Friday, March 10, 2006

One click each to make the Internet a slightly better place

From Harry's Place (obviously)

"Harry's Place readers who share our admiration of George Orwell-- or those who would like to know more about him-- should pay a visit to Charles' George Orwell Links, one of the oldest and finest Orwell sites on the Web.

Not least among the reasons for visiting that site is that when you do a Google search for "Orwell" now, a thoroughly nasty site-- full of conspiracy-mongering and antisemitism-- gets a higher ranking. Far better that Googlers get their first impressions of Orwell from a site like Charles'."

Charles links to The Lion and the Unicorn. Every schoolchild should be asked to read it and then tested on large parts of it. You may have read it a dozen times yourself - if so, apologies for the presumption. But if not, read the whole thing.

However much one may hate to admit it, it is almost certain that between 1931 and 1940 the National Government represented the will of the mass of the people. It tolerated slums, unemployment and a cowardly foreign policy. Yes, but so did public opinion. It was a stagnant period, and its natural leaders were mediocrities.

In spite of the campaigns of a few thousand left-wingers, it is fairly certain that the bulk of the English people were behind Chamberlain’s foreign policy. More, it is fairly certain that the same struggle was going on in Chamberlain’s mind as in the minds of ordinary people. His opponents professed to see in him a dark and wily schemer, plotting to sell England to Hitler, but it is far likelier that he was merely a stupid old man doing his best according to his very dim lights. It is difficult otherwise to explain the contradictions of his policy, his failure to grasp any of the courses that were open to him.

Like the mass of the people, he did not want to pay the price either of peace or of war. And public opinion was behind him all the while, in policies that were completely incompatible with one another. It was behind him when he went to Munich, when he tried to come to an understanding with Russia, when he gave the guarantee to Poland, when he honoured it, and when he prosecuted the war half-heartedly. Only when the results of his policy became apparent did it turn against him; which is to say that it turned against its own lethargy of the past seven years.

Thereupon the people picked a leader nearer to their mood, Churchill, who was at any rate able to grasp that wars are not won without fighting. Later, perhaps, they will pick another leader who can grasp that only Socialist nations can fight effectively.


1 comment:

Neil said...

Good post. It amazed me when Rullsneberg was doing courses in media studies that George Orwell was very out of favour. Which was ridiculous when you consider he wrote on topics like Boy's Weeklies and The Art of Donald McGill.

You never can tell who is currently out of favour in academic circles. But a reputation is always being reclaimed - witness Mark Twain who had a period out of favour and he now seems to be popular and acceptable.