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article imageOp-Ed: A left-wing view of George Orwell

By Alexander Baron     Feb 11, 2013 in Politics
George Orwell is rightly regarded as one of the greatest literary figures of the Twentieth Century. Needless to say, not everybody is impressed with his terrible insights into human nature and the threat of the all-controlling state.
A letter published on the Morning Star website yesterday accuses George Orwell of being a secret state shill. According to Graham Noble:
I'm disgusted that people are writing to the Morning Star to defend the "works" of George Orwell.
It is well established that Orwell conspired with the British secret services to undermine the left-wing causes he pretended to espouse...nothing he wrote or did can possibly be of any value.
In Mr Noble's eyes, Orwell was a "treacherous individual". But is this the case, and is it true that he has nothing to tell us?
The impeccably English George Orwell was actually born in Imperial India on June 25, 1903, the son of a British administrator. It is well known that his birth name was Eric Arthur Blair although he does not appear to be related to that other great Blair, Tony. (Just kidding).
Although he was attracted to socialism and even communism he was never a communist and never pretended to be one. Like many young people he was unhappy with the way the world was being run: war, social injustice, poverty...and looked around for a panacea. Orwell also came from a fairly privileged background, and this combined with a social conscience can be a dangerous combination. That champion of the left (and of convicted murderer James Hanratty) Paul Foot was a shining example of this. Unlike Foot and many others though, Orwell was not prepared to subjugate ideology to fact. His experiences in Spain during the Civil War destroyed whatever sympathies he may have had for communism, and although he considered himself a democratic socialist, most Libertarians would not consider him to have been one.
Orwell published a fair number of books in his short life, including one about his time in Spain, but he is best remembered for his two devastating critiques Animal Farm - published in 1945, and Nineteen-Eighty-Four - published in 1949.
The former, which can be read on many levels, is a biting satire on the Bolshevik Revolution; the latter looks not back but forward, but the bottom line is that the enemy is us. Whether they call themselves socialists, communists, fascists, anti-fascists or anything else, there are all manner of people out there who are peddling the same line, who have been from year dot and will be until the end of time. This is that we know better than anyone else how to run the world, the country, or simply your life. All we need in order to do so is power, and you better give it to us, or the sky will fall.
These two books have also gifted a number of phrases to the English language and the world which are appreciated by people at both ends of the political spectrum, those in the centre, and those who have no strong affiliations at all.
Has Mr Noble never heard of Big Brother? No, it is not a reality TV programme. What about newspeak, duckspeak? What about the phrase: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."
And "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past".
What about "Napoleon is always right". And is there anyone anywhere who has not heard the phrase:
Then there is the word Orwellian, which doesn't mean what Orwell stood for, rather what he was against, in particular the animals who are more equal than everyone else who will if we allow them, stamp on our faces forever.
The complete works of George Orwell are now but a click away; there is also a dedicated George Orwell Archive.
One doesn't have to be a fan of Orwell in order to appreciate his message, but we ignore it at our peril.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about George Orwell, 1984, animal farm, Totalitarianism, Big brother
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