Orwell Socialism Quotes

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If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them.
George Orwell (1984)
The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.
George Orwell (1984)
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.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except "Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it"? Money has become the grand test of virtue.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like Negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. Change places, and handy dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Everyone who has mixed on equal terms with the poor knows this quite well. But the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty?
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
The ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims. The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom. The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called "doublethink," and which mental health professionals, searching for calm, precise language, call "dissociation." It results in protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms of hysteria which Freud recognized a century ago as disguised communications about sexual abuse in childhood. . . .
Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
In practice nobody cares if work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except " Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it"? Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.
George Orwell (1984)
Literature, especially poetry, and lyric poetry most of all, is a kind of family joke, with little or no value outside its own language-group.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day's liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. 'Anything,' he thinks, 'any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.' He does not see that since there is no difference between the mass of rich and poor, there is no question of setting the mob loose. The mob is in fact loose now, and--in the shape of rich men--is using its power to set up enormous treadmills of boredom, such as 'smart' hotels.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
I am a degenerate modern semi-intellectual who would die if I did not get my early morning cup of tea and my New Statesman every Friday. Clearly I do not, in a sense, 'want' to return to a simpler, harder, probably agricultural way of life. In the same sense I don't 'want' to cut down on my drinking, to pay my debts, to take enough exercise, to be faithful to my wife, etc. etc. But in another and more permanent sense I do want these things, and perhaps in the same sense I want a civilization in which 'progress' is not definable as making the world safe for little fat men.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades ... Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet
George Orwell
It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary 'working' men. They are a race apart--outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men 'work', beggars do not 'work'; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not 'earn' his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic 'earns' his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable. Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no ESSENTIAL difference between a beggar's livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but, then, what is WORK? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course--but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. And as a social type a beggar compares well with scores of others. He is honest compared with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor, amiable compared with a hire-purchase tout--in short, a parasite, but a fairly harmless parasite. He seldom extracts more than a bare living from the community, and, what should justify him according to our ethical ideas, he pays for it over and over in suffering. I do not think there is anything about a beggar that sets him in a different class from other people, or gives most modern men the right to despise him. Then the question arises, Why are beggars despised?--for they are despised, universally. I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living. In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modem talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except 'Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it'? Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately. A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a businessman, getting his living, like other businessmen, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modem people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
Orwell was dealing with communism and his disillusionment with communism in Russia and what he saw the communists do in Spain. His novel was a response to those political situations. Whereas I was interested in more things than the political atmosphere. I was considering the whole social atmosphere: the impact of TV and radio and the lack of education. I could see the coming event of schoolteachers not teaching reading anymore. The less they taught, the more you wouldn't need books.
Ray Bradbury
It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
George Orwell
The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her—her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever-seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘It isn’t the same for them as it would be for us,’ and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her—understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way.
George Orwell (Politics and the English Language)
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. . . . The food-crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years on to the life of his carcase; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
It is not that anyone imagines the law to be just. Everyone knows that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. But no one accepts the implications of this, everyone takes it for granted that the law, such as it is, will be respected, and feels a sense of outrage when it is not.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
Socialism does mean justice and liberty when the nonsense is stripped off it.
George Orwell
It is a fact that any rich man, unless he is a Jew, has less to fear from Fascism than from either Communism or democratic Socialism.
George Orwell (Why I Write)
When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! Think of a programme which at any rate for a while could bring Hitler, Petain, Montagu Norman, Pavelitch, William Randolph Hearst, Streicher, Buchman, Ezra Pound, Juan March, Cocteau, Thyssen, Father Coughlin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Arnold Lunn, Antonescu, Spengler, Beverley Nichols, Lady Houston, and Marinetti all into the same boat! But the clue is really very simple. They are all people with something to lose, or people who long for a hierarchical society and dread the prospect of a world of free and equal human beings. Behind all the ballyhoo that is talked about ‘godless’ Russia and the ‘materialism’ of the working class lies the simple intention of those with money or privileges to cling to them. Ditto, though it contains a partial truth, with all the talk about the worthlessness of social reconstruction not accompanied by a ‘change of heart’. The pious ones, from the Pope to the yogis of California, are great on the’ change of heart’, much more reassuring from their point of view than a change in the economic system.
George Orwell (England Your England and Other Essays)
Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.
George Orwell (Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays)
Is a PLONGEUR'S work really necessary to civilization? We have a feeling that it must be 'honest' work, because it is hard and disagreeable, and we have made a sort of fetish of manual work. We see a man cutting down a tree, and we make sure that he is filling a social need, just because he uses his muscles; it does not occur to us that he may only be cutting down a beautiful tree to make room for a hideous statue. I believe it is the same with a PLONGEUR. He earns his bread in the sweat of his brow, but it does not follow that he is doing anything useful; he may be only supplying a luxury which, very often, is no luxury at all.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
George Orwell was wrong, she thinks. In the future, it won’t be the state that keeps tabs on everyone by extensive use of surveillance; it will be the people. They’ll do the state’s work for it by constantly uploading their locations, interests, food preferences, restaurant choices, political ideas, and hobbies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. We are our own secret police.
Adrian McKinty (The Chain)
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt impelled" to write it. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations of a co-operative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels impelled" to write -- feels, presumably, that he has something new to say -- and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.
George Orwell (Politics and the English Language)
No born Londoner (it is different with people of Scotch or Irish origin) now says 'bloody,' unless he is a man of some education. The word has, in fact, moved up in the social scale and ceased to be a swear word for the purposes of the working classes. The current London adjective, now tacked on to every noun, is -----. No doubt in time -----, like 'bloody,' will find its way into the drawing room and replaced by some other word.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any the worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
The fact that has got to be faced is that to abolish class-distinctions means abolishing a part of yourself. Here am I, a typical member of the middle class. It is easy for me to say that I want to get rid of class-distinctions, but nearly everything I think and do is a result of class-distinctions. All my notions — notions of good and evil, of pleasant and unpleasant, of funny and serious, of ugly and beautiful — are essentially middle-class notions; my taste in books and food and clothes, my sense of honour, my table manners, my turns of speech, my accent, even the characteristic movements of my body, are the products of a special kind of upbringing and a special niche about half-way up the social hierarchy.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
I have managed to make the Capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against Capitalism.
George Orwell (Essays)
War, for all its evil, is at any rate an unanswerable test of strength, like a try-your-grip machine. Great strength returns the penny, and there is no way of faking the result.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
Socialists seem to think George Orwell’s 1984 is a suggestion, or at least are unashamed of mimicking the methods of the totalitarian state Orwell depicted. Libertarians know it to be a warning, and a government that micro-manages all aspects of humanity an intolerable reality.
A.E. Samaan
Pacifism is a psychological curiosity rather than a political movement. Some of the extremer pacifists, starting out with a complete renunciation of violence, have ended by warmly championing Hitler and even toying with antisemitism. This is interesting, but it is not important. ‘Pure’ pacifism, which is a by-product of naval power, can only appeal to people in very sheltered positions. Moreover, being negative and irresponsible, it does not inspire much devotion.
George Orwell (The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
A few have become acquainted with Orwell’s 1984; because it is both difficult to obtain and dangerous to possess, it is known only to certain members of the Inner Party. Orwell fascinates them through his insight into details they know well, and through his use of Swiftian satire. Such a form of writing is forbidden by the New Faith because allegory, by nature manifold in meaning, would trespass beyond the prescriptions of socialist realism and the demands of the censor. Even those who know Orwell only by hearsay are amazed that a writer who never lived in Russia should have so keen a perception into its life.
Czesław Miłosz
In the late 1940s, a dystopian novel based on the notorious horrors of ‘National Socialism’ would probably have been very well-received. But it would have done nothing to shake the complacency of Western intellectuals concerning the system of state terror for which, at the time, so many of them had either a blind spot or a soft spot.
Christopher Hitchens (Why Orwell Matters)
The English will never develop into a nation of philosophers. They will always prefer instinct to logic and character to intelligence. But they must get rid of their downright contempt for 'cleverness'. They cannot afford it any longer. They must grow less tolerant of ugliness, and mentally more adventurous. And they must stop despising foreigners. They are Europeans and ought to be aware of it.
George Orwell (The Lion and The Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius)
Collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of. ... By bringing the whole of life under the control of the State, Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stick at nothing in order to retain it.
George Orwell
If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love. when the last of the chocolate was gone, his mother had clasped the child in her arms. It was no use, it changed nothing, it did not produce more chocolate, it did net avert the child's death or her own; but it seemed natural to do it. The refugee woman in the boat had also covered the little boy with her arm, which was no more use against bullets than a sheet of paper. The terrible thing that the party has done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. When once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel, what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference. Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again. You were lifted clean out of history.
George Orwell (1984)
It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary ‘working’ men. They are a race apart—outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men ‘work’, beggars do not ‘work’; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not ‘earn’ his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic ‘earns’ his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable. Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no ESSENTIAL difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but, then, what is WORK? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course—but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
Dickens seems to have succeeded in attacking everybody and antagonizing nobody.
George Orwell (Essays)
As George Orwell might have said, with socialism all men are created equal, only some are more equal than others.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo (The Problem with Socialism)
We see a man cutting down a tree, and we make sure that he is filling a social need, just because he uses his muscles; it does not occur to us that he may only be cutting down a beautiful tree to make room for a hideous statue.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
It reminded us that propaganda in some form or other lurks in every book, that every work of art has a meaning and a purpose — a political, social and religious purpose — that our aesthetic judgements are always coloured by our prejudices and beliefs
George Orwell
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another.
George Orwell (A Collection of Essays)
George Orwell introduced the dictator Big Brother in his novel 1984, as I’m sure you know. The book was an allegorical treatment of Stalinism, of course. And ever since then, the term ‘Big Brother’ has functioned as a social icon. That was Orwell’s great accomplishment. But now, in the real year 1984, Big Brother is all too famous, and all too obvious. If Big Brother were to appear before us now, we’d point to him and say, ‘Watch out! He’s Big Brother!’ There’s no longer any place for a Big Brother in this real world of ours.
Haruki Murakami (1Q84)
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.
George Orwell (Politics and the English Language)
The point is that you have here a direct, unmistakable assault on sanity and decency; and even - since some of Dali’s pictures would tend to poison the imagination like a pornographic postcard - on life itself. What Dali has done and what he has imagined is debatable, but in his outlook, his character, the bedrock decency of a human being does not exist. He is as anti-social as a flea. Clearly, such people are undesirable, and a society in which they can flourish has something wrong with it. Now, if you showed this book, with its illustrations, to Lord Elton, to Mr. Alfred Noyes, to The Times leader writers who exult over the “eclipse of the highbrow” - in fact, to any “sensible” art-hating English person - it is easy to imagine what kind of response you would get. They would flatly refuse to see any merit in Dali whatever. Such people are not only unable to admit that what is morally degraded can be æsthetically right, but their real demand of every artist is that he shall pat them on the back and tell them that thought is unnecessary. And they can be especially dangerous at a time like the present, when the Ministry of Information and the British Council put power into their hands. For their impulse is not only to crush every new talent as it appears, but to castrate the past as well. Witness the renewed highbrow-baiting that is now going on in this country and America, with its outcry not only against Joyce, Proust and Lawrence, but even against T. S. Eliot. But if you talk to the kind of person who can see Dali’s merits, the response that you get is not as a rule very much better. If you say that Dali, though a brilliant draughtsman, is a dirty little scoundrel, you are looked upon as a savage. If you say that you don’t like rotting corpses, and that people who do like rotting corpses are mentally diseased, it is assumed that you lack the æsthetic sense. Since “Mannequin rotting in a taxicab” is a good composition. And between these two fallacies there is no middle position, but we seldom hear much about it. On the one side Kulturbolschewismus: on the other (though the phrase itself is out of fashion) “Art for Art’s sake.” Obscenity is a very difficult question to discuss honestly. People are too frightened either of seeming to be shocked or of seeming not to be shocked, to be able to define the relationship between art and morals. It will be seen that what the defenders of Dali are claiming is a kind of benefit of clergy. The artist is to be exempt from the moral laws that are binding on ordinary people. Just pronounce the magic word “Art,” and everything is O.K.
George Orwell (Dickens, Dali and Others)
Many things in this period have been hard to bear, or hard to take seriously. My own profession went into a protracted swoon during the Reagan-Bush-Thatcher decade, and shows scant sign of recovering a critical faculty—or indeed any faculty whatever, unless it is one of induced enthusiasm for a plausible consensus President. (We shall see whether it counts as progress for the same parrots to learn a new word.) And my own cohort, the left, shared in the general dispiriting move towards apolitical, atonal postmodernism. Regarding something magnificent, like the long-overdue and still endangered South African revolution (a jagged fit in the supposedly smooth pattern of axiomatic progress), one could see that Ariadne’s thread had a robust reddish tinge, and that potential citizens had not all deconstructed themselves into Xhosa, Zulu, Cape Coloured or ‘Eurocentric’; had in other words resisted the sectarian lesson that the masters of apartheid tried to teach them. Elsewhere, though, it seemed all at once as if competitive solipsism was the signifier of the ‘radical’; a stress on the salience not even of the individual, but of the trait, and from that atomization into the lump of the category. Surely one thing to be learned from the lapsed totalitarian system was the unwholesome relationship between the cult of the masses and the adoration of the supreme personality. Yet introspective voyaging seemed to coexist with dull group-think wherever one peered about among the formerly ‘committed’. Traditionally then, or tediously as some will think, I saw no reason to discard the Orwellian standard in considering modern literature. While a sort of etiolation, tricked out as playfulness, had its way among the non-judgemental, much good work was still done by those who weighed words as if they meant what they said. Some authors, indeed, stood by their works as if they had composed them in solitude and out of conviction. Of these, an encouraging number spoke for the ironic against the literal mind; for the generously interpreted interest of all against the renewal of what Orwell termed the ‘smelly little orthodoxies’—tribe and Faith, monotheist and polytheist, being most conspicuous among these new/old disfigurements. In the course of making a film about the decaffeinated hedonism of modern Los Angeles, I visited the house where Thomas Mann, in another time of torment, wrote Dr Faustus. My German friends were filling the streets of Munich and Berlin to combat the recrudescence of the same old shit as I read: This old, folkish layer survives in us all, and to speak as I really think, I do. not consider religion the most adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, literature alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and beautiful human being. [italics mine] The path to this concept of enlightenment is not to be found in the pursuit of self-pity, or of self-love. Of course to be merely a political animal is to miss Mann’s point; while, as ever, to be an apolitical animal is to leave fellow-citizens at the mercy of Ideolo’. For the sake of argument, then, one must never let a euphemism or a false consolation pass uncontested. The truth seldom lies, but when it does lie it lies somewhere in between.
Christopher Hitchens (For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports)
But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned. The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship, as it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating unfreedom and inequality. These new movements, of course, grew out of the old ones and tended to keep their names and pay lip-service to their ideology. But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment.
George Orwell (1984)
Plain words on plain paper. Remember what Orwell says, that good prose is like a windowpane. Cut every page you write by at least a third. Stop constructing those piffling little similes of yours. Work out what you want to say. Then say it in the most direct and vigorous way you can. Eat meat. Drink blood. Give up your social life and don't think you can have friends. Rise in the quiet hours of the night and prick your fingertips and use the blood for ink; that will cure you of persiflage! But do I take my own advice? Not a bit. Persiflage is my nom de guerre. (Don't use foreign expressions. It's elitist.)
Hilary Mantel
Vladimir Nabokov and George Orwell had quite different gifts, and their self-images were quite different. But, I shall argue, their accomplishment was pretty much the same. Both of them warn the liberal ironist intellectual against temptations to be cruel. Both of them dramatise the tension between private irony and liberal hope. In the following passage, Nabokov helped blur the distinctions which I want to draw: ...'Lolita' has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only in so far as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which very often is topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann. Orwell blurred the same distinctions when, in one of his rare descents into rant, "The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda," he wrote exactly the sort of thing Nabokov loathed: You cannot take a purely aesthetic interest in a disease you are dying from; you cannot feel dispassionately about a man who is about to cut your throat. In a world in which Fascism and Socialism were fighting one another, any thinking person had to take sides... This period of ten years or so in which literature, even poetry was mixed up with pamphleteering, did a great service to literary criticism, because it destroyed the illusion of pure aestheticism... It debunked art for art's sake.
Richard M. Rorty (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity)
There exist few things more tedious than a discussion of general ideas inflicted by author or reader upon a work of fiction. The purpose of this foreword is not to show that "Bend Sinister" belongs or does not belong to "serious literature" (which is a euphemism for the hollow profundity and the ever-welcome commonplace). I have never been interested in what is called the literature of social comment (in journalistic and commercial parlance: "great books"). I am not "sincere," I am not "provocative," I am not "satirical." I am neither a didacticist nor an allegorizer. Politics and economics, atomic bombs, primitive and abstract art forms, the entire Orient, symptoms of "thaw" in Soviet Russia, the Future of Mankind, and so on, leave me supremely indifferent. As in the case of my "Invitation to a Beheading" - with which this book has obvious affinities - automatic comparisons between "Bend Sinister" and Kafka's creations or Orwell's cliches would go merely to prove that the automaton could not have read either the great German writer or the mediocre English one.
Vladimir Nabokov
I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue.
George Orwell (All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays)
If Gissing is less compassionately observant than Mrs Gaskell, less overtly polemical than Kingsley, still The Nether World and Demos would be sympathetically endorsed by either of them, or by their typical readers. Yet Gissing does introduce an important new element, and one that remains significant. He has often been called ‘the spokesman of despair,’ and this is true in both meanings of the phrase. Like Kingsley and Mrs Gaskell, he writes to describe the true conditions of the poor, and to protest against those brute forces of society which fill with wreck the abysses of the nether world. Yet he is also the spokesman of another kind of despair: the despair born of social and political disillusion. In this he is a figure exactly like Orwell in our own day, and for much the same reason. Whether one calls this honesty or not will depend on experience.
Raymond Williams
In college I read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which contains this thrilling declaration: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”23 We seem to have gone, in one generation, from the bracing atmosphere of Mill’s On Liberty to the dark, dank atmosphere of Orwell’s 1984.
Dinesh D'Souza (United States of Socialism: Who's Behind It. Why It's Evil. How to Stop It.)
In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modem talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except 'Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it'? Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
As every close observer of the deadlocks arising from the political correctness knows, the separation of legal justice from moral Goodness –which should be relativized and historicized- ends up in an oppressive moralism brimming with resentment. Without any “organic” social substance grounding the standards of what Orwell approvingly called “common decency” (all such standards having been dismissed as subordinating individual freedoms to proto-Fascist social forms), the minimalist program of laws intended simply to prevent individuals from encroaching upon one another (annoying or “harassing” each other) turns into an explosion of legal and moral rules, an endless process (a “spurious infinity” in Hegel’s sense) of legalization and moralization, known as “the fight against all forms of discrimination.” If there are no shared mores in place to influence the law, only the basic fact of subjects “harassing other subjects, who-in the absence of mores- is to decide what counts as “harassment”? In France, there are associations of obese people demanding all the public campaigns against obesity and in favor of healthy eating be stopped, since they damage the self-esteem of obese persons. The militants of Veggie Pride condemn the speciesism” of meat-eaters (who discriminate against animals, privileging the human animal-for them, a particularly disgusting form of “fascism”) and demand that “vegeto-phobia” should be treated as a kind of xenophobia and proclaimed a crime. And we could extend the list to include those fighting for the right of incest marriage, consensual murder, cannibalism . . . The problem here is the obvious arbitrariness of the ever-new rule. Take child sexuality, for example: one could argue that its criminalization is an unwarranted discrimination, but one could also argue that children should be protected from sexual molestation by adults. And we could go on: the same people who advocate the legalization of soft drugs usually support the prohibition of smoking in public places; the same people who protest the patriarchal abuse of small children in our societies worry when someone condemns a member of certain minority cultures for doing exactly this (say, the Roma preventing their children from attending public schools), claiming that this is a case od meddling with other “ways of life”. It is thus for necessary structural reasons that the “fight against discrimination” is an endless process which interminably postpones its final point: namely a society freed from all moral prejudices which, as Michea puts it, “would be on this very account a society condemned to see crimes everywhere.
Slavoj Žižek (Living in the End Times)
Meanwhile the thinking person, by intellect usually left-wing but by temperament often right-wing, hovers at the gate of the Socialist fold. He is no doubt aware that he ought to be a Socialist. But he observes first the dullness of individual Socialists, then the apparent flabbiness of Socialist ideals, and veers away. Till quite recently it was natural to veer towards indinerentism. Ten years ago, even five years ago, the typical literary gent wrote books on baroque architecture and had a soul above politics. But that attitude is becoming difficult and even unfashionable. The times are growing harsher, the issues are clearer, the belief that nothing will ever change (i.e. that your dividends will always be safe) is less prevalent. The fence on which the literary gent sits, once as comfortable as the plush cushion of a cathedral-stall, is now pinching his bottom intolerably; more and more he shows a disposition to drop off on one side or the other. It is interesting to notice how many of our leading writers, who a dozen years ago were art for art's saking for all they were worth and would have considered it too vulgar for words to even vote at a general election, are now taking a definite political standpoint; while most of the younger writers, at least those of them who are not mere footlers, have been 'political' from the start. I believe that when the pinch comes there is a terrible danger that the main movement of the intelligentsia will be towards Fascism. . . . That will also be the moment when every person with any brains or decency will know in his bones that he ought to be on the Socialist side. But he will not necessarily come there of his own accord; there are too many ancient prejudices standing in the way. He will have to be persuaded, and by methods that imply an understanding of his viewpoint. Socialists cannot afford to waste any more time in preaching to the converted. Their job now is to make Socialists as rapidly as possible; instead of which, all too often, they are making Fascists.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
Today, reading his reactions to events in the war and the immediate years after the war, my first thought is: '0 how I wish Orwell were still alive, so that I could read his comments on contemporary events.' For example, last year, our mutual friend, Geoffrey Gorer, sent out a questionnaire, asking people to identify their social class—I think he gave them about five options. Almost all his respondents, he tells me, identified themselves correctly. What would he say to that? What would he say about hippie communes, student demonstrations, drugs, trades unions? Would he still be as hopeful about the social benefits of nationalised industries? Would he still call for a higher birth-rate? What he would say, I have no idea : I am only certain that he would be worth listening to.
W.H. Auden
Little in his brief life was lost on him; there are premonitions of Nineteen Eighty-Four even in his memoir of schooldays ‘Such, Such Were the Joys’. Experiences in the colonies and the BBC can be seen to have furnished raw materials; so indeed can his reading of Evgeny Zamyatin’s We and other dystopian literature from the early days of Stalinism. But the transcendent or crystallising moment undoubtedly occurred in Spain, or at any rate in Catalonia. This was where Orwell suffered the premonitory pangs of a man living under a police regime: a police regime ruling in the name of socialism and the people. For a Westerner, at least, this epiphany was a relatively novel thing; it brushed the sleeves of many thoughtful and humane people, who barely allowed it to interrupt their preoccupation with the ‘main enemy’, fascism. But on Orwell it made a permanent impression.
Christopher Hitchens
It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags and with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there were being systematically demolished by gangs of workmen. Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized; even the bootblacks had been collectivized and their boxes painted red and black. Waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said 'Señor' or 'Don' or even 'Usted'; everyone called everyone else 'Comrade' or 'Thou', and said 'Salud!' instead of 'Buenos días'. Tipping had been forbidden by law since the time of Primo de Rivera; almost my first experience was receiving a lecture from a hotel manager for trying to tip a lift-boy. There were no private motor-cars, they had all been commandeered, and the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black. The revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in clean reds and blues that made the few remaining advertisements look like daubs of mud. Down the Ramblas, the wide central artery of the town where crowds of people streamed constantly to and from, the loud-speakers were bellowing revolutionary songs all day and far into the night. And it was the aspect of the crowds that was the queerest thing of all. In outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no 'well-dressed' people at all. Practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes, or blue overalls or some variant of militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was much in this that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for...so far as one could judge the people were contented and hopeful. There was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gypsies. Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
Many political words are similarly abused. The word fascism now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.
George Orwell (Politics and the English Language)
But unfortunately you get no further by merely wishing class-distinctions away. More exactly, it is necessary to wish them away, but your wish has no efficacy unless you grasp what it involves. The fact that has got to be faced is that to abolish class-distinctions means abolishing a part of yourself. Here am I, a typical member of the middle class. It is easy for me to say that I want to get rid of class-distinctions, but nearly everything I think and do is a result of class-distinctions. All my notions –notions of good and evil, of pleasant and unpleasant, of funny and serious, of ugly and beautiful–are essentially middle-class notions; my taste in books and food and clothes, my sense of honour, my table manners, my turns of speech, my accent, even the characteristic movements of my body, are the products of a special kind of upbringing and a special niche about half-way up the social hierarchy.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
Together with all this there was something of the evil atmosphere of war. The town had a gaunt untidy look, roads and buildings were in poor repair, the streets at night were dimly lit for fear of air — raids, the shops were mostly shabby and half-empty. Meat was scarce and milk practically unobtainable, there was a shortage of coal, sugar, and petrol, and a really serious shortage of bread. Even at this period the bread-queues were often hundreds of yards long. Yet so far as one could judge the people were contented and hopeful. There was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gipsies. Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life — snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. — had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ‘proving’ that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life — snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. — had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money — tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
The essential point of the system was social equality between officers and men. Everyone from general to private drew the same pay, ate the same food, wore the same clothes, and mingled on terms of complete equality. If you wanted to slap the general commanding the division on the back and ask him for a cigarette, you could do so, and no one thought it curious. In theory at any rate each militia was a democracy and not a hierarchy. It was understood that orders had to be obeyed, but it was also understood that when you gave an order you gave it as comrade to comrade and not as superior to inferior. There were officers and N.C.O.S. but there was no military rank in the ordinary sense; no titles, no badges, no heel-clicking and saluting. They had attempted to produce within the militias a sort of temporary working model of the classless society. Of course there was no perfect equality, but there was a nearer approach to it than I had ever seen or than I would have thought conceivable in time of war.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but, then, what is work? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course—but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. And as a social type a beggar compares well with scores of others. He is honest compared with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor, amiable compared with a hire-purchase tout—in short, a parasite, but a fairly harmless parasite. He seldom extracts more than a bare living from the community, and, what should justify him according to our ethical ideas, he pays for it over and over in suffering. I do not think there is anything about a beggar that sets him in a different class from other people, or gives most modern men the right to despise him.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
Meanwhile one can observe on every side that dreary phenomenon, the middle-class person who is an ardent Socialist at twenty-five and a sniffish Conservative at thirty-five. In a way his recoil is natural enough–at any rate, one can see how his thoughts run. Perhaps a classless society doesn't mean a beatific state of affairs in which we shall all go on behaving exactly as before except that there will be no class-hatred and no snobbishness; perhaps it means a bleak world in which all our ideals, our codes, our tastes–our 'ideology', in fact–will have no meaning. Perhaps this class-breaking business isn't so simple as it looked! On the contrary, it is a wild ride into the darkness, and it may be that at the end of it the smile will be on the face of the tiger. With loving, though slightly patronizing smiles we set out to greet our proletarian brothers, and behold! our proletarian brothers–in so far as we understand them–are not asking for our greetings, they are asking us to commit suicide. When the bourgeois sees it in that form he takes to flight, and if his flight is rapid enough it may carry him to Fascism.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
A slave, Marcus Cato said, should be working when he is not sleeping. It does not matter whether his work in itself is good in itself—for slaves, at least. This sentiment still survives, and it has piled up mountains of useless drudgery. I believe that this instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think. A rich man who happens to be intellectually honest, if he is questioned about the improvement of working conditions, usually says something like this: "We know that poverty is unpleasant; in fact, since it is so remote, we rather enjoy harrowing ourselves with the thought of its unpleasantness. But don’t expect us to do anything about it. We are sorry fort you lower classes, just as we are sorry for a cat with the mange, of your condition. We feel that you are much safer as you are. The present state of affairs suits us, and we are not going to take the risk of setting you free, even by an extra hour a day. So, dear brothers, since evidently you must sweat to pay for our trips to Italy, sweat and be damned to you.” This is particularly the attitude of intelligent, cultivated people; one can read the substance if it in a hundred essays. Very few cultivated people have less than (say) four hundred pounds a year, and naturally they side with the rich, because they imagine that any liberty conceded to the poor is a threat to their own liberty. foreseeing some dismal Marxian Utopia as the alternative, the educated man prefers to keep things as they are. Possibly he does not like his fellow-rich very much, but he supposes that even the vulgarest of them are less inimical to his pleasures, more his kind of people, than the poor, and that he had better stand by them. It is this fear of a supposedly dangerous mob that makes nearly all intelligent people conservative in their opinions. Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothings else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. Change places, and handy dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Everyone who has mixed on equal terms with the poor knows this quite well. But the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty? In my copy of Villon’s poems the editor has actually thought it necessary to explain the line “Ne pain ne voyent qu'aux fenestres” by a footnote; so remote is even hunger from the educated man’s experience. From this ignorance a superstitious fear of the mob results quite naturally. The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day’s liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. “Anything,” he thinks, “any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
The capitalist-imperialist governments, even though they themselves are about to be plundered, will not fight with any conviction against Fascism as such. Our rulers, those of them who understand the issue, would probably prefer to hand over every square inch of the British Empire to Italy, Germany, and Japan than to see Socialism triumphant. It was easy to laugh at Fascism when we imagined that it was based on hysterical nationalism, because it seemed obvious that the Fascist states, each regarding itself as the chosen people and patriotic contra mundum, would clash with one another. But nothing of the kind is happening. Fascism is now an international movement, which means not only that the Fascist nations can combine for the purposes of loot, but that they are groping, perhaps only half consciously as yet, toward a world-system. For the vision of the totalitarian state there is being substituted the vision of the totalitarian world. As I pointed out earlier, the advance of machine-technique must lead ultimately to some form of collectivism, but that form need not necessarily be equalitarian; that is, it need not be Socialism. Pace the economists, it is quite possible to imagine a world-society, economically collectivist–that is, with the profit principle eliminated–but will all political, military, and educational power in the hands of a small caste of rulers and their bravos. That or something like it is the objective of Fascism. And that, of course, is the slave-state, or rather the slave-world; it would probably be a stable form of society, and the chances are, considering the enormous wealth of the world if scientifically exploited, that the slaves would be well-fed and contented.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
There is only one historical development that has real significance. Today, when we finally realise that the keys to happiness are in the hands of our biochemical system, we can stop wasting our time on politics and social reforms, putsches and ideologies, and focus instead on the only thing that can make us truly happy: manipulating our biochemistry. If we invest billions in understanding our brain chemistry and developing appropriate treatments, we can make people far happier than ever before, without any need of revolutions. Prozac, for example, does not change regimes, but by raising serotonin levels it lifts people out of their depression. Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.1 In Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, published in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, happiness is the supreme value and psychiatric drugs replace the police and the ballot as the foundation of politics. Every day, each person takes a dose of ‘soma’, a synthetic drug which makes people happy without harming their productivity and efficiency. The World State that governs the entire globe is never threatened by wars, revolutions, strikes or demonstrations, because all people are supremely content with their current conditions, whatever they may be. Huxley’s vision of the future is far more troubling than George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley’s world seems monstrous to most readers, but it is hard to explain why. Everybody is happy all the time – what could be wrong with that?
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Williams, having awarded Orwell the title of exile, immediately replaces it with the description ‘vagrant’. A vagrant will, for example, not be reassured or comforted by Williams’s not-very-consoling insistence that '"totalitarian" describes a certain kind of repressive social control, but, also, any real society, any adequate community, is necessarily a totality. To belong to a community is to be a part of a whole, and, necessarily, to accept, while helping to define, its disciplines.’ In other words, Williams is inviting Orwell and all of us to step back inside the whale! Remember your roots, observe the customs of the tribe, recognise your responsibilities. The life of the vagrant or exile is unwholesome, even dangerous or deluded. The warmth of the family and the people is there for you; so is the life of the ‘movement.’ If you must criticize, do so from within and make sure that your criticisms are constructive. This rather peculiar attempt to bring Orwell back into the fold is reinforced by this extraordinary sentence: ‘The principle he chose was socialism, and Homage to Catalonia is still a moving book (quite apart from the political controversy it involves) because it is a record of the most deliberate attempt he ever made to become part of a believing community.’ I leave it to any reader of those pages to find evidence for such a proposition; it is true that Orwell was very moved by the Catalan struggle and by the friends he made in the course of it. But he wasn’t exactly deracinated before he went, and the ‘believing community’ of which, in the aftermath, he formed a part was a community of revolutionary sympathisers who had felt the shared experience of betrayal at the hands of Stalin. And of Stalin’s ‘community’, at that epoch, Williams formed an organic part. Nor, by the time he wrote Culture and Society, had he entirely separated from it.
Christopher Hitchens
Jones, along with the US military attaché in Indonesia, took Subandrio’s advice. He emphasized to Washington that the United States should support the Indonesian military as a more effective, long-term anticommunist strategy. The country of Indonesia couldn’t be simply broken into pieces to slow down the advance of global socialism, so this was a way that the US could work within existing conditions. This strategic shift would begin soon, and would prove very fruitful. But behind the scenes, the CIA boys dreamed up wild schemes. On the softer side, a CIA front called the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which funded literary magazines and fine arts around the world, published and distributed books in Indonesia, such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm and the famous anticommunist collection The God That Failed.33 And the CIA discussed simply murdering Sukarno. The Agency went so far as to identify the “asset” who would kill him, according to Richard M. Bissell, Wisner’s successor as deputy director for plans.34 Instead, the CIA hired pornographic actors, including a very rough Sukarno look-alike, and produced an adult film in a bizarre attempt to destroy his reputation. The Agency boys knew that Sukarno routinely engaged in extramarital affairs. But everyone in Indonesia also knew it. Indonesian elites didn’t shy away from Sukarno’s activities the way the Washington press corps protected philanderers like JFK. Some of Sukarno’s supporters viewed his promiscuity as a sign of his power and masculinity. Others, like Sumiyati and members of the Gerwani Women’s Movement, viewed it as an embarrassing defect. But the CIA thought this was their big chance to expose him. So they got a Hollywood film crew together.35 They wanted to spread the rumor that Sukarno had slept with a beautiful blond flight attendant who worked for the KGB, and was therefore both immoral and compromised. To play the president, the filmmakers (that is, Bing Crosby and his brother Larry) hired a “Hispanic-looking” actor, and put him in heavy makeup to make him look a little more Indonesian. They also wanted him bald, since exposing Sukarno—who always wore a hat—as such might further embarrass him. The idea was to destroy the genuine affection that young Sakono, and Francisca, and millions of other Indonesians, felt for the Founding Father of their country. The thing was never released—not because this was immoral or a bad idea, but because the team couldn’t put together a convincing enough film.36
Vincent Bevins (The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World)
Like all man who have lived much alone, he adjusted himself better to ideas than to people.
George Orwell (Burmese Days)
There are a breathtaking number of people whose profiles and posts are public and can be viewed by anyone. George Orwell was wrong, she thinks. In the future, it won’t be the state that keeps tabs on everyone by extensive use of surveillance; it will be the people. They’ll do the state’s work for it by constantly uploading their locations, interests, food preferences, restaurant choices, political ideas, and hobbies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. We are our own secret police. Some people, she discovers, helpfully update their Facebook and Instagram feeds every few minutes, giving potential kidnappers or burglars intimate temporal and geographic information on their whereabouts.
Adrian McKinty (The Chain)
Only the Nazis were positioned to be all things to all men and women. They made an appeal that reached beyond narrow economic interests and narrow religious interests. The base of their support may have been among Germany’s small-town middle-class Protestants, but they also won important backing in the cities with Catholics and blue-collar workers. As more research is done on Nazi support, the wider and more diverse that support appears to have been. Indeed, anyone who had lost patience with traditional politics and was looking for a new direction was a potential Nazi. They were the “catchall party of protest,” calling for people to put aside social divisions and class differences for the sake of a larger ideal, the nation, the Volk. The message had enormous appeal to any unaffiliated (and non-Jewish) voter, and to students and the young, who provided the party with its bustling energy, it was a political elixir. There were no more enthusiastic Nazis than the idealistic young. Across the English Channel, George Orwell may have disliked what he saw, but he understood its power. Hitler, he said, “grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life.” The Nazis knew that “human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short-working hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty parades.” Or as one anti-Nazi German journalist wrote, “Hitler was able to enslave his own people because he seemed to give them something that even the traditional religions could no longer provide: the belief in a meaning to existence beyond the narrowest self-interest.
Barry Gewen (The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World)
The Nazis’ greatest rivals, the Social Democrats, offered none of that. Instead, their worldview—with its promise of what Orwell called “comfort, safety, short-working hours”—only restricted their popular appeal. A perennial problem of democracy was finding a way to enable voters to combine their self-interest with some overarching notion of the public good. Not even America’s Founding Fathers really had a solution to the conflict: their answer, drawn from their readings in classical antiquity, was to put their faith in a gentlemanly elite inspired by the Roman ideals of integrity, virtue, and disinterestedness, a “natural aristocracy” in Jefferson’s words, or the kind of leaders Madison called “proper guardians of the public weal.” But even if it became clear how to determine who these natural aristocrats and proper guardians were, the larger issue was how to persuade the mass of voters to elect them.
Barry Gewen (The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World)
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? GEORGE ORWELL, “POLITICS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Guy Kawasaki (The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users)
Nem é preciso dizer que os praticantes mais sutis do duplipensamento são aqueles que inventaram o duplipensamento e sabem que ele é um vasto sistema de logro mental. Em nossa sociedade, aqueles que estão mais informados sobre o que ocorre são também os que estão mais longe de ver o mundo como ele é. Em geral, quanto maior a compreensão, maior o engodo; quanto maior a inteligência, maior a sanidade mental. Uma ilustração clara disso é o fato de que a histeria de guerra ganha intensidade a medida que o cidadão sobe na escala social. Aqueles cuja atitude em relação à guerra é preponderantemente racional são os povos dominados dos territórios em disputa. Para essas pessoas, a guerra nada mais é que uma calamidade contínua que passa e volta sobre seus corpos como a água das marés. Para eles, não tem a menor importância saber qual dos lados está ganhando. Sabem que uma alteração da supremacia significa apenas que continuarão desempenhanndo as mesmas tarefas de antes para novos senhores, que hão de tratá-los exatamente como eram tratados.
George Orwell (1984)
Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason. It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.
George Orwell (1984)
before you can be sure whether you are genuinely in favour of Socialism, you have got to decide whether things at present are tolerable or not tolerable, and you have got to take up a definite attitude on the terribly difficult issue of class.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
Perhaps the aim of Socialism is not to make the world perfect but to make it better.
George Orwell (Essays)
I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life — snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. — had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money — tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ‘proving’ that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the ‘mystique’ of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all. And it was here that those few months in the militia were valuable to me. For the Spanish militias, while they lasted, were a sort of microcosm of a classless society. In that community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything but no privilege and no boot-licking, one got, perhaps, a crude forecast of what the opening stages of Socialism might be like. And, after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. The effect was to make my desire to see Socialism established much more actual than it had been before. Partly, perhaps, this was due to the good luck of being among Spaniards, who, with their innate decency and their ever-present Anarchist tinge, would make even the opening stages of Socialism tolerable if they had the chance.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenants of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous, outrageous upon morality and common sense. Actually, the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship or the semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare. It follows that three super states not only cannot conquer one another but would gain no advantage by doing so. On the contrary, so long as they remain in conflict they prop one another up like three sheaves of corn, and as usual, the ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing. Their lives are dedicated to world conquest but they also know that it is necessary that the war should continue everlastingly and without victory.
George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984))
The socialism that soon afterward became so attractive to me as an alternative proved equally insubstantial; with time, I came to understand, through the great George Orwell, that much of such thinking found its motivation in hatred of the rich and successful, instead of true regard for the poor.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
#MOFA = Make Orwell Fiction Again
A.E. Samaan
I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragón one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life—snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.—had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.
George Orwell
The crisis of history in France, is a crisis of social bond, a crisis of citizenship. A citizen is the heir of a past more or less mythified, but he makes his own, whatever his personal genealogy. Today, under the pretext that the country has undergone considerable changes, some would like to transform the past in order to adopt it to the new face of France. Nothing, however, will make the past anything other than what it was. To pretend to change history is a totalitarian project: One who has control of the past has control over the future, one who has control over the present has control over the past, as George Orwell wrote in 1984.
Jean Sévillia (Historiquement incorrect)
Unfortunately it is nowadays the fashion to pretend that the glass is penetrable. Of course everyone knows that class-prejudice exists, but at the same time everyone claims that he, in some mysterious way, is exempt from it. Snob-bishness is one of those vices which we can discern in every- one else but' never in ourselves. Not only the croyant et pratiquant Socialist, but every 'intellectual' takes it as a matter of course that he at least is outside the class-racket; he, unlike his neighbours, can see through the absurdity of wealth, ranks, titles, etc., etc. 'I'm not a snob' is nowadays a kind of universal credo. Who is there who has not jeered at the House of Lords, the military caste, the Royal Family, the public schools, the huntin' and shootin' people, the old ladies in Cheltenham boarding-houses, the horrors of 'county' society, and the social hierarchy generally? To do so has become an automatic gesture.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
Under this lies a fact never mentioned aloud, but tacitly understood and acted upon: namely, that the conditions of life in all three super-states are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all.
George Orwell (1984 (Classics To Go))
Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this is the name of Socialism.
George Orwell (1984)
When I talked about World War II, I only really knew about the Holocaust, Japanese internment, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and was certain that they were all equally bad. I could interrogate someone else’s privilege like a Spanish Inquisitor, but wash my hands of my own like Pontius Pilate. I knew exactly which side of the classroom I belonged in when the teacher of my social justice class (yes, this is a thing) divided us into “privileged” vs. “underprivileged” categories in twelfth grade. And perhaps most revealingly, I’d never had to read George Orwell’s 1984. He’d been shelved to make room for a local writer’s story of a poor Indian boy by the time I showed up. I realize now how poisonously deliberate this last omission was. Because in retrospect, what I was really being taught, more than this junk diet of useless knowledge, was a classic instance of what Orwell himself famously described as doublethink. That is, the act of believing two mutually exclusive things at once. In my case, I was being taught to believe that, first, I was special, unique, important, and great beyond words; second, that I was completely equal to everyone, which is to say average and mediocre. I was taught that diversity is unity. That to regress is to progress. That bullying was Hitler. That George W. Bush was doubleHitler. That British colonizers of Canada were doubleplusHitler. That we have always been at war with Hitler, however defined.
Lauren Southern (Barbarians: How The Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed my Generation)
George Orwell introduced the dictator Big Brother in his novel 1984, as I’m sure you know. The book was an allegorical treatment of Stalinism, of course. And ever since then, the term ‘Big Brother’ has functioned as a social icon. That was Orwell’s great accomplishment. But now, in the real year 1984, Big Brother is all too famous, and all too obvious. If Big Brother were to appear before us now, we’d point to him and say, ‘Watch out! He’s Big Brother!’ There’s no longer any place for a Big Brother in this real world of ours. Instead, these so-called Little People have come on the scene. Interesting verbal contrast, don’t you think?
Haruki Murakami (1Q84)
Under this lies a fact never mentioned aloud, but tacitly understood and acted upon: namely, that the conditions of life in all three superstates are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare. It follows that the three superstates not only cannot conquer one another, but would gain no advantage by doing so. On the contrary, so long as they remain in conflict they prop one another up, like three sheaves of corn. And, as usual, the ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing. Their lives are dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it is necessary that
George Orwell (1984)
[Fascism is] psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life…Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet…We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
George Orwell
Now, it may be objected that Orwell was no Borges, that Nineteen Eighty-Four is no postmodern literary experiment, and that I am considering the Appendix too curiously. Perhaps the Newspeak essay should be seen simply as a parody 'presented in the form of a mock-survey, scientific and historical, of the language of Oceania,' whose purpose is to illustrate 'how a totalitarian oligarchy uses the rational tools of science as the instrument of power.' Or perhaps the problem I have identified could be explained as one more manifestation of 'the generic contradiction between naturalism and satire that is the basic formal determinant of the book.' Furthermore, it is pointless to second-guess an author; there are commonsense explanations for Orwell's decision to place the Newspeak essay in an Appendix, and for his failure to identify precisely the essay's author; the incongruities between the Appendix and the novel proper do not reduce the political urgency of the total work; it is a mistake to come to Nineteen Eighty-Four with expectations derived from more conventional novels; paradoxes are the stuff of futuristic stories; readers have a duty to suspend their disbelief; even Homer nods. But, if it was unlike Orwell to lure us deliberately into a hall of mirrors, he certainly did not lack ingenuity. And, even if he encountered difficulties he was unable to solve, his imperfect solutions were consonant with the plan to convey a world deprived of 'objective truth.' Even though his handling of the Appendix may have had unforeseen consequences for the book as a whole, the confusion raised by the document nevertheless 'works.' The footnote's implied promise of verification is hollow, and the reader's attempts to determine the 'objective truth' about Oceania—its social and political structure, its language, its fate—are frustrated. By trying to reconcile the novel and the Appendix, we experience for ourselves—'outside' the novel, as it were—what it might be like to inhabit a world in which the authenticity (never mind the accuracy or objectivity) of all documents is in doubt, in which documents are almost dreamlike, unfixed in time, infused with self-contradiction, at once recognisable and cryptic. Those who keep a checklist of Orwell's 'prophecies' may credit him with anticipating and dramatising the age of 'disinformation.
Richard K. Sanderson
The truthfulness of 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism' is in doubt largely because of uncertainty about its authorship, and, as we have seen, a nearly identical ambiguity surrounds the Appendix. The parallel is significant. Two psychologically oriented critics, Murray Sperber and J. Brooks Bouson, have each pointed out strong resemblances between O'Brien's manipulation of Winston and Orwell's manipulation of the reader. I believe these resemblances extend to the book's handling of its two principal documents. Just as O'Brien plays upon Winston's desire for certain knowledge about Oceania's social and political structure, leading him on with the possibly spurious 'Goldstein' tract, so the story's narrator draws the truth-seeking reader into an Appendix whose truth value cannot be determined.
Richard K. Sanderson
But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned. The
George Orwell (1984)
One 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.
Thomas E. Ricks (Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom)
But unfortunately you get no further by merely wishing class-distinctions away. More exactly, it is necessary to wish them away, but your wish has no efficacy unless you grasp what it involves. The fact that has got to be faced is that to abolish class-distinctions means abolishing a part of yourself. Here am I, a typical member of the middle class. It is easy for me to say that I want to get rid of class-distinctions, but nearly everything I think and do is a result of class-distinctions. All my notions –notions of good and evil, of pleasant and unpleasant, of funny and serious, of ugly and beautiful–are essentially middle-class notions; my taste in books and food and clothes, my sense of honour, my table manners, my turns of speech, my accent, even the characteristic movements of my body, are the products of a special kind of upbringing and a special niche about half-way up the social hierarchy.
George Orwell
Toda pessoa de classe média tem um preconceito de classe adormecido que só precisa de qualquer coisinha para despertar; e, se tiver mais de quarenta anos, provavelmente tem a firme convicção de que sua classe social foi sacrificada em prol da classe mais abaixo.
George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier)
CRITICAL OVERVIEW POLITICAL MEANING The political message of Animal Farm is inspired by the events of the Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution (1917–21), when Russian peasants overthrew the monarchy in favor of socialism, a political system in which land, business, property, and capital are owned by the community as a whole. In Animal Farm, Orwell (a Socialist) shows the animals’ efforts to overthrow human dictatorship and to establish a socialist community in which everyone contributes to the common gain. During the course of the novel, Napoleon takes control, moves socialism in the direction of communism (Stalinism), a political system in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a “totalitarian” state (dictatorship) dominated by a single political group or party that keeps itself in power. Orwell’s intent in writing this fable was to destroy the Soviet (communist) myth of the perfect society and to restore genuine socialist principles. He wanted to show how the original intentions of revolution have all too often been corrupted and perverted by one person or group who, for selfish reasons, seizes power, exploits people, and eliminates all opposition.
W. John Campbell (The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics)
Like first love — or heartbreak — the first government you learn to know stays with you.
Alex Woloch (Or Orwell)
Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason. It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty.
George Orwell (Animal Farm and 1984)
Socialism, a theory which appeared in the early nineteenth century and was the last link in a chain of thought stretching back to the slave rebellions of antiquity, was still deeply infected by the Utopianism of past ages. But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned. The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc in Oceania, Neo-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-worship, as it is commonly called, in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating unfreedom and inequality. These new movements, of course, grew out of the old ones and tended to keep their names and pay lip-service to their ideology. But the purpose of all of them was to arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment. The familiar pendulum swing was to happen once more, and then stop. As usual, the High were to be turned out by the Middle, who would then become the High; but this time, by conscious strategy, the High would be able to maintain their position permanently.
George Orwell (Animal Farm and 1984)
What is an Indian?", asked Commissioner Thomas Morgan two years after the Wounded Knee massacre. And his answer, "blood and land". He was right, but not in a way he understood. If the U.S. army and government had spent more in the ruthless elimination of the tribes, root and branch, as Sherman hoped, then strangled off their resources as Congress wanted, the "Indian problem" would have been solved. But nothing is straightforward in American history, not even ruthlessness and the nation's better angels prevented total genocide. Their hearts were right but their methods were mad. To save the Indian, they reasoned, they must kill the Indian inside. Thus began decades of social engineering rivaling the darkest visions of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. The reservation was the laboratory where new and often contradictory policies were introduced and tested much like those classic social experiments where lab rats are shocked and rewarded but always randomly. Each era had its own philosophy. Assimilation, reeducation, christianization and termination of the tribes. Yet the purpose of each was similar. Strip the Indian of his "Indian-ness", then reshape him as an idealized american, stamped and milled as if in a machine. It is easy to see why the young rebels of AIM felt such loathing for the BIA and Washington. In the parlance of the counter-culture, they saw it as "the machine". How does one survive in such a world? The machine is overwhelming and unstoppable, larger than any one woman or man. Black Elk saw it early, though he never used such dystopian terms. Perhaps the only true defense is the most intimate, preservation of one's soul. Seen that way, his life is more than just another tale of Indian vs. white, it becomes instead a parable of modern man.
Joe Jackson
Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all.
George Orwell
He did not believe he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before 1960, but it was possible that in its Oldspeak form—‘English Socialism’,
George Orwell (1984)
But sharing the wealth threatened power-hungry elites in every nation, and these reactionaries blocked society’s natural progress toward humane socialism. Capitalist societies became fascist; socialist ones became communist.
Peter Huber (Orwell's Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest)
Some people played video games or watched sports; Ray invented a new platform from which a company like Logos could interface with its strategic partners and their would-be customers. He sought to utilize the Orwellian nature of social media and invent a profitable new method of corporation-consumer interactivity. He decided on vandalism.
Andrew Ervin (Burning Down George Orwell's House)
I have come to think that boredom is the worst of all a tramp's evils, worse than hunger and discomfort, worse even than the constant feeling of being socially disgraced.
George Orwell (George Orwell Premium Collection: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) - Animal Farm - Burmese Days - Keep the Aspidistra Flying - Homage to Catalonia - The Road to Wigan Pier and Over 50 Amazing Novels, Non-Fiction Books and Essays)
He tried to remember in what year he had first heard mention of Big Brother. He thought it must have been at some time in the sixties, but it was impossible to be certain. In the Party histories, of course, Big Brother figured as the leader and guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days. His exploits had been gradually pushed backwards in time until already they extended into the fabulous world of the forties and the thirties, when the capitalists in their strange cylindrical hats still rode through the streets of London in great gleaming motor-cars or horse carriages with glass sides. There was no knowing how much of this legend was true and how much invented. Winston could not even remember at what date the Party itself had come into existence. He did not believe he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before 1960, but it was possible that in its Oldspeak form—'English Socialism', that is to say—it had been current earlier. Everything melted into mist. Sometimes, indeed, you could put your finger on a definite lie. It was not true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that the Party had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing.
George Orwell (1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Animal Farm, and over 40 Other Works by George Orwell)
Orwell was wrong. You don’t need repression. You need only the sensory overload of an age of numbingly ephemeral social media.
Charles Krauthammer
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell
Phil Cooke (Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media)
In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another. By the standards of the early twentieth century, even a member of the Inner Party lives an austere, laborious kind of life. Nevertheless, the few luxuries that he does enjoy – his large well-appointed flat, the better texture of his clothes, the better quality of his food and drink and tobacco, his two or three servants, his private motor-car or helicopter – set him in a different world from a member of the Outer Party, and the members of the Outer Party have a similar advantage in comparison with the submerged masses whom we call ‘the proles’. The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival. War,
George Orwell (1984)
Deep State”—the Invisible Government The terms “invisible government,” “shadow government,” and more recently “Deep State” have been used to describe the secretive, occult, and international banking and business families that control financial institutions, both political parties, and cabals within various intelligence agencies in Britain and America. Edward L. Bernays, a pioneer in the field of propaganda, spoke of the “invisible government” as the “true ruling power of our country.” He said, “We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”40 “The political process of the United States of America [is] under attack by intelligence agencies and individuals in those agencies,” U.S. representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said. “You have politicization of agencies that is resulting in leaks from anonymous, unknown people, and the intention is to take down a president. Now, this is very dangerous to America. It’s a threat to our republic; it constitutes a clear and present danger to our way of life.”41 Emotional Contagion One of the reasons why the Deep State has been able to hide in plain sight is because it controls the mainstream media in the United States. Despite the growing evidence of its existence, the media largely denies this reality. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, wrote an article titled, “There Is No Deep State: The Problem in Washington Is Not a Conspiracy Against the President; It’s the President Himself.” Like the “thought police” in George Orwell’s 1984—a classic book about a dystopian future where critical thought is suppressed by a totalitarian regime—the Deep State uses the media to program the population according to the dictates of Big Brother and tell people in effect that “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” and “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”42 Many of the largest social media platforms are used by the Deep State for surveillance and to influence the masses. Many people think social media is just for personal fun and networking with friends, family, and business associates. However, this innocent activity enables powerful computer networks to create detailed profiles of people’s political and moral beliefs and buying habits, as well as a deep analysis of their psychological conflicts, emotional problems, and pretty much anything Big Brother wants to know. Most people don’t understand the true extent of surveillance now occurring. For at least a decade, digital flat-screen televisions, cell phones and smartphones, laptop computers, and most devices with a camera and microphone could be used to spy on you without your knowledge. Even if the power on one of these devices was off, you could still be recorded by supercomputers collecting “mega-data” for potential use later. These technologies are also used to transform
Paul McGuire (Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon)
But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned.
George Orwell (1984)
It had always been assumed that if the capitalist class were expropriated, Socialism must follow; and unquestionably the capitalists had been expropriated. Factories, mines, land, houses, transport—everything had been taken away from them; and since these things were no longer private property, it followed that they must be public property.
George Orwell (1984)
There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life–snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.–had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ’comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ’proving’ that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the ’mystique’ of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia / Down and Out in Paris and London)
Social media has absolutely nothing to do with the truth. It has to do with making shitloads of money off ads trying to sell people crap they don’t need. But the terrible by-product of that is giving a global platform to the absolute worst elements of society. The result is that ‘truth’ is whatever you can convince people it is. It’s exactly what Orwell wrote about.” “How does this country survive, then?
David Baldacci (Daylight (Atlee Pine, #3))
Social media has absolutely nothing to do with the truth. It has to do with making shitloads of money off ads trying to sell people crap they don't need. But the terrible by-product of that is giving a global platform to the absolute worst elements of society. The result is that 'truth' is whatever you can convince people it is. It's exactly what Orwell wrote about.
David Baldacci
Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it.
George Orwell
Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism.
George Orwell (1984)
Orwell was right. It was Wells who made it respectable, even before World War I, for liberals in England and America to demean their own native democratic culture in the name of an imagined antidemocratic World State. And it was Wells, with his stature as the prophet of the future, who taught upper-middle-class liberals that they were entitled to govern in the name of social evolution. *
Fred Siegel (The Crisis of Liberalism: Prelude to Trump)
While he was still president-elect in January 2017, Trump seized on the term “fake news”—which was coined by reporters and researchers to describe made-up stories on social media—and co-opted it as a bludgeon, a diversion, and a punchline. “Fake news” meant Russian propaganda and clickbait, but for his base Trump defined it as “news you shouldn’t believe.” It was probably the most important thing he did during the presidential transition period. Turning “fake news” into a slur fit perfectly into Trump’s permanent campaign of disbelief, as best conveyed by his 2018 statement that “what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.” He suggested with disturbing regularity that everything could be a hoax. It was straight out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.
Brian Stelter (Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth)
It is a disagreeable thing when one’s close friend is not one’s social equal; but it is a thing native to the very air of India.
George Orwell (Burmese Days)