25. jun. 2003

George Orwell 1903-1950

Today would have been George Orwell's 100th birthday. A graduate from Eton College and with a service career in both the British police in Burma and the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War, Orwell had seen both the left and right wing systems of oppression. Experiencing the seedy side of urban life as a down and out in 1920s London and Paris, he would write about it in the aptly titled "Down and out" (1933). Later in life he worked as a shopkeeper, which he stated taught him how to run a business.
Probably most famous for the books "Animal Farm" and "1984", Orwell fought a lifelong battle against totalitarianism and the way these systems oppress through revision of history and manipulation of the language (the famous "newspeak" from "1984" is said to have been inspired by his work for the BBC in wartime Britain).
Defining himself as a socialist in the 1930's, he began to see Stalinist Communism and it's constant purges of anyone with "dissident" thoughts as perhaps an even worse threat to humanity than fascism and Nazism. He ended up fighting the communists in Spain and had to flee for his life.
"1984" is often quoted as an attack on the Communist state, or the state in general, but much of the inspiration came from living in London during World War II -- the (V1 and V2) rocket attacks, the low grade clothing and food, the endless war going on somewhere far away (as the British wars in Asia and Africa) and if you see posters of Winston Churchill during that period you realise that he also formed part of the inspiration for "Big Brother".
Written in 1948, "1984" should be required reading for anyone living in the corporate media and information society of today where -- once again -- "war is peace".

[Posted by Lennard Grahn]