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Red BritainThe Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture$
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Matthew Taunton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198817710

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198817710.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 September 2021

Two and Two Make Five

Two and Two Make Five

(p.60) 2 Two and Two Make Five
Red Britain

Matthew Taunton

Oxford University Press

The Bolshevik Revolution induced British writers to rethink the politics of number, and this chapter considers the significance of the marked preponderance of numbers, equations, and arithmetic in discussions of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet State. It explores the obsessive use of statistics by the Soviet Union and its British defenders, as a utilitarian form of socialism came to dominate left-wing discussions of politics. The chapter theorizes a ‘Romantic anti-Communism’ that opposed itself to such calculations, and often to the principle of quantitative equality. The chapter also explores—partly via the equation ‘two and two make five’ (featured Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, but also in other texts that mediate the relationship between Russian and British socialism)—how the seemingly timeless propositions of mathematics were up for grabs in the debates around Marxist science and dialectical materialism. Writers covered include Orwell, Arthur Koestler, and Bertrand Russell.

Keywords:   mathematics and literature, dialectical materialism, utilitarianism and literature, Marxist science, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Nineteen Eighty-Four, modernism, Socialism, Communism

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