Lives Journal 9

Rajko Shushtarshich

 

THE VALUES OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN ANIMAL FARM ?

 

I will now illustrate why the value system of social differentiation (segregation) is unavoidable, historically determined or simply destined to be on our planet in the shortest way possible. It is so simple that even pariahs would understand it, if only we would explain to them that this is not a fairytale, that Animal Farm is only a metaphor for the fate of general human social differentiation – stratification, or the value system of social stratification.

 

In Animal Farm, everything really began with Major’s dream:

»Major, the prize Middle White boar of Manor Farm had a strange dream before his death.« Actually, he dreamt of utopia. We could also say that he dreamt of the three basic institutional values of systems: »freedom«, »brotherhood« and »equality«. In this article we shall focus only on the latter:

It is true that they had discussed this a long time ago, he could still remember ... and yet it was forgotten. And the dreams had never yet come true.

As he had had a long life and as he spent so much time lying in his pigsty, he had enough time to think and discover the essence of life on this earth – better than any other living animal:

 

No animal in England is free.

The life of an animal is misery and slavery.

That is the plain truth!

But is this simply part of the order of nature?

 

His answer was clear, concise:

 

»There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.« (This is an encoded reference to the fundamental cause: misery and slavery and social segregation.)

»That is my message to you comrades: Rebellion!«

»Rebellion might come in a week or a hundred years«, but it was a historical necessity.

 

After the successful rebellion at Animal Farm – which I will not describe here as we still know it more or less by heart from our own experience – Snowball, »who was the best at writing« – he was the clerk or the ideologist, second only to Napoleon in hierarchy, and he had proved himself best in the revolution – first painted out:

 

»MANOR FARM«

and in its place painted in large letters:

»ANIMAL FARM«

 

I should also mention commandment 7 that is crucial for our debate (nowadays we would call this a PP slogan – political propaganda, until recently known as AP – agitprop):

 

»7. ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL«

 

There followed a dramatic period of renovation and progress on the farm – or rather selfless construction and development that I will again not describe for the above mentioned reason. As the farm developed, the commandments became less and less useful while practical entreaties such as the one that follows by Boxer became increasingly practical: »I will work even harder!«

And at the end of the fairytale there remained only one Commandment that went as follows:

 

»ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL

BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS«

 

A more precise version of the same appeal would be:

 

»ALL ANIMALS ARE SOCIALLY EQUAL,

BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.«

 

 

Right at the end Napoleon made just one comment on Pilkington’s outstanding and friendly, neighbourly speech. Mr Pilkington namely insisted on referring to the farm as »Animal Farm«. Of course – he could not have known, for He – Napoleon now announces for the first time that he is abolishing the name »Animal Farm«. From now on, the farm will be called »Manor Farm«, which, as he knows, is the only correct and original name.

"Gentlemen," concluded Napoleon, "I will give you the same toast as before, but in a different form. Fill your glasses to the brim. Gentlemen, here is my toast:

 

»TO THE PROSPERITY OF THE MANOR FARM!«

 

There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover's old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.

 

But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

 

That is how things turned out at Animal Farm after the animal revolution and in socialism after the people’s revolution »the revolutionaries – the avant-garde«. And now we are at that point of development or progress, whichever you prefer, when, 50 years after the expropriation of the expropriators, returning property to the expropriated is considered a sacred obligation.  In other words, social injustices suffered by former proprietors should be rectified, but only in a way and to an extent that does not produce new proprietors!

We could also say that the time has now come for the »de-expropriation« of the expropriators or the return of property to the expropriators and above all for appropriation by »new« – and old – appropriators.

For the benefit of people and humanity, I will, however, single out one particular meaning out of the many meanings inherent in the conclusion of this very instructive fairytale. I would not want anyone to overlook it:

Orwell’s animals are looking through the window and cannot see any difference between the people and the pigs: »They are all alike!«

 

SOCIAL EQUALITY WAS THEREFORE NOT POSSIBLE,

THEIR IDENTICALNESS WAS STRONGER THAN THEY WERE.

 

We could also put it differently: social equality was possible only amongst Them (the elite, the avant-garde, the higher class). We could even call it identicalness – that is generated by the determinism of social roles. For if we disregard the number of their chins (status symbols), it is difficult to separate them from each other; for the other people of »lower classes« and »lower« animals, social differentiation and stratification is valid.

In essence, social equality and social differentiation are one and the same thing. Individuals are supposed to be distinguishable according to social class, while within a particular class they are supposed to be as equal as possible. Reductionism of individuality is thereby realised on a still manageable social measure. The need of individuals for differentiation and the need of systems for social typification is supposed to be satisfied in this way.

The values of freedom, brotherhood and equality that were dreamt of by Major, were, or only just became social (institutional) values. The end of the story is historically determined as the screenplay of institutional values knows no exceptions and allows only greater or lesser procrastination and here and there certain limitations that are variations of the same and dependent on national and some other civil particularities.

 

___________

George Orwell: Animal Farm (Fairy story), Ljubljana 1982

 

 

 

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DEFINE VALUES!

 

Values are like a song, they are like music or alternatively they are the horror of evil or empty words, devoid of meaning, that are not even worthy of being called lies. Even if they exist on the surface of our consciousness, they possess a certain power that commands us and directs us because we are weak beings who are rarely confronted with our own selves, and we are mostly abandoned to others, including those who know what they want – the engineers of human souls.

The symbols that denote values have multiple meanings, they are those kinds of symbols whose meaning is hardest to set and if we do that, we are violating their freedom. The symbols that denote values are only approximate symbolic markers of direct states and directions of consciousness. If we do not wish to remain on the surface, then we must delve into them to reach those states in which we can no longer express them unambiguously or banally. I think there are no more mysterious symbols than those that denote values. That is why there are no greater disagreements than when we discuss values and no greater manipulations than when we manipulate with them.

Man needs values in order to orientate and substantiate the meaning of his existence.

Values are required by an organisation, a system of institutional hierarchy, in order to be more effective, to provide a reason for its existence and expansion. It is with values that people are governed. And because it seems to me that there is a large disproportion, that it is man that is under threat and not the system, I believe it is worth making sense of these values for man, this not unimportant individual, and not for the mighty system which has its own experts. It is not possible to study values without taking sides with a value or values.

Confronting individual value orientations and socially valid value orientations is not just the internalisation of values, not just the socialisation of the individual, his incorporation in the system, but something much more important: we can say that it is fateful for the individual. Mighty, socially valid value systems literally suck in the individual, convince him and constantly persuade him that his essence is a social essence that is realised only through his participation in social systems. This cannot be denied as social systems could not exist otherwise; however, there is a minor detail here, a certain diferenca specifica. The individual is free and has only one serious task in life which is: to realise himself, his value orientation and realise his own personal value system. In moments of doubt, which express his inner division, he makes a sacrifice in favour of the common good – or is convinced of it – because of this great disproportion in favour of social essence, in favour of the strong system. But he sacrifices his freedom: to an organisation, an institution, a system. That is how the majority act and we act this way mainly because of this large discrepancy and social value systems are incredibly stable and rigid and only change gradually. With their awe-inspiring might they neutralise variations in individual spontaneity. Here am I and here are the others, who are many, hundreds, thousands, millions of others; here am I and there is the institution of our partial we. To be loyal means to rid oneself of doubt, transfer responsibility on others, i.e. on you, to find a safe haven in institutionalisation and its order of values.

However, man is always alone at the end when he no longer needs others and when others no longer need him. There are exceptions when we need his work, his legacy, former glory and power; this is all true, but this is not him, it is only his image, his symbol.

Of course, this is not the only value definition in the exploration of values that is personal; in exploring them we are constantly coming across a personal value determination. And one is such that it should be explained right at the outset. I have been analysing values for a number of years now without defining them. If this study of values is to be done scientifically then a clear definition of the object of study is expected. I should therefore have done this already at the beginning of my efforts in this field. I can only thank the disinterestedness of our contemporary sociology for the study of values for tolerating such a failure to respect academic habits for so long. And when, in my walk along the edge of institutional science I have come so far that I no longer care if my efforts can still be considered scientific or not, I have arrived in a state of consciousness in which I can try and express some thoughts about values in the way that they appear to me and in a time and space that is not particularly inclined to the study of values. And now I must disappoint those who expect that I will at last make the mistake and define values. Values simply cannot be defined, no value can be defined and not just the ideas or values of freedom as we saw in the essay by Henri Bergson. Whoever does this deprives them of value. Even articles that have been raised up into values when they actually provide a value orientation for people, can no longer be defined. Values in their essence are simply not accessible to science. By this I do not mean that science must leave them alone completely (which it has actually already done with its hypothesis of being neutral as regards values, without even mentioning the hypothesis of science that has neutral values). Values define science, just as they define religion and religions, ideology and ideologies, economics and economies; they determine their value systems. Values orientate science. Value orientations are primary (direct) indicatives in science. What science is lacking completely is a consistent value-based reflexion on the meaning and purpose of its expansion in the social system and a reflexion on this in each individual, concrete study, discovery and invention. To put it more simply: science that acts as if it were above ethics or outside it is as if it were unethical. However, if science does not do this or hardly deals with it at all, then it leaves this task it has to others. Science whose values are directed by religion, ideology or capital, is disorientated and develops absurdly. There can be no more doubt about this nowadays; it is obvious to every individual who must be conscious of the kind of world they are living in. Amazingly, this is the least obvious to scientists, specialists and experts who are lost in their dreams and blinded and are most responsible for things being the way they are. I have in mind the autonomous orientation of science in which science is setting its own foundations.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness and expansion of autonomous scientific propaganda is possible only with non-scientific propaganda. Pure scientific propaganda, which is only rational, is dull and ineffective. It is only effective if it surpasses the analytical level, if it is synthetic, integral, intuitive, instinctive and spontaneous. Only autonomous (independent) cultural propaganda is such and is the only one that can continue to be culturally unique – Slovenian.

The assertion that it is not possible to define values has far-reaching consequences and it can be used to explain the unattractiveness of values in sociology, i.e. their marginality. However, I must explain this in greater depth. An attempt to define values or one value impoverishes them and causes the meaningless reductionism of the meaning of values into a semantic violence of symbol against meaning and as has already been said and what is essential: we deprive values of their value and validity by defining them. Of course, you will protest by asking how it is even possible to communicate with such indefinable symbols that are values? The answer is simple and can be split in two directions: we communicate very inaccurately with symbols that denote values, we do not communicate with values but with approximate value orientations and with nondeterministic value systems in which every value – its symbol – only approximately reflects its meaning and its structuring in the value system is inevitable for our consciousness. And this holds true for every value system.

The meaning of a value or value orientation can be determined only in relation to all other values in the system. The broader and deeper the value system is, the closer the value is to its meaning and even mistakes in denotation with unsuitable symbols can be deciphered. It cannot be determined completely, but much more than if we deal with it separately, isolated from the system. It cannot be determined in its entirety because it is alive and as Bergson would say »in constant growth«.

The other direction of the answer is more important although you might have trouble accepting it: our common sense rejects it because it smacks of parapsychology – that is what reason says. It begins with us not constructing value systems, we do not impose value orientations on other people and we do not invent values but perceive them intuitively. We do not communicate only through symbols, the markers of values, but always and at the same time directly too. Without perceiving the duration of time in the structure of consciousness, as I have attempted to explain with the help of Bergson’s presentation of direct facts of consciousness, we will probably not achieve even minimal consensus in communication regarding this second direction of the answer. In what follows, the matter is again very simple. We exchange facts and states of consciousness directly and the symbol is only a correlate of direct consensus. The symbol on its own is empty; even composed, complex symbols are empty. If we have not filled them with spirit we cannot draw from them something that is not there.

 

But you will certainly agree that communication in which one person scatters empty symbols and the other fills them with meanings that mean something to him alone is pointless, if not meaningless. And if this nevertheless occurs quite often, and we could say that it does, this does not mean that a deeper and fuller communication between us is not possible. It would be ideal and complete if we no longer needed these correlates and symbols and they would become not only ballast and a hurdle, which they already are, but completely superfluous.

An analytic mind cannot bear such communication. If it might still be prepared to hear of the possibility of such more direct communication in which the persons involved are in the same space and time, it cannot accept that such more direct communication were possible when the two persons are undefined in space and time, nor when a letter stands between them, the recorded magic word. For reason there is no magic of words or it is identical for all, equally un-mysterious and clear. Reason tends only in one direction of communication, to the exactness of the record, encoding and decoding and therefore completely eliminates the possibility of connecting with what is only symbolically indicated behind the symbols. And this is nevertheless so simple. The idea of duration, the idea of simultaneous states of consciousness is directly accessible to our consciousness once it has broken through the initial analytical resistance. »Connecting« with the state of consciousness of another person is after all what we call communication. And reviving symbols is only the symbolism of their revival; actually, we do not even revive them, we revive that which they are only a correlate to and a starting point for more direct consensus. And values are the kind of symbol with which we do this most easily and most often.

 

 

 

Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich

 

 

 

_______________

Rajko Shushtarshich, Vrednote socialne stratifikacije v Zhivalski farmi?

http://www.revijasrp.si/knrevsrp/pogum1999-1/vredn1.htm

Objavljeno v broshuri: Matjazh Hanzhek – Rajko Shushtarshich, Pogum Revije SRP, sht. 1, Ljubljana, februar 1999;

in v: Revija SRP 13/14, februar 1996, Ljubljana; http://www.revijasrp.si/knrevsrp/revsrp13/rajsh13/1vress13.htm

 

Glej tudi: Traktat o svobodi ali Vrednotni sistem, Lumi, Ljubljana 1992;

el. knjiga: Pogum Revije SRP 2001/1, Ljubljana, februar 1999:

http://www.revijasrp.si/knrevsrp/pogum2001-1/pogum7i.htm

Vrednot ni mogoche definirati, p.25; Sedaj pa se lahko vrnemo k vrednoti svobode, p.28

 

 

 

Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)