Sunday, June 25, 2017

George Orwell: "...Politics Itself Is A Mass Of Lies, Evasions, Folly, Hatred And Schizophrenia"

For a prescient and enigmatic writer it is hard to surpass George Orwell. He published these words in his novel 1984 in 1949:

The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists, and professional politicians.

Fifteen years following their publication, Lyndon Johnson embedded the "new aristocracy" in his Great Society program, a national government initiative designed to end in a progressive utopia for the American people. I leave an evaluation of the program's success over the last two generations to my readers. Instead I choose to focus on Orwell who as time passes seems to be more and more a visitor from the future who spoke not in terms of political parties but of the human condition, universal rights, and classical liberalism. 

George Orwell - Eric Arthur Blair - was born on this day in India in 1903 and educated at Eton College and through self-study and his experiences in Asia and Europe. Wikipedia defines him aptly as "an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and commitment to democratic socialism." 

George Orwell Press Photo, 1933

Most of us know him only as the author of 1984 but there is much more to read and appreciate from this man who is consistently described as one of the most influential writers of the last century. If you only know him as a novelist, I suggest you read some of his early essays, especially Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and Homage to Catalonia (1938). These works explore social justice themes in some of the finest, most vivid, objective, and descriptive writing to be found in modern English. For another aspect of Orwell's insight readers should explore his literary criticism, available in several compilations.

For a man who passed away at 46, George Orwell left us an enormous and rich body of work that I am sure will influence social and political thought for a very long time. 


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain, old accreditation for National Branch of Union Journalists,

title quote, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell, 1946
subject entry,

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