Programming note: If you didn't catch last weekend's first audio episode of Steyn's Song of the Week on Serenade Radio, you missed a treat: I told the story of "Stardust" - or "Star Dust", as it started out. Our second Song of the Week airs Sunday on Serenade at 5.30pm UK time, right after Sing Something Simple. 5.30pm BST is 12.30pm Eastern/9.30am Pacific, which makes it a Sunday brunchy kind of show in the Americas. But, wherever you are in this turbulent world, you can listen to it by clicking on the button in the top right-hand corner here.
While you're counting the hours till that extravaganza, welcome to Part Six of our latest nightly audio entertainment - a bit of escapism all about how utopian illusions curdle into something dark, tyrannous and violent. So nothing to do with our world then. Instead, it's Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Suzanne Reny, a Quebec member of The Mark Steyn Club (so just a few miles from me in northern New Hampshire but separated in perpetuity by Justin's Maple Curtain), writes of last night's episode:
Great recitation of this cautionary tale, Mark. First read this book in high school and it describes the political machinations of all stripes, power is the be all and end all. In today's news we learn that even the right side of the aisle, in virtually every country, is right on board with the notion of "build back better". Its meaning can morph into whatever the political elite think is best on a particular day. Sort of like Snowball's idea is bad one day and the best the next, according to who presents it,that is! Sound familiar?
Indeed - although, as we shall see, Animal Farm's "Build Back Better" is less of an obvious crock than the current model.
In tonight's episode the subtle gradations in equality of animals are beginning to be noticed:
It was about this time that the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there. Again the animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this had been passed in the early days, and again Squealer was able to convince them that this was not the case. It was absolutely necessary, he said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in. It was also more suited to the dignity of the Leader (for of late he had taken to speaking of Napoleon under the title of 'Leader') to live in a house than in a mere sty. Nevertheless, some of the animals were disturbed when they heard that the pigs not only took their meals in the kitchen and used the drawing-room as a recreation room, but also slept in the beds. Boxer passed it off as usual with 'Napoleon is always right!', but Clover, who thought she remembered a definite ruling against beds, went to the end of the barn and tried to puzzle out the Seven Commandments which were inscribed there...
To listen to my serialization of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, please click here.
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