One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

So said George Orwell—a socialist, mind you—in The Road to Wigan Pier.

What exactly was George Orwell trying to say here? Was he a misogynist? Some have made that claim, although it is perfectly laughable. In the same text, it says that Orwell has made a mockery of the middle-class socialist whose hypocrisy he critiques in their inherent, deep-set animosity for the working-class and yet at the same time desiring to be seen as one with the working-class. When a socialist himself begins to point out problems with an ideology he himself subscribes to, you know there’s going to be so much more.

The Big Question: Are Socialism and Communism the Same?

These two ideologies are often used interchangeably, and treated as such. They are similar in the sense that both philosophies are pertaining to economy. Both vouch for public ownership of goods as opposed to private ownership. Both philosophies emphasize the creation of a human society that is more equal and devoid of class-based distinctions.

The difference lies wherein democracy enters the equation: socialism is more compatible with a democratic form of a government as opposed to communism, which almost always leads to authoritarian regimes. The latter has all of history standing behind it—as well as George Orwell’s works. If you have read Orwell’s 1984, it shouldn’t be too difficult to visualize how a society that operates on forced equalities and no allowance of basic liberties works.

Democratic socialism allows for public interference and some private enterprise as opposed to communism which is an extremely political ideology. We’d try explaining why it would almost always fail, but we think another socialist telling you the same would hold more weight.

It’s over to comrade Orwell to prove a point now.

How Orwell Showed Communism Fails

Orwell, himself a devoted socialist, wrote critique upon critique disguised as fiction in two now-famous and then-banned novels: 1984 and Animal Farm. Both depict the creation of “perfect” and “equal” societies which aren’t exactly so perfect at all. Orwell observed, rightly, that Communist parties and governments tend to act like the alt-right as soon as they assume power: they assume absolute control over not just people’s actions but their beliefs and ideologies, their lives and learning, and so on.

Animal Farm

In Animal Farm, a bunch of farm animals rebel against their human owners, because they would rather govern themselves. Once they throw out the humans and assume an “equality” among all animals, things quickly go south and back to the old normal, with certain animals having become the new humans in this situation. It’s almost like the French Revolution but with pigs.


In 1984, we see the continent of Oceania and a political party only known as “the party” in action. We follow the life and trials of Winston Smith—a “low-ranking” party member—as he is disillusioned. But 1984, unlike The Matrix, has no happy endings. Winston Smith is no Neo.

In Oceania, the “party” controls everything: all the means of production, all the production, all the people’s lives, clothes, marriages, language, and even their thoughts. Oceania has a constant imagined enemy, re-writes history in the Ministry of Truth, and cracks down on dissent. We realize, by the end of the story, that class-based differences and oppression is just as real in a pretend-socialist world—only the comrades pretend it isn’t.

People will often say that Orwell was criticizing “totalitarianism” and not “socialism” or “communism”—but that’s just one way to chicken out. The truth is that Orwell satirized Stalin (Big Brother) and not Napoleon—because he saw something flawed herein. Although, to be fair, Orwell did name a pig in Animal Farm after Napoleon.

Poverty, Misery, Tyranny: The Holy Trinity of Socialism

As shown in Orwell’s greatest works and in real-life socialist democratic states (China, for one), socialism—which came with the promise of equality for all—has only ended in misery, poverty, and tyranny. Maybe the only way one could say that socialism has succeeded is in the sense that everyone is equally miserable in these kinds of governance. Sure, initially it does look like it brings prosperity—as was the background in 1984—but in the long run, socialism has a history of failing. Cuba and Vietnam are socialist democracies with none the better to show for economic prosperity. China, which is an economic giant, is famously known to be tyrannical towards its Uighur population.

The Tragedy of the Commons

In the 16ht Century, a quasi-socialist experiment in Britain ended rather horridly, which only proves how flawed socialism as a philosophy really is. It is, as the name suggests, a tragedy of the commons: every individual has the right to consume or use resources—at the expense of every other individual. So, let’s say a shepherd owns a certain area of land. He will have to allow everyone else to graze their sheep on the same path of land—and soon, all will suffer because humans will always act out of self-interest when presented with such a liberty. Resources will eventually be depleted. Every individual who did not need to graze sheep is harming every other individual who did need that.

Personal gains take precedence over the wellbeing of the society. In short, in a society, either socialism can prevail—or the society can.

The Bottom Line: Can a Socialist System Work in Our Society?

Sadly, we think not. There’s only one problem with socialism, and it’s this: it’s too perfect. On paper, that is. A socialist government is idealistic to say the least: equality for everyone, no questions asked and no demands made? That sounds too good to be true. Which is exactly why it isn’t true.

Human societies have always been fragmented and differentiated for a reason: humans are inherently and infinitely selfish. Call it an evolutionary feat, if you will, but it’s true. Our selfishness turns us into beings who prioritize furthering and preserving self-interests over all other things.

One of the things we always seem to forget is that no human society of government—even if it’s self-government—can ever be formed without the sham that we call politics. And politics is almost always vested in self-interest. The political class, all over the world, has always lived in relative luxury—especially in the societies where socialism is enforced.

It is massively naïve to expect that when you open all resources to everyone, humans will take only what they need. Human self-interest trumps all—thousands of years of coexistence and history books ought to have taught us that by now.

Socialism cannot prevail because it is too perfect on paper—because it expects the best from people on paper. History and the daily newspapers tell us how terrible a thought that is.

People will always crave power and luxury—just because they’re wearing red caps and have paintings of Marx in their lavish bungalows does not mean they’re any better than the capitalist business tycoons you hate. What matters is not the Marx painting—but the lavish bungalow.

We are not saying, by any means, that Marx was an economic determinist, nor saying that his position is not defensible. All we’re saying is the man was an idealist and believed in people—appealed to the good in people. That is usually the biggest mistake anyone can make.

Read More about Socialism as a Failed Concept

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