George Orwell

George Orwell #

George Orwell, aka, Eric Arthur Blair, (1903, - Bengal, India, - 1950, London, England)

English novelist, essayist, and critic, famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), the latter a profound anti-utopian novel that examines the dangers of totalitarian rule. (Britannica)

Orwell attempted a renunciation of his privileged schooling by slumming it in Paris and London, going underground with the miners in northern England and in fighting with the socialists in the Spanish Civil War. This was the first of many disillusionments. He fought against the Machiavellian militarists of the left, the communist authoritarianism and all fascism. He warned of socialists making themselves comfortable in the Ritz.

Orwell warned us that totalitarianism can come from the apostasy of Socialist governments. Though he suffered from a crises of conscience regarding his role in supporting imperialism in Burma as a policeman, and believed in liberty, he readily became utterly disillusioned by the militancy of both the right - fascism and the left - tyrannical communism as practiced by the Bolsheviks. He valued much of the decency of British democracy that kept the filthy secret of power in check by stripping away the hypocrisy at the heart of all power mongers. He was a conservative in his attempts to preserve our freedoms.

Socialist governments espouse high ideals, yet when they get to power they are often quick to abandon those ideals to maintain control. In Orwell’s time, the Spanish Civil War opened his eyes to the apostasy of Russia’s Communist Government. During the Second World War, he saw further evidence that the British Labour Party was prone to abandon its principles to gain power. In many ways, the novel, 1984 is a warning about the dangers of the erosion of ideals, since the governing party, called INGSOC, represents English Socialism in a corrupted, perverted and debauched form. It has succumbed to the seduction of power and is determined to hang on to power by whatever means it can – tortuous machinations, expediency - pragmatism – realpolitik - political realism or practical politics, especially policy based on power rather than on ideals.

George Orwell also observed “only a socialist could have such contempt for ordinary people”.

When the Tories screw workers, they get angry; when the socialists do it, they just get sad.

As the parody of the Internationalegoes: “The working class can kiss my ass, I’ve got a politician’s job at last.”

“it’s usually not hard to find the truth – but first you have to want to know”.

The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your face.

The elite political class will always do its best to damage radical collective hope by owning people through fear and intimidation. 1984 demonstrates how good can be turned against itself; writing against writing, thinking against thinking, love against love. Children are encouraged to spy on their parents.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.’

*The hypnotic eyes (of Big Brother) gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you–something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses.

He believed hope resides incipiently in the Proles. Winston does not give up on them while Orwell did not give up on the British common people.

In a note to the American editions he writes to the citizens: ”Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.

Freedom is the dusk before the night.

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.

“He would write it for the reason he felt that all great literature, fiction and nonfiction, was written: truth comes out, in the end it always comes out.” Stephen King, The Shining

Robert Manne claims Orwell spent a career of making a moral effort against the prejudices that threaten to take root – a counter to nationalist bigotries or false self- serving reassurances. It is a plea for countries to make decisions that positively shape our future. These moral efforts become more urgent at times and even imperatives.

The National psyche is vulnerable to manipulated perceptions. Asylum seekers become demonised or on the other hand, one of the many positive paradigm shifts of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is the increased sensitivity around the treatment of victims (survivors) especially in our courts. Peter McLellan has reset the system by assimilating past trauma into the national psyche, making it acceptable to listen to the victims and believe the hurt, anger and pain and not allow it to be re-enacted to feather the nests of unscrupulous desperate depraved lawyers.

‘The working-class white man is actually in revolt against taxes, joyless work, the double standards and short memories of professional politicians, hypocrisy and what he considers the debasement of the American dream.’ Dewey Burton

Fortune, along with countless other magazines and tele­vision news features, recognized the workers of the early seventies as ‘restless, changeable, mobile, demanding’ and headed for ‘a time of epic battle between management and labor’ given the ‘angry, aggressive and acquisitive’ mood in the shops. As many big contracts expired, inflation ate up wage gains, and workers challenged the rules of postwar labor relations, the country wit­nessed the biggest wave of strike activity since 1946 (which was the biggest strike year in all of U.S. history).

Oppressive authoritarian leaders attempt to arrest our critical thinking capacities.

In 1984 Winston finally succumbs:

“It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”

He remembered remembering contrary things, but those were false memories, products of self –deception. Only surrender and everything else followed. It was like swimming against a current that swept you backward however hard you struggled and then suddenly deciding to turn around and go with the current.

“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

The terrifying inquisitor O’Brien tells the cowering Winston Smith:

“The sex instinct will be eradicated. . . . We shall abolish orgasm.”

And Winston’s intensely promiscuous girlfriend, Julia, explains why the Party needs sexual repression:

“When you make love you’re using up energy. And afterward you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and Three Year Plans and all the rest of that bollocks?”

Animal Farm #

Animal Farm is an allegorical fable, illustrating how a Marxist ideological can become corrupted by personal power machinations and become truly evil. It parodies the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky once Lenin dies. The question remains - how would things have turned out had Trotsky prevailed? Stalin managed to pervert communism by imposing collectivisation and industrialisation on the Soviet Union by brutal force, It is estimated that he was the cause of some 50 millions deaths.

The finale of Animal Farm:

“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.”