe until the events of 1936, being concerned instead with domestic or colonial affairs. Orwell as well was drawn by the events of 1936 and would become both more concerned about the rise of totalitarianism and more dedicated as a writer to exploring issues of international import. The 1930s was the period of Orwell's political education. During this era, communism, fascism, and Nazism, while different, shared certain characteristics. All were dramatic responses to the massive economic turmoil and human suffering connected to the end of World War I. The new ideologies offered quick and forceful action, often unhampered by constitutional or legal niceties:

Mass movements whose leaders intended to establish a strong central government exercising an iron control over just about every aspect of social and certainly political life, these new systems of rule were avowed enemies of liberalism, with its advocacy of limited government, freedom for the individual, and other values associated with the historical development of bourgeois civilization (Smyer 1988, pp. 3-4).

Orwell reacted to these forces in his fiction with the satiric beast fable of Animal Farm and the dystopian novel 1984.

Politically, Orwell tended toward Socialism during the 1930s and recorded in his book The Road to Wigan Pier the effects of unemployment on the people. He went to Spain in 1936 and observed the fight for democracy taking place against the totalitarians, and he decided he had to fight in that war himself. He then found that there were totalitarians on both sides and little chance of democracy emerging, and he eventually had to flee Spain to avoid being imprisoned by the Stalinist Communists on his own side:

He had been fighting among volunteers who wanted to win, and Russia had decided not to give them a chance of doing so. That experience, described in Homage to Catalonia, was the turning point in his life. Previously he had been a young writer, playing at living. Now he had come up against the political stresses in Europe and seen for himself something of the cynical playing with human life in which "leaders" indulge (Brander 1954, p. 7).

Clearly, Orwell again and again made use of his personal experiences in his writings. While many of these writings are essays and have a clear autobiographical element, he used the same approach in his novels without acknowledging the elements that came from his own experience. Indeed, he sought a certain anonymity, keeping his professional life apart from his private life by adopting a pseudonym, an act that in itself reflects certain concerns seen in his fiction as well:

Later commentators have made much of the significance of the name: George, the quintessence of an English name, and Orwell, a river in East Anglia, emphasizing its Englishness. So, too, Winston Smith can be seen as the essence of an English name: Winston taken from Winston Churchill, the lion who had done too much to win the Second World War, concluded in the year that Winston was born, and Smith, standing for everyman (Stansky 1983, p. 11).

Samuel Hynes (1971) finds a link between the generation of which Orwell was a part and the world Orwell created in 1984 in particular. Orwell, he says, was of the generation born in the first decade of this century. He and his contemporaries could just remember the Edwardian prewar era of security and world peace, and they also remember the massive change that came over that world with the beginning of the First World War. They were young in the cynical twenties, young men when the Depression arrived and brought poverty and unemployment and the apparent collapse of capitalist democracy. They were of military age when the Second World War started because of the rise of fascism:

Orwell's generation was the first for whom world wars, dictators, Storm Troopers, concentration camps, mass unemployment, and poverty composed the realities of Europe. It was impossible to ignore those public, political realities, impossible to live the wholly private life or to play the role of the indifferent artist. All one could do, it seemed was to face the world, to commit oneself, and to try to turn art into action (Hynes 1971, p. 2).

The aforementioned disillusionment that set in as Orwell fled the Communists who had formerly been his friends in Spain can be seen as a driving force in the shaping of Animal Farm, a book seen as a satire on Stalinism and Russian Communism. Orwell shows how good intentions in politics can be subverted. He adopts a tried and true satiric method by showing the corruption of principle by expediency. Animal Farm is the account of the destruction of Utopian aspirations under the onslaught of human… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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