The New York Times reported at the beginning of 2017 that George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is suddenly a best-seller. Prof. Stefan Collini, of the University of Cambridge, explained to the NYT that readers saw a natural parallel between the book and “the way Mr. Trump and his staff have distorted facts.”
Since Orwell is back en vogue, it’s appropriate to remind readers that he liked socialism a lot more than he liked the common run of socialists. In ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ Orwell writes, “there is the horrible–the really disquieting–prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. 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.”
I had no opportunity to examine members of the Socialist Party of Maine during its founding convention on July 16, so I have no idea how closely the cranks meeting in Augusta’s Viles Arboretum corresponded to Orwell’s distressed description. Almost fifty years of associating with socialists of one variety or another, however, inclines me to suspect some resemblances. The vegetarians, sandal-wearers, nudists, and birth-control fanatics have pretty much fused with the climate-control fanatics and associated eco-weirdos. And, when we substitute Democratic Party grafters for those Labour Party crawlers, we see there hasn’t been much change across eighty years of history and three thousand miles of ocean.
Despite this, their meeting was a success. The Socialist Party of Eastern Maine was officially amalgamated with the Socialist Party of Southern Maine, creating the Socialist Party of Maine. I must leave it to the entomologists to distinguish the Socialist Party of Maine from the Maine Democratic Socialists of America, the Working Families Party, the Loafing Families Party, Millennials for…