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.
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!
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.
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.
A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook
Title: Homage to Catalonia (1938)
Author: George Orwell
"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.
Maybe, but by 1984 he was clearly a SINO - Socialist In Name Only.
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.