Thursday, April 26, 2007
GEORGE ORWELL'S "STATEMENT ON 'NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR' " - JUNE 1949
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.
Thoughts that have been proved to be completely accurate.
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.
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.
"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))
"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"
(SOURCE : ESSSAY : "YOU AND THE ATOM BOMB" - 19 OCTOBER 1945)
"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"
(SOURCE : "STUPID WHITE MEN" BY MICHAEL MOORE - PENGUIN - PAGE 260)
Great to hear from you
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.