Thursday, April 26, 2007



A blogger friend, for whom I have the greatest respect, has had difficulty finding George Orwell's "Statement On 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'" (June 1949) on the Internet.

This does not surprise me at all - not because of my respected friend's internet search limitations, but because I'm sure it's not there - for reasons which can be analysed later...

I have a photocopy of the original 'Statement' in front of me now - having made a personal visit last year to The Orwell Archive (UCL London), because I also had difficulty in finding it - for reasons which can be analysed later...

Instead of sending a photocopy only to my learned friend, I have decided to quote it in full here on this Blog - for my benefit, his benefit, and - hopefully - for others too :

Note : The 'Statement' has been typed, but at the top - in pencil - are the words : "Use with discretion...(then an ineligible word)...OK'd by George" - I assume this was written by his editor, Victor Gollancz (correction, Fredric Warburg, hat-tip : Anticant) following a visit to the author.

"It has been suggested by some of the reviewers of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR that it is the author's view that this, or something like this, is what will happen inside the next forty years in the Western world. This is not correct. I think that, allowing for the book being after all a parody, something like NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR could happen ('could' is underlined - Ed). This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation.
"Specifically, the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities, by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which - of course - the atom bomb is the most powerful, and the most publicized.
But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook, by intellectuals of all colours.
The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one : Don't let it happen. It depends on you."
(The last 8 words are underlined - Ed)
(Also, as I understand it, these last words - "Don't let it happen. It depends on you" - are the last published words of George Orwell. He died 7 months later, aged 46 - Ed)
(The 'Statement' continues, but is no longer written by Orwell. It is completed, I assume, by his editor, Victor Gollancz - correction, Fredric Warburg - Ed)
"George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR come into being, there will be several super states. This is fully dealt with in the relevant chapters of Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Chapter IX - 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein' - Ed)
It is also discussed from a different angle by James Burnham in THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other, or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are. Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia.
If these two great blocs line up as mortal enemies, it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents, and will not dramatise themselves on the scene of history as Communists (or Socialists - Ed).
Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR is of course Ingsoc (English Socialism - Ed), but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable, and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish.
"If there is a failure of nerve, and the Labour party breaks down in its attempt to deal with the hard problems with which it will be faced, tougher types than the present Labour leaders will inevitably take over, drawn probably from the ranks of the Left, but not sharing the Liberal aspirations of those now in power.
Members of the present British government, from Mr. Attlee and Sir Stafford Cripps down to Aneurin Bevan, will never willingly ('never' is underlined - Ed) sell the pass to the enemy; and in general, the older men nurtured in a Liberal tradition are safe. But the younger generation is suspect, and the seeds of totalitarian thought are probably widespread among them.
It is invidious to mention names, but everyone could - without difficulty - think for himself of prominent English and American personalities whom the cap would fit."

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If it were a religion Orwell could be considered a prophet. In actual fact he was a political analyst who dared to speak out his thoughts.

Thoughts that have been proved to be completely accurate.
Thank you for taking this trouble, Richard. I had intended to tell you that I discovered a copy of this statement is reprinted as an appendix in the Oxford University Press critical edition of "1984", edited by Bernard Crick and published in 1984, which I possess.

You are incorrect on one detail – the statement was edited not by Victor Gollancz, but by Orwell’s new publisher, Fredric Warburg. Orwell had severed his ties with Gollancz after the latter’s refusal to publish "Animal Farm" because it didn’t chime in with his benign attitude towards Stalin’s Russia.

The same edition of 1984 also contains this extract from a letter Orwell wrote to Francis A. Hendon of the United Automobile Workers Union [presumably of America]:

“My recent novel is not intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party [of which I am a supporter] but as a show-up of the perversions to which a centralised economy is liable and which have already been partly realised in Communism and Fascism. I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe [allowing of course for the fact that the book is a satire] that something resembling it could arrive. I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences. The scheme of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasise that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere.”

As the American mindset on the presumed links between personal liberty, free enterprise, and minimum government interference in economic and social affairs was, and still is, so much more right-wing than that of most Europeans, it is not surprising that many American reviewers of 1984 misinterpreted Orwell’s own views. But there were also many admiring reviews of the book in the United States.

Orwell’s comment “I believe…that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere” is even truer today than when he wrote it.
Thank you, AC, for pointing out that correction : yes indeed, the editor-publisher was Fredric Warburg, not Victor Gollancz.

And, Jose, thank you also for your contribution. Like Chomsky, Orwell was a "political analyst who dared to speak out his thoughts".

I remember reading somewhere - if I come across it I'll quote it exactly - that someone asked how it was possible to predict political events so accurately - like a "prophet".

The reason given : greater understanding and correspondence with the truth, regarding THE NATURE OF POWER, than anyone else.
I do hope you realise - one and all - that if we dig deeper here, a most ungodly 'can of worms' will open up on both sides of the Atlantic - not before time, mind you.
"Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in England on 8 June 1949 and in the United States on 13 June.

"It was an outstanding success, but it was subject to misunderstanding, especially in the United States.

"Orwell was distressed that his novel was interpreted as an attack on the Labour Party in, for example, the New York Daily News.

The Socialist Call (on 22 July), Life (on 25 July), and the New York Times Book Review (on 31 July) published a statement by Orwell..." (not THE Statement - Ed)...

..."On 8 July 1950, Orwell's friend Tosco Fyvel wrote to margaret M. Goalby, in answer to her questions about Orwell's responses to events in the last months of his life, and the meaning of 'Ingsoc' :

'Orwell believed in the old Liberal principles, and the value of truth and ordinary decency. he was also firmly of the view that these principles demanded a democratic socialist structure of society...

'He also said that one point in 1984 had been misunderstood by the critics. 'Ingsoc', the totalitarian society, was not represented as arising out of democratic socialism.

'On the contrary : his imaginary totalitarians, who arose in England after an atomic war, adopted the name of 'English Socialism' because they thought it had popular appeal - in the same way as the Nazis, while allying themselves in 1933 with the Ruhr industrialists and smashing the German trade unions and Socialist Party, called themselves 'National-Socialists' to dupe the German working class'".

(SOURCE : ORWELL AND POLITICS (Penguin Classics, 2001 - Peter Davison Notes - Pages 499 to 501))

As I see it, the publication of 'Animal Farm' (UK-Aug 1945/US-Aug 1946) and 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' (US/UK-1949) has to be seen in the context of the 'Cold War' - an expression invented by Orwell :

"We may be heading not for general breakdown, but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its idealogical implications - that is, the kind of world view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable, and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbours"

"George Orwell had it pegged when he wrote '1984'.

"What most people remember from that book is 'Big Brother'. But even more relevant today is the part about how The Leader needed to have a 'permanent war'.

"He needed to keep the citizens in perpetual fear of the enemy, so they would give him all the power he desired.

"The people wanted to live, so they gave up their freedoms and their liberties.

"Of course, the only way this could happen is if they were truly convinced that the enemy was everywhere, anywhere, and that they could die at any moment.

"It worked in the book, and it is working today.

"The only thing that will stop it is if we completely, and without equivocation, reject the lies we are being told"

Great suff Richard.

Interesting insight.
Oh, there's more to come, Aaron...much more...and it's making my hair stand on end.

Great to hear from you
Big Brother. Here again the long arm of the media is exposed. You may have been able to see how Orwell's Big Brother has been decaffed by the TV corporations and mock programmes used to play him down.
"Big Brother" indeed, Jose - and we have both spent much time trying to find out who that might be, haven't we old friend !?

Big Brother comes in various disguises - sometimes called The Master Puppeteer, The Octupus (with the "long arm" - tentacle - of the Media), The Cabal, etc.

In this particular 'can of worms', we appear to be seeing Big Brother's "long arm" of its Security Services.

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