Orwellian words

Richard Webster (Letters, 19 June) wants to know which edition of George Orwell I have been reading to find the sage of Wigan Pier espousing reactionary views. May I refer him to Orwell: collected essays, journalism and letters (Penguin, 1970). On page 94 of the second volume ("The Lion and the Unicorn", part 1, chapter V), he will find Orwell decrying "the general weakening of imperialism, and to some extent of the whole British morale", which the great socialist blames on "intellectual sabotage from the left". On page 126 of the same volume (part 3, chapter II), Orwell writes of his ideal non-totalitarian socialist government: "it will leave anachronisms and loose ends everywhere . . . it will draw into it most of the middle class . . . Most of its directing brains will come from the new indeterminate class . . . It will crush any open revolt promptly and cruelly . . . It will show a power of assimilating the past which will shock foreign observers." On page 113 (part 3, chapter I), we are regaled with the observation that "backward agricultural countries like India and the African colonies can no more be independent than can a cat or a dog".

Ed Griffiths

This article first appeared in the 10 July 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Education, education, profit