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Orwell’s “Catalonia” revisited (The George Orwell Most Forget)
The New Criterion ^ | February 2007 | Anthony Daniels

Posted on 02/05/2007 6:20:39 AM PST by shrinkermd

Dr. Daniels begins predictably witht this:

...Why should Orwell be so desired and desirable, in short so unanswerable, an ally? He is a secular saint, over whose relics everyone squabbles. There are good reasons for this, no doubt. In his essay, Why I Write, published in 1946, Orwell disarmingly tells us that all writers are to some extent egotistical: they desire to seem clever, to be talked about and admired, and to be remembered after their death....

But finally Dr. Daniels points this out:

...But by far the worst aspect of Homage to Catalonia is its strong advocacy of totalitarianism. It is the literary equivalent of an urban myth that the book argues against the Stalinist deformation of socialism, when the very opposite is much nearer the truth. Of course, Orwell does indeed object to the Stalinist resort to lying on an industrial scale, but that is only a minor part of his objection to Stalin’s policy in Spain. His real objection is that Stalin did not want the radical revolution—as exemplified by the destruction of the church, the collectivization of the land, the nationalization of all major industry, the elimination of the bourgeoisie, the prohibition of prostitution and the legal profession, and the complete equalization of wages—to proceed, because he thought that a popular front, in which liberal democrats would be taken into temporary partnership, would be more effective in stopping Franco.

Orwell objected to Stalin’s policy because Stalin maintained that “we can’t afford to alienate the peasants [in Spain] by forcing collectivization upon them,” whereas Orwell thought that the war was lost unless it was turned into a true revolutionary war, which included such forced collectivization.

(Excerpt) Read more at newcriterion.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: anthonydaniels; georgeorwell; orwell; socialist; theodoredalrymple; totalitarian
It might be ancient history for most, but for those, like I, who do make him a "Saint," Orwell surely was a socialist and at one point in his life a devout Marxist.
1 posted on 02/05/2007 6:20:43 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

In much the same way, I guess, Whittaker Chambers was a socialist and devout Marxist before he saw the light. It would be interesting to make a list of disillusioned left-wingers.


2 posted on 02/05/2007 6:24:30 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: agere_contra

John Dos Passos saw the "right"


3 posted on 02/05/2007 6:25:30 AM PST by Puddleglum
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To: shrinkermd

I read Homage to Catalonia about 10 years ago. I remember liking it but now I can't remember a thing about it. I'm getting old!


4 posted on 02/05/2007 6:29:12 AM PST by Tolkien (There are things more important that Peace. Freedom being one of those.)
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To: shrinkermd
I think I'm not the only one who gives Orwell credit for usually trying to find the truth and writing about it. Did he get a lot of things wrong? yes! But his essay 'Politics and the English Language' is more relevant than ever in the Internet age, and he was willing to face the fact that some things he believed in were later found to be wrong. '1984' was a lot more damming of totalitarianism than much of the output of those with supposedly better 'conservative' credentials. Just my .02
5 posted on 02/05/2007 6:29:59 AM PST by RedStateRocker (Nuke Mecca, Deport all illegals, abolish the IRS, ATF and DEA)
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To: sauropod

review


6 posted on 02/05/2007 6:32:07 AM PST by sauropod ( "The View:" A Tupperware party in the 10th circle of Hell.)
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To: Puddleglum

Thanks for that. I'ld never heard of him before.


7 posted on 02/05/2007 6:33:22 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: agere_contra; shrinkermd

And Christopher Hitchens seems to be in transition.


8 posted on 02/05/2007 6:35:04 AM PST by expatpat
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To: shrinkermd
I'm not sure the author really gets it. Orwell recognized something very useful to conservatives:

  1. "Communism" is a fascist ruse, and
  2. The real force behind communism is a fascist (I prefer neo-feudal) aristocracy

Orwell may have been a fool for socialism, but that makes his observations all the more powerful to us, because they can by no means be deemed "reactionary" by the left.

He is a pertinent excerpt from Homage to Catalonia:

In reality, it was the Communists above all others who prevented revolution in Spain. Later, when the Right Wing forces were in full control, the Communists showed themselves willing to go a great deal further than the Liberals in hunting down revolutionary leaders.

[Snip]

Between the Communists and those who claim to stand to the Left of them there is a real difference. The Communists hold that Fascism can be beaten by alliance with sections of the capitalist class (the Popular Front); their opponents hold that this maneuver simply gives Fascism new breeding-grounds. The question has got to be settled; to make the wrong decision may be to land ourselves in for centuries of semi-slavery.


9 posted on 02/05/2007 6:35:57 AM PST by Carry_Okie (Grovelnator Schwarzenkaiser: Making fascism fashionable in Kaleeforia, one charade at a time.)
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To: agere_contra; All
Eric Blair was mugged by reality when, as an insousciant liberal, he went to Spain during the War to impose soviet communisism on the back's of the Spanish people. It was here that he learned the dirty little secret about the left's beloved worker's paradise, the Soviet Union.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

10 posted on 02/05/2007 6:41:53 AM PST by AdvisorB
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To: shrinkermd

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0201111.txt

A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title: Homage to Catalonia (1938)
Author: George Orwell


11 posted on 02/05/2007 6:43:17 AM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran ("Remember the Alamo, Goliad and WACO, It is Time for a new San Jacinto")
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To: Carry_Okie

I'm not sure the author really gets it. Orwell recognized something very useful to conservatives:

"Communism" is a fascist ruse, and
The real force behind communism is a fascist (I prefer neo-feudal) aristocracy

Actually, I prefer Hayek who demonstrated that both communism and fascism are different manifestations of the same collective totalitarianism.

Here's a good thread if you've never encountered Hayek.


http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1775089/posts


12 posted on 02/05/2007 6:55:25 AM PST by DugwayDuke (A patriot will cast their vote in the manner most likely to deny power to democrats.)
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To: shrinkermd
Your high school English teacher's on the warpath, Shrink, and headed your way. I told her you meant "like me"...
13 posted on 02/05/2007 7:12:03 AM PST by Savage Beast ("Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.")
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To: shrinkermd

"It might be ancient history for most, but for those, like I, who do make him a "Saint," Orwell surely was a socialist and at one point in his life a devout Marxist."

True enough. Although in his later years (and especially during the Second World War) George seemed to have learned his lesson. Given the examples of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, Orwell figured out that socialism could never be implemented on a world-scale (and that to attempt to would lead to murderous tyranny of the worst kind), and that it would at least, have to make some compromises with capitalism if it was to survive at all. He mostly objected to capitalism on reasonable grouds, i.e. the hypocrisy the often accompanies many aspects of it.

If "Homage to Catalonia" is anything, it is the diary of young, idealistic man having his idealism shattered by reality. Orwell left Spain wounded, ill with tuberculosis (which eventually killed him), disilusioned, and with the more rabid revolutionary elements seeking his arrest, and God knows what else.

I've recommended this before, but for anyone who wants to experience Orwell outside of his "classics" (i.e. "Homage", "Road to Wiggan Pier", "1984", "Animal Farm") should make an effort to get their hands on a copy of the "Complete Essays of George Orwell", published by Penguin Books' Everyman's Library. It's quite lengthy (over 1200 pages) and consists of Orwell's newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews and pamphleteering (I find the "As I Please..." series of WWII newspaper columns to be wonderful reading). In these essays and articles, Orwell discusses the motivations and facts behind what were to eventually become his classic novels, which makes for fascinating reading.


14 posted on 02/05/2007 7:14:08 AM PST by Wombat101 (Islam: Turning everything it touches to Shi'ite since 632 AD...)
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To: Carry_Okie

"In reality, it was the Communists above all others who prevented revolution in Spain. Later, when the Right Wing forces were in full control, the Communists showed themselves willing to go a great deal further than the Liberals in hunting down revolutionary leaders."

One might suggest that in the case of Spain, Stalin, saw an opportunity to work with Franco as an opportunity to diffuse German influence. Faced with the inability of Britain & France to take the threat of Nazi German seriously, he could have seen cooperation with Franco as a price worth paying if it kept France from fighting on three fronts (Germany, Italy & Spain). It was the smart (but heartless) move but credited the French with more ability than was due, given what we see of France in 1940.


15 posted on 02/05/2007 7:15:10 AM PST by Diggadave
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To: Wombat101

P.S.: Orwell's "The Lion and The Unicorn" (or "England, Your England") is, in my opinion, one of tghe most patriotic pieces of litterature ever written, both because his love of country is so obvious, but because he was willing to tell the truth as he saw it.


16 posted on 02/05/2007 7:21:54 AM PST by Wombat101 (Islam: Turning everything it touches to Shi'ite since 632 AD...)
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To: Wombat101

Also note that Orwell's esssays are some of the best examples of clear writing in the English language.

When I was a high school sophmore (in the days before electricity), my English teacher told us that we would learn to write better if we read Orwell because he was a very clear thinker. He believed that clear writing (something in short supply today) was primarily a product of clear thinking (something even more precious today).


17 posted on 02/05/2007 7:30:37 AM PST by neocon1984 (end the idiocy of post-modernism)
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To: neocon1984

He's my second-favorite author of all time (behind Churchill). But you're absolutely correct in that regard; Anyone who reads Orwell always comes away with exactly the idea he intended to convey.


18 posted on 02/05/2007 7:33:28 AM PST by Wombat101 (Islam: Turning everything it touches to Shi'ite since 632 AD...)
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To: shrinkermd; NicknamedBob; Eric Blair 2084
But by far the worst aspect of Homage to Catalonia is its strong advocacy of totalitarianism.

Maybe, but by 1984 he was clearly a SINO - Socialist In Name Only.

19 posted on 02/05/2007 2:09:23 PM PST by Irish_Thatcherite (Apathy is one of the most dangerous ideologies in existence!)
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To: neocon1984; Wombat101
my English teacher told us that we would learn to write better if we read Orwell because he was a very clear thinker.

I agree, and very insightful about the dynamics of power.

20 posted on 02/05/2007 2:11:08 PM PST by Irish_Thatcherite (Apathy is one of the most dangerous ideologies in existence!)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

Orwell was clearly a product of his age. But it is equally clear that he was in the process of rising above some of that influence.

In my opinion he was a better man than FDR, though not as good as Churchill.


21 posted on 02/05/2007 2:37:38 PM PST by NicknamedBob (Sign says, "No dogs allowed -- except seeing-eye dogs" Why don't they put that sign down lower?)
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To: shrinkermd
If you really, really, really like Orwell. And I mean really, check out the book: Essays By George Orwell.

It is an extensive collection of most of his writings in journals and newspapers from the late 20's until 1949. He reviews books, writes short commentaries on politics and religion and gives great little snapshots into what life was like in Britain during his life. The book is nearly 1300 pages but well worth reading it.

22 posted on 02/05/2007 2:39:00 PM PST by Sawdring
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To: NicknamedBob
Orwell was clearly a product of his age. But it is equally clear that he was in the process of rising above some of that influence.

Pity he didn't live a few more years, we would have seen whether he would have abandoned socialism completely, or not!

In my opinion he was a better man than FDR, though not as good as Churchill.

That's an accurate description, I wonder what Orwell thought of the New Deal? ;)

23 posted on 02/05/2007 2:52:55 PM PST by Irish_Thatcherite (Apathy is one of the most dangerous ideologies in existence!)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite
Pity he didn't live a few more years, we would have seen whether he would have abandoned socialism completely, or not!

He predicted the collapse of Soviet system and return of capitalism - in Animal Farm.

24 posted on 02/05/2007 3:35:23 PM PST by A. Pole (" There is no other god but Free Market, and Adam Smith is his prophet ! Bazaar Akbar! ")
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To: A. Pole

Ah.. I was a bit puzzled by that last bit of the book!

It's only 50+ pages long, I read it one evening, maybe I would have been better to read it over a couple of days! ;)


25 posted on 02/05/2007 3:54:53 PM PST by Irish_Thatcherite (Apathy is one of the most dangerous ideologies in existence!)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

Golly gee willikers, I wonder why you would bring me into the discussion. :-)

When analyzing the works of Orwell or Huxley's "Brave New World" you have to take into account the period in which they wrote and not just look back on it with the benefit that we have of 20/20 hindsight.

Granted, Orwell was a Socialist. I'm sure he meant well...the idea sounded good in theory...everybody is equal, there is no hunger or poverty or class warfare. But this was in the 1940's, long before the experiment had proven to be a failure in reality as seen in Cuba, USSR, California.

Orwell's vision of a state in which the Gubmint used technology through telescreens which monitored their citizens every move wasn't wrong per se...he just didn't realize 60 years ago that the same technology could be used by the masses through mediums like the internet and sites like FR, or radio hosts like Rush, Hannity or Levin or cable TV with channels like FOX that could break the hold of carefully orchestrated left wing propaganda. (see the Global Warming fraud)


26 posted on 02/05/2007 7:53:40 PM PST by Eric Blair 2084 (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shouldn't be a federal agency...it should be a convenience store.)
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To: Eric Blair 2084
Golly gee willikers, I wonder why you would bring me into the discussion. :-)

I saw your screenname pop up before, figured you might be interested in this thread! :)

When analyzing the works of Orwell or Huxley's "Brave New World" you have to take into account the period in which they wrote and not just look back on it with the benefit that we have of 20/20 hindsight.

True, Huxley was in many ways Orwell's counterpart - representive of Fascist-leaning ideology, both in the end started to see the fallacies of their respective ideologies.

Granted, Orwell was a Socialist. I'm sure he meant well...the idea sounded good in theory...everybody is equal, there is no hunger or poverty or class warfare. But this was in the 1940's, long before the experiment had proven to be a failure in reality as seen in Cuba, USSR, California.

Yeah, I generally look more favourably on the Old Left than I do with the modern left - they could be given the benifit of the doubt considering, as you have said, that socialism wasn't yet proven to be flawed, plus; there was extreme poverty in the West until the '50s (resolved by the Free Market, of course).

They may have had flawed ideas, but they also had a moral compass - something modern-day liberals wholly lack!

Orwell's vision of a state in which the Gubmint used technology through telescreens which monitored their citizens every move wasn't wrong per se...he just didn't realize 60 years ago...

I would imagine if the technology we had today was controlled centrally, the results would be far different than what we know today!

27 posted on 02/06/2007 12:58:00 PM PST by Irish_Thatcherite (Apathy is one of the most dangerous ideologies in existence!)
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To: agere_contra; Puddleglum; expatpat; Mr.Smorch

I'm surprised no one has mentioned David Horowitz, to provide a very contemporaneous example. He's such a good resource for conservatives.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/index.asp


28 posted on 02/22/2007 4:43:32 AM PST by FreedomPoster (Guns themselves are fairly robust; their chief enemies are rust and politicians) (NRA)
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