Orwellian Stupidity out of the man himself

Posted On: Friday - June 18th 2021 7:00AM MST
In Topics: 
  Orwellian Stupidity  Books

Peak Stupidity uses our topic key Orwellian Stupidity in jest this time. This post is about stupidity of the author George Orwell himself, or really just lack of wisdom (gotta keep with the theme of the blog though, you know...). Normally, the term "Orwellian" is, of course, used to describe practices of Totalitarian governments that were frighteningly described in their final endgame in Orwell's most famous novel, the dystopian Sci-Fi story 1984.

I'm only writing this due to my having read 2 more of the famous author's books, Homage to Catalonia and Animal Farm, lately. The point here is not at all to denigrate George Orwell, as I wouldn't know how to start writing in the manner of a classic author like this.

That's just it, though. George Orwell* is a classic author. From the time I was forced to read many of these guys' (and a few gals') works in high school**, then later on a few of them of my own volition, I was instilled a respect for writers of published books that was perhaps undeserved. Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of respect for the writing abilities of the classic authors. I realize the value of the classic American and English literature as sometimes force-fed to me for my own good.

However, that was not the age of the internet, in which one can self-publish and promote his works on a youtube channel. If there is a published book out by some dude, well, I figured he is a Writer™, PERIOD, and is somebody who knows WTH he is doing. It's taken me a long time to shake that respect and realize that most of these writers are humans with foibles and can be lacking in wisdom like the rest of us.

Exhibit A here is one George Orwell. 1984 is indeed an important work, meant to be a warning about Totalitarianism, but often taken lately as an instruction manual! That was his last book however, written in 1949 when he was 46 years old***. At the time of his writing of Homage to Catalonia, he was only 35 years old. Face it, he was just young and dumb like most of us were, to some degree. In Orwell's case, it wasn't to impress the chicks that he went off to fight in the Spanish Civil War (written about in that book), as he was already married. However, you've got the usual impulsive behavior of a fairly young, and in this case very idealistic, man. "Let's go fight those nasty Fascists! Our side is full of good people, who want to set things right. Never mind the support from the USSR, we're doing the right thing."

Homage to Catalonia was a diary of Mr. Orwell's time on one of the fronts in the war, and then of the turmoil that happened in Barcelona as he and his wife stayed there some months. This turmoil, including plenty of street fighting, arrests, and executions (including of some of Orwell's compatriots on the "Republican" side) was among the different factions that were all supposed to be fighting the fascists. I didn't get the big picture of what this was all about - spillover from the friction/purges/etc. back in the USSR, the big supporter of Orwell's side - until after I wrote my review, and that's because neither did Mr. Orwell himself. He couldn't write about that part, as he didn't know any better, being in the midst of this turmoil and confusion in Barcelona. He could only have seen the big picture after he was back safely in France, then England, and maybe only after some time had gone by.

I'd read multiple times in the past that George Orwell, even though he wrote 1984 had remained a Socialist in ideology. It was hard for me to believe that a guy who saw the evils of Totalitarianism, as described in his last book, couldn't see that Socialism usually leads in that direction. However, I see that by the time of his writing of Animal Farm, at 42 years old, indeed this author had no problem with Socialism itself, only a problem with a bad implementation of Socialism by people , well animals, who went off the rails on a power trip. Sure, he was drawing a specific parallel to the events that had unfolded in the Soviet Union.**** I expected differently, as I wrote in in that review.

What's the whole point here? The point is that, just based on one classic book alone, one shouldn't get the impression that the author is/was some big fountain of wisdom. George Orwell really didn't get it, from what I've read (only the 3 books), until his last work, published the year before his death at 46 y/o. These classic authors are well known for possibly some high-brow entertainment or from their making of profound statements about society and ideology. Much of their lives, though, until they gather some wisdom, they may be as full of shit as the next guy. I got the wrong impression from my English teachers.

* That was the pen name of Englishman Eric Arthur Blair. Wikipedia has a good biography page here.

** I never did tackle that Moby Dick, though it was indeed assigned. Even the Cliff Notes were too long for this guy!

*** George Orwell died young, still 46 years old in January of 1950.

**** He'd finally gotten a clue about what that whole Barcelona mess he'd gotten caught up in was all about.

Adam Smith
Thursday - June 24th 2021 5:40PM MST
PS: Hey everyone...

Robert, I never heard of Lochner v. New York before. Thanks.

Sunday - June 20th 2021 2:32PM MST
PS: Mr Blanc, Economically and Politically I am probably closest to being a Distributist and a Monarchist (with severe restrictions on his powers). Anyone who has much control over my life, should be close enough and weak enough to fear a mob on foot with pitchforks.
Dieter Kief
Saturday - June 19th 2021 11:13PM MST
PS MBlanc46 - I agree. Politics is always twofold: What's up/what's wrong and 2) Whom do you want to address/convince.

A (once rather leftist (=Marxist) Englishman (in the footsteps of George Orwell not least) does address both of the two basic questions quite well: David Goodhart: The Raod to Somewhere. And: Head, Hand, Heart. (=two books)

There is even an English essayist combining quite thoughtfully David Goodhart and - Charles Murray! How's that? - Helen Dale: The Comming War Over Intelligence

Saturday - June 19th 2021 1:26PM MST
PS As Mr Anon and Robert aptly point out, just because socialism (at least state socialism) might be unworkable, it isn’t implied that all or most capitalists, are good guys. History shows rather the opposite. The ancient Persians characterized the Greek marketplace, the agora, as “the place where the Greeks meet to cheat one another”. What does Adam Smith say about the butcher, the bakery, and the candlestick maker: the first thing they do is get together and conspire to fix prices. Our contemporary capitalists are perfectly happy to destroy the best societies that have ever existed in order to exploit the cheaper labor of Asia and Latin America. If we want to recruit normies to join us in our struggle against Globohomo, we have to offer them something different to the globalist capitalism that is the foundation of Globohomo.
Saturday - June 19th 2021 10:48AM MST
PS: Mr. Moderator, Mr. Smith, Thanks for the reference and link to "Night Comes to the Cumberlands". I will check it out.

Mr. Smith, I was thinking of Lochner v. New York, and, no, it wasn't really about labour unions.
Saturday - June 19th 2021 8:47AM MST
PS I read Down and Out in Paris and London several months ago and enjoyed it, especially the Paris portion. Orwell's job there as a dishwasher-cum-waiter is interesting and humorous. But it underlines the old admonishment that one would never patronize a restaurant once one had been back to the kitchen.

Orwell sported a Moustache Guy moustache in his 1920 passport photo; I didn't know that!
Saturday - June 19th 2021 8:34AM MST

Lotta poor men make a five dollar bill
Keep him happy all the time
Some other fella makin’ nothin’ at all
And you can here him cryin’, cryin’
Saturday - June 19th 2021 8:30AM MST
I dunno if it still holds up, but the John Sayles movie Matewan deals with the coal field labor strife of the 1920s- All star ( well, medium star) cast, Kevin Tighe, Gordon Clapp, Chris Cooper, David Strathairn and James Earl Jones.- pretty much the whole cast of Eight Men Out and then some.

I think those of us of a free market bent tend to discount how difficult the lives of people in places like those West Virginia coal towns were.
Adam Smith
Saturday - June 19th 2021 7:19AM MST
PS: Good morning everyone...



Robert, while I cannot think of any specific supreme court cases that deemed labor unions to be illegal per se, it's fair to say the supremes are no friend of labor. There are many cases where the supremes rule in such a way as to weaken labor unions. Janus v. AFSCME is a recent example...


As for child labor laws, Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251 (1918), was a United States Supreme Court decision in which the Court struck down the Keating-Owen Act that regulated child labor. Interestingly the supremes nullified the act because they claimed it overstepped the purpose of the government's powers to regulate interstate commerce.

The Pinkerton's are as American as Apple Pie and Napalm.

Saturday - June 19th 2021 5:11AM MST
PS: Robert, have you read the book "Night Comes to the Cumberlands"? It has descriptions of life in these coal mining company towns along the lines of what you related. BTW, for Dead Heads, the song "Cumberland Blues" must have had inspiration from that book.
Saturday - June 19th 2021 12:15AM MST
PS: Mr. Anon:

Mr. Smith can probably furnish more accurate information, but there was a time that the Supreme Court held unions and child labour laws to be illegal. Something about bakers and the right to contract.

But the Pinkerton Company, Machine guns, and FDR were American values.

Orwell was wrong, but his opponents were also.
Friday - June 18th 2021 11:54PM MST
PS: Mr. Anon, forty some years ago, I knew a guy from work, who had grown up in the Apalachian coal fields in the '20s. After his father was injured in some kind of accident, he supported his family on the 10 cents a day he earned by gathering coal that fell off the trains. Older boys would steal your coal, but he was good with his fists.

Most miners could not afford to buy the coal to cook their food, let alone heat the home. Daughters (age seven and up) would be sent to gather wood. This led to deforestation, which led to landslides, which led to towns being destroyed, which led to company towns, which led to Blair Mountain and such.

I am not a socialist, but capitalism (and the current version of finance capitalism) are truly evil.
Mr. Anon
Friday - June 18th 2021 9:12PM MST

Orwell was wrong about socialism. But he wasn't so wrong about early 20th century capitalism, which was often pretty crappy.

Orwell's greatest value as a writer and thinker lay, I think, in three things: 1.) He was a very good writer, 2.) He was honest, and 3.) He correctly perceived the true nature of the totalitarian mind - that it is primarily motivated by the desire for power, not riches or any other earthly luxury, but for power itself. And power is nothing if it isn't power over other people.
Friday - June 18th 2021 8:44PM MST
PS: Thank you, Robert. I will consider getting that book. The wiki bio. had information on Mr. Blair's living in the "down and out" places often purposefully to get writing material. He moved a whole lot.
Friday - June 18th 2021 11:01AM MST

Mr. Moderator, If you want to see why Orwell thought Socialism was a good thing, read 'The Road to Wigan Pier'.

The first half is about the life of the working class during the Thirties. (For instance, it was not uncommon for there to be one outhouse for a whole block of workers houses.)

The second part is about how Socialism would fix things, but why any normal person rejects it.

A key quote:

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

It is a very interesting book, and I think his best. While he was wrong, he was not un-intelligent, and did have some very good reasons for his beliefs.
Friday - June 18th 2021 10:55AM MST
PS: I'm not sure, Alarmist. I don't know what they've got going on in the high schools. The elementary school has too much of the black history, women's history stuff, but some of the books are the normal stuff. It's not gonna be fun for me if it's not to my liking. (I don't think we'll be getting our tax money out of the government schools for too much longer anyway.)
The Alarmist
Friday - June 18th 2021 9:10AM MST

Do they still teach works like 1984 and Brave New World in American schools, or have they been memory-holed them to prevent any children capable of even a scintilla of critical thought from becoming red-pilled?
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