Skip to comments.Blair's Babe [Did love turn Orwell into a government stooge?]
Posted on 06/22/2003 7:55:59 AM PDT by William McKinley
George Orwell, venerated as "the wintry conscience of a generation", gave the British government a list of 38 suspected or actual communist sympathisers, the Guardian reveals today.
A carbon copy of the document - which the government still treats as secret 54 years later - is reproduced for the first time in today's Review.
The find confirms evidence first raised seven years ago. Among those singled out for suspicion by the author of Animal Farm and 1984 in the late 1940s, sometimes highly tentatively, were the comedian Charlie Chaplin, the bestselling novelist JB Priestley, the actor Michael Redgrave, the Soviet historian EH Carr, the historian of Trotsky, Isaac Deutscher, and the leftwing Labour MP Tom Driberg.
The list is revealed in a 4,000-word article in Review by the political historian and commentator Timothy Garton Ash. He says that what brought the creator of Big Brother and the foe of bureaucratic power into the hands of a real-life bureaucracy was the love of a beautiful woman - "or at least his quest for her affection".
The woman was Celia Kirwan, a friend of Orwell's who worked in 1949 for a secretly funded Foreign Office section, the information research department (IRD).
She asked his help in countering waves of communist bloc propaganda in the intensifying cold war. Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, offered to compile from his notebooks a list of those "who should not be trusted as propagandists [for the west]".
The writer, already terminally ill with tuberculosis and desperate about the then Soviet Union, died in 1950. When Kirwan died last autumn, her daughter, Ariane Bankes, found among her papers a carbon of the list which Orwell had finally sent her. Ms Bankes asked Garton Ash to write about it.
Conclusive evidence appears to exist that the typescript is genuine. It has a Foreign Office document number, with the words Not Released written in red ink, indicating it was thought too sensitive to be made public when the carbon was sent to Ms Kirwan, apparently in 1994.
Its discovery proves Orwell, after conscientious second thoughts and deletions, did send the Foreign Office some names from his notebook drafts.
The existence of these drafts was first disclosed in Peter Davison's 20-volume edition of the author's complete works in 1998. Prof Davison does not doubt the list's authenticity.
It contains 38 names of journalists, scholars and actors who "in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as [anti-communist] propagandists".
Some of the most famous names including Chaplin, Carr, Priestley and Redgrave, have only questions marks or brief remarks against them. Lesser known names include three Guardian journalists active in the 1940s.
Subsequent evidence has lent weight to the view that Orwell was spot-on with one suspect, and probably right about two others including Tom Driberg, a one-time Labour party chairman and longstanding member of the Labour national executive.
The Daily Express journalist Peter Smollett has been identified as a Soviet agent, recruited by Kim Philby, by study of the Mitrokhin archive of documents revealed by a senior KGB librarian. Smollett headed the Russian section in Britain's wartime information ministry.
In a twist of fate, Garton Ash writes that he was "almost certainly" the civil servant on whose advice the London publisher Jonathan Cape rejected Orwell's Animal Farm as an unhealthily anti-Soviet text. The rejection was a severe blow to the author. Driberg is identified in the Mitrokhin archive as recruited by the Soviets in 1956 after a homosexual indiscretion in Moscow. He was a "doubtless deeply unreliable agent", Garton Ash says.
One man on the list, Alaric Jacob, later had his BBC pension rights suspended for two years but no evidence has so far emerged that Orwell's naming of him caused this.
Yet - says Garton Ash - nobody knows how IRD staff used Orwell's information in their contacts with MI6. "What remains unsettling about the actual list sent to Celia is the way in which this symbol of political independence and journalistic honesty is drawn into collaboration with a bureaucratic department of propaganda, however marginal the collaboration".
Orwell had earlier proposed to Celia Kirwan. In 1949 he ended a letter to her "with much love".
Yesterday Garton Ash said: "To me, Orwell's reputation is barely blemished. It is a tremendously human story. If if he had recovered from TB, and you and I had been sitting with him five years later, I think he might have said 'It was a mistake'."
If if he had recovered from TB, and you and I had been sitting with him five years later, I think he might have said 'It was a mistake'."Or, he might have said "I was right". Orwell hated communists, Mr. Ash.
You mean they weren't commie symps?
What would be unsettling about this whole article, if it were not so common, is the assumption that taking a stand against the total evil of Communism is inconsistent with "journalistic honesty."
Note the use of the word "collaboration." One collaborates with oppressors, such as the Nazis after they conquered France. If he had named patriots opposed to Communism, he would not be a collaborator, but a hero.
Yeah, well put. Orwell just went up a little in my estimation.
Also unlike them, he recognized Marxism/communism/socialism as the prototype of the horrifying world he described in 1984 and Animal Farm (something that is beyond the comprehension of the lunkheads at The Guardian, who obviously can't grasp reality much less learn from experience).
"Liberals"/socialists/communists ignore that fact that 1984-type totalitarianism is a requisite and an essential part of the Marxist "paradise" that they envision.
They also ignore the fact that it has always failed and that failure is inherent in its concept.
They also ignore the fact that Animal Farm is an inevitability to the revolution that they envision.
The jerks at The Gardian are so lost in their "Liberal" delusions (I know; it's a redundancy) that they cannot understand this either:
Orwell was much smarter than they are, and
Orwell knew what he was doing.
Orwell was a hardcore leftist who went off to fight against Franco in Spain. He was wounded their by a sniper. He believed in the leftist cause. But then he saw that the communists were not interested in uplifting the little man but simply in attaining power and they were willing to be just as or more ruthless as any other despot to get it.
This was an epiphany for Orwell. He devoted his writing thereafter to trying to demonstrate what was wrong with Marxist movement. It's the leftists own fault that he came out hard against them after Spain. He meant his books as a warning against the very ideology he had held dear and for which he had shed blood.
Did he no longer hold it dear then? I had supposed he remained a socialist to the end.
Thus, *both* 1984 and Darkness had more than a little connection to MI6, and both turned out to be rather true, though in the case of Blair/Orwell's 1984 slam against the Soviets, perhaps it should have been called 1989 (i.e. the year the CCCP finally collapsed). He only missed it by 5 years.
And for the record, McCarthy was right, too.
But I have to say, the last thing I want to do is sit around and make excuses for the man. Regardless of his own personal leanings, he understood communism inside out and although this might be because he was one himself, it also allowed him to create 1984 and Animal Farm in the chilling manner he did.
Personally, I'm willing to let the man's deeds (his works) speak for themselves. I believe in the end he did us more service than evil.
Franco is *STILL* not a subject that Leftists permit their journalists to discuss today. He's far too inconvenient for them. Hitler sent troops and planes to help the fellow national socialist, yet Franco spurned Hitler's cause and ideology as well as spurned Germany itself when it was in its time of need, so Communist sympathizers in the media can't paint Franco as being a Fascist. That makes him very inconvenient.
Franco was clearly a socialist, yet he was opposed to Communism but nor would he side with Fascism. Clearly this painted a dilema for the Communists of that day. Apparently it was also difficult for the earlier Blair to sufficiently hate Franco enough to overcome the warts that he saw in Communism (thankfully).
So Franco was/is inconvenient to the Left. He certainly doesn't get much historical coverage today.