This isn’t going to be one of those atheists tracts against Christians I promise. There is no point in beating a dead horse(1). I know that Orwell himself viewed the Anglican church in a positive light although he had a visceral hatred towards the Catholic church (2), both of these opinions are justified but that is a topic for another time. Orwell’s novel itself presents a pro-Christian view – in a godless dark world where the past has been rewritten to paint the English clergy as an oppressor, as a force for evil that the Party and the state has now ridden of and freed England from, the portrayal of Christianity in Animal Farm, that is to say in Soviet Russia is less flattering although a counter-point to that would be that Orwell set Animal Farm in England so that its analogy would not exempt the English.
However all that said, as Orwell himself pointed out in ‘Shakespeare, Tosloy and The Fool’, a text has often got an implied meaning as well, a counter argument to this claim of course would be that that ‘implied’ meaning is actually an ‘extracted meaning’ that the critic/reviewer conjurs from the text so that he(3) can use the work of fiction to catapult to push forward whatever agenda passes through his mind. With that preamble out of the way let me begin by pointing out that the Devil is an Emanuel Goldstein. A scapegoat for all the evil and pointless suffering which could not of course be caused by the Party nor God but could not be prevented because of Goldstein and his imp. Even more straightforward, and often pointed out is the obvious parallel between how Big Brother is watching us and looking out for us and punishing us for thought-crime just like God. The miraculous statistics are akin to the miracles that Catholic propagandists point towards as evidence to have fate in the Party, I mean the Church.
Another parallel that could be extrapolated is that since Big Brother is sort of meant to represent Stalin and Emanuel Goldstein represents Trotsky, then Trotsky is The Devil and God is a Stalin/ist (or if I am being a bit cheeky ‘God is Stalin’ or ‘Stalin is God’, the latter being the worse).
God = Stalin/Napoleon
Goldstein= The Devil/Satan/Trotsky/The Jews (Goldstein sounds Jewish both because of the ‘Gold-’ and because of the ‘-stein’ and the Jews killed Christ aka God(4) i.e. betrayed the revolution, the Jews have often been thought of as treacherous.)
Room 101= Heaven/Hell. The torture in Room 101 is hellish that is to say on point, but the brainwashing leads to Winston loving Big Brother just like in heaven one has to love and worship God forever. Ofcourse from Winston’s perspective he is happier than he has ever been now that he loves his God who has given him everything and who always looks out for him like a loving father/Big Brother that never goes away. This corruption of familial ties by the state and religion has always been very disturbing to me, to be honest more by the state as the church has a more limited reach to the private lives of church goers (unless of course it is one of those charismatic exclusive-club-like cult-like churches that do more harm to the standing of Christianity than ‘militant’ atheists could ever do) than the state has access to the lives of its citizens.
The Party and Party members= The Church and the Clergy (I admit this part of the analogy is weak). The Party’s obsession with the evisceration of sexual love is more of a direct parallel to some feminist thought that Orwell objected to. After all even the Catholic church is okay with sexual love within the married family – I mean between the parents of course. The point is that if you are a Christian you can still have more of an allegiance to your family more than to God and the church you belong to. Then again the bible, well Jesus, does say to abandon (and so betray) your family and loved ones for Big Brother(5). Muslims with their ‘regulations’ regarding the number of spouses one man might have and the shameless take a more practical approach in that context which is to be expected coming from some war lord more concerned with placating the pent-up frustrations of his men. I don’t think that The Party applies at all to them as they lack a central authority like say the Catholics do, well perhaps this is different within several Muslim nations like Iran and our noble ally and friend East Asia, I mean Saudi Arabia(6).
The Proles = Christians? Catholics? Once again, it is tempting to cast off one’s opposition as sheeple unless that is how they self-ascribe, I mean I wouldn’t want to offend them by telling them that they are not. All jokes aside, no, an unthinking group like the proles can only exist in a society with no free speech and where the past has been completely erased. I cannot find a parallel – in fact Christianity is part of the past that has survived into the present. As for group thinking – in which the proles do not take part in as they do not think at all either because their stomachs are full or empty – this is an entirely different phenomenon. And besides atheists can and do just as well turn into ‘a herd of independent minds’ e.g. ‘Oh I am independent minded, oh you agree with me, so you are independent minded as well, that person/group does not agree with us, how close-minded, right?’ Yeah, right.
Winston Smith= An atheist? No that would be a bit much. Well, perhaps an atheist in many a Muslim country might feel like he was Winston Smith.
O’Brien = Rene Descartes. This is an odd pairing, I admit, however there is a similarity in their arguments. The similarity is that they both believed that there is no objective reality outside of the mind.
(1) As Orwell puts it so long as people are more afraid of death than of hell then Christianity at any rate in England and by extension most of the former Christiandom is dead. When it comes to Islam it is another story as thousands are willing to kill, rape and be killed for God and for nothing else. I think that the current wave of ‘anti-theism’ is a direct result of 9/11 and Islamic population growth(mainly due to higher birth rates and immigration not because the death of Christianity has caused some vacuum for superstition that needs to be filled as Peter Hitchens and Freud seem to suggest).
(2) Going as far as to suggest that the Famiglia Sagrada INSERT NAME OF THAT BEAUTIFUL CHURCH IN SPAIN should have been burned down by the Republican side before they retreated. I suspect this was also because he could see a link from Catholicism to fascism, at any rate I can see one, no I am not saying that the Catholic church is fascist because it is isn’t but the transparent catholic propaganda, conjuring tricks and popishness are not that far from the histrionics of fascism (and communism for that matter, sometimes the differences between fascism and communism are in effect paper-thin, they are both collectivist anti-individualist ideologies) and the popism of its leaders.
(3) With all due respect none of which is due, it is immaterial which gender pronoun I use, use ‘she’ or ‘they’ if you like to make your text unreadable for the sake of virtue-signalling, I couldn’t care less but don’t ask me to.
(4) Interestingly many figures linked to the decline of Christianity in the Europe (aka ‘The Death of God’) are also Jews, for example Karl Marx, Freud, Albert Einstein(I know Einstein was a Pantheist but that too is a step away from God and what matters is the effec), Darwin etc… perhaps the Anti-Semites(well the Christian Anti-Semites anyway there as many types of Anti-Semites on earth as there are Jews) may be onto something… even a broken clock… Yes I shamelessly poached this footnote from Christopher Hitchen’s memoir. ‘SHAME… SHAME… SHAME…’ like that RC meme goes.
(5) Christians keep your sophistry of being able to serve your family and God at the same time to yourself, a man can’t serve two masters at once. As Orwell said the choice is always between this world and the next. Just repent for loving your family more than God and hope you will not end up in hell with the all atheists and people from other religions who rejected Christ.
(6) We have got to accept our friends warts and all, right? Especially if we can’t afford any better. East Asia is an evil oppressive dictatorship that we must erase off the surface of the earth of course.
Writer’s note: Did this article turn into an anti-Christian tract after-all? Oh well, old habits die hard (tips fedora) and I am not bothered to write it again, not that that could change anything.