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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quick comment on Nineteen Eighty-Four

The world in 1984...

For many people, Orwell's novel is an anti-Communist tract par excellence, or, at the very least, an anti-totalitarian piece. However, it is worth noting a press statement Orwell issued via his publisher Frederick Warburg in the summer of 1949 in response to a widespread belief that Nineteen Eighty-Four was an anti-socialist novel and Orwell had abandoned socialism (quoted in Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, Penguin, 1992, p.566):

"George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR come into being there will be several super states....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 power blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the USA the phrase 'Americanism' or 'hundred per cent Americanism' is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish."

Just think if the name of The Party in the novel had been abbreviated to TOTALAM, and Britain had been reduced to an offshore "Airstrip One" for a US dominated Empire. Inconceivable!!


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