Murray Rothbard on George Orwell's "1984"Submitted by Marc Clair on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 09:52
When describing the current state of affairs and the encroaching police state, libertarians often compare the system we are living under to that described in George Orwell’s 1984. The neocons of their day immediately seized upon the popularity of 1984 and used it as an analogy for the Communist Soviet Union at the time.
Murray Rothbard also saw the groundbreaking novel as an analogy to modern times. In his review of the book which was published in the September 1949 edition of Analysis magazine, he describes how the ruling Party uses wars and the constant threat of wars to oppress and control the populace:
One significant method that the Party uses to remain in power is to contrive to keep its country always at war with some other country. The other countries are also run by similar parties, though each have different names. By the process of doublethink every loyal Party member believes that his part will ultimately conquer the world, yet also recognizes that all the countries tacitly engage in a war that never becomes too “hot.” Thus, each Party has an excuse to starve and terrorize its subjects in the name of military necessity, while its ruler remains secure from any wartime disaster.
Instead of simply comparing the dystopian Big Brother world of 1984 to the Communist system of the Soviet Union, Rothbard is able to look deeper, and see how the world Orwell describes is similar to our own for a different reason. Rothbard sees a more accurate comparison to how the three main superstates described in 1984 - Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia - mutually keep war going for the purposes of oppressing and controlling their own populations. This seems to be more of an analogy to the “Cold War” occurring between the United States and the Soviet Union, as opposed to simply a propaganda piece against “the Reds.”