George Orwell, the prophet of political correctness, does not belong to the Left

  • 0 Replies

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Offline the leveller

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • 4128
  • +75/-0

George Orwell, the prophet of political correctness, does not belong to the Left

By Ed West Politics: August 23rd, 2012

George Orwell: of the Left, but a hero to modern conservatives
As Nick Cohen once cheerily pointed out, most journalists? work dies with them. One of the few modern exceptions is George Orwell, whose star has continued to rise since his death from TB in 1950, and whose essays and articles continue to be sold and read.

Today the author of Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier remains not just the foremost chronicler of the great ideological battles of the early 20th century, but a sort of conscience for British journalism.

So one would have thought that there would be little objection to a sculpture of Orwell at Broadcasting House, where he had worked during the Second World War, especially as the money has been raised privately. And yet the BBC has blocked a statue of Orwell on the grounds that he was too ?Left-wing?.

It?s understandable that the corporation should be sensitive about the subject, especially considering the criticism it attracts in this paper. Yet is Orwell confined to the Left?

Certainly Orwell was on the Left throughout his life, and the hard Left before his experience of Communists in Spain moved him towards more moderate socialism. Yet although Orwell?s essays are among the best things he did, he has become chiefly best remembered for his last two works, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the latter in particular has become one of the most conservative books in history.

Nineteen Eighty-Four described a nightmarish, Soviet-style future heavily influenced both by Stalin's Russia and his own experience of living in austere wartime Britain (his time at Broadcasting House inspired the Ministry of Truth and Room 101). The more obviously totalitarian aspects of the book are continually evoked as technology has made Orwell's world seem more real ? "the Big Brother state" ? although the counter-argument is that intrusive technology is now in the hands of private individuals, not just the state (as poor Prince Harry is well aware of).

But far more importantly Orwell came to accurately foresee the prevailing mode of thinking, a set of ideas that is generally called ?political correctness?. PC, for want of a better expression, describes a set of acceptable beliefs, outside of which it is not permitted to step ? and that has been a very significant development.

Among the various characteristics of political correctness is the branding of dissident thinkers as racists, sexists or homophobes (thoughtcrime) the necessity of holding two contradictory ideas together (doublethink) and attempts to change the language to change politics (Newspeak).

As Orwell wrote in 1984: ?The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.?

One only has to look at how words such as ?elitist? or ?discrimination? have been altered since Orwell?s death to see how changing the meaning of a word can make the terrain of debate very difficult for one side.

All these practices were alive in Orwell?s day, in Soviet Russia, where a more brutal form of correct thinking was imposed, but the essential principle was the same ? ?designed to make lies sound truthful?, as Orwell said. That was the quote used by Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford to describe the process of multiculturalism in action, and in that particular area the state becomes the most Orwellian, from its ?diversity is strength?-style posters to its rewriting of national history, not to mention the disturbing policies that followed the Macpherson report, where teachers were even asked to monitor the language of young infants for thoughtcrime.

That?s why today Orwell, and in particular his final work, is quoted far more by the Right than the Left, and why you?ll find few objections to a statue from conservatives. Perhaps that's not the real reason, and the Beeb are just saving the spot for Antonio Gramsci.

Share this topic...
In a forum
In a site/blog

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk