Orwell immersed himself within the struggles of the working class. But more important, he wanted any struggling people regardless of class to understand their common challenges. The book follows Orwell’s political evolution resulting in the later chapters educating readers on socialism during a desperate time of fascism in the 1930s. He saw status and vocation dividing classes like a wall of stone — more accurately like a wall of glass that people pretend isn’t there, he says. The solution is to find common ground.
Orwell expresses frustration with the basic tenants for socialism not being understood, and instead having a movement driven by the extremes. His urgent message to normalize socialism applies today. The tragedy of the commons is occurring in our oceans. See this month’s National Geographic story about plastic pollution. As Elinor Ostrom states, solving problems of the commons requires a collective solution. Applications of socialism can benefit our oceans, make US state colleges free, or ideally make a Facebook-like platform that’s publicly owned.
Bernie Sanders introduced socialism into the last US presidential race, and Orwell’s message is starting to become more mainstream. And let’s not forget other places where we already have socialism: the US Postal Service and fire departments.
And a favorite free software example of mine is the 3D modeling software, Blender. In the vein of George Orwell, this software is a shared resource, free, available to anyone, and maintained by a community. Because of the community constantly improving the software it has become robust application, as Blender.org says: “It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline.” It’s also impressive how Blender has become an economic powerhouse in a shared-commons kind of way. This is good for business, not just freedom and fairness.
Co-ops and socialism spread ownership. Maybe George Orwell would agree both are realistic approaches to justice and common decency.