A critique of Orwell's oligarchic collectivism as an economic system
Title: A critique of Orwell's oligarchic collectivism as an economic system
Author: NUTI, Domenico Mario
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 1985
Series/Number: EUI Working Papers; 161; [ECO]
This paper assesses the consistency, efficiency and viability of the economic system implicit and explicit in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first section illustrates the main features of Orwell's model: (its geopolitics, the convergence to a single system, ownership, planning, markets and prices, information, statistics, resources, technology, trade, public policy, permanent warfare) and its internal dynamics. The second section provides a critique, based on the implausibility of the whole if not of the parts of the model, the uni-dimensionality and indivisibility of Orwell's notion of power, the informational inefficiency of the system, the unwarranted extension of the results of the model to a three-players game between the superstates, technological regress, the lack of micro-foundations, the economic position of Outer Party members, the dehumanisation of the working class. The third section concludes, on the strength of these points, that Orwell's "oligarchic collectivism" does not stand the strain of close scrutiny as a feasible economic system, and remains simply a catalogue of all the things that could go wrong in a modern society, though not at the same time in the same society, let alone in all societies.
First made available online in May 2015.
Type of Access: openAccess
Published version: http://hdl.handle.net/1814/16791