“You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.”
–Thomas Paine “Rights of Man”
It’s easy to forget the revisionism and deceit that often follows a great writer’s death. Raymond Williams’ endless calumnies against George Orwell, falsely accusing him of selling out the left to the British police state is a classic example. When Trump cries “fake news” its
best to remember academics helped launch it.
Poor Orwell. Who never belonged at any dinner table.
Gore Vidal: “politics is knowing who’s paying for your lunch.”
No one ever paid for Orwell’s lunch.
Orwell: “If you hate violence and don’t believe in politics, the only major remedy remaining is education. Perhaps society is past praying for, but there is always hope for the individual human being, if you can catch him young enough.”
There is always hope for the individual human being.
“When recently I protested in print against the Marxist dialect which makes use of phrases like “objectively counter-revolutionary left-deviationism” or “drastic liquidation of petty-bourgeois elements,” I received indignant letters from lifelong Socialists who told me that I was “insulting the language of the proletariat.” In rather the same spirit, Professor Harold Laski devotes a long passage in his last book, Faith, Reason and Civilisation, to an attack on Mr. T. S. Eliot, whom he accuses of “writing only for a few.” Now Eliot, as it happens, is one of the few writers of our time who have tried seriously to write English as it is spoken”
Beware of writers who sniff loudly that so and so is “too accessible” and further beware of those who proclaim with rococo jargon they’re speaking for the proles.
“…let me repeat what I said at the beginning of this essay: that in England the immediate enemies of truthfulness, and hence of freedom of thought, are the Press lords, the film magnates, and the bureaucrats, but that on a long view the weakening of the desire for liberty among the intellectuals themselves is the most serious symptom of all. ”
This shivers me. Always has. “Cancel culture” is a symptom of a weakening desire for liberty and is rather a desire only for power over the ideas of others.