/ George Orwell's predictions were 'bonkers'
Personally I don't agree. But who am I, a mere member of the proletariat, to disagree with such a heavyweight in the world of literature.
I heard the discussion this morning and have to agree with you. The professor seemed to think that the books were a prediction of the future when in fact they were a warning about what the future could become. The fact the we are not living in a world that's as oppressive as the one Orwell describes in 1984 is partly due to the warning that the book has given us.
I am another. Orwell was pointing out some logical end-points of human and political behaviour. I think about half of what he said has happened in various forms, especially regarding politicians, the media and propaganda.
UCL? Obviously a socialist trying to lull us all back to sleep
Only caught part of it, but he dismissed the Handmaid's Tale out of hand on the basis that the USA wasn't run by religious extremists. Maybe not, but parts of it are, which is why creationism is taught in many public schools (sometimes including specific teaching that evolution is false).
So he was other posturing, or is ignorant.
I find John Sutherland's assertions difficult to understand, given the obvious examples that have been provided so far.
It sounds as though he is trying to draw attention to himself and his own work.
Orwell didn't have to imagine a future socialist totalitarian state when he wrote Animal Farm & 1984 - the Soviet Union was 30 years old then.
> It sounds as though he is trying to draw attention to himself and his own work.
I wondered if I'd missed a "...academic and author of 'why George Orwell was Wrong' " in the introductions
He really reminds me of the academic described in Daniele Bolelli's open letter to academia.
Though to be honest. Orwell is my hero...so i'm a little bias. One of the greatest English writers. A classic warrior philosopher. A very intelligent and manly man. There's no greater role model.
Seems embarrassingly short sighted for a professor of English to see Orwell's writing as pure predictions only.
oh and thanks richard for posting this. Otherwise would have missed radio 4 were doing a series on Orwell. Awesome :)
I know what you mean, I am also biased having having read Orwell novels at secondary school. At the time I enjoyed the "stories" but didn't quite grasp their significance, being a daft teenager. It was only when I learnt of my parents lives as kids in the 30's as part of large families with little income and no regular work that those "stories" actually had great meaning.
Yes, one of the great English Writers and I am quite pissed with this academic.
It is writers such as Orwell that helped improve the social situation in this country.
The road to Wigan pier really changed my perspective about poverty in the country. Also made me finally understand the north/south divide. And provided me with one of my all time favourite quotes - “There could hardly be a town in the South of England where you could throw a brick without hitting the niece of a bishop.”
It seems crazy as we're such a prosperous country now. But as little as two generations (and living memory) ago people went to school with no shoes and lived in terrible conditions. If Orwell hadn't gone and lived/worked among then (something hard to imagine for writers of his calibre/era doing) I doubt things would be quite where they are today.
Do you believe that we now live in a socialist totalitarian state?
Orwell wasn't making a prediction.
Much of his writing after the Spanish civil war was about totalitarianism and the way such Governments distort truth to dupe ordinary people. 1984 was more more written along the lines of "unscrupulaous governments behave in these ways, if you don't recognise this and keep on your guard then the future could end up like this..".
Have a read at this: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm
A brilliant analysis of how people use language to deceive, either others or themselves. He wrote plenty more along the same lines.
Plenty elements of an over weaning nanny state along with it of course the authoritarian dark side, the mother that won't let go.
Whether you want to call that socialist or not I'm not sure. I imagine it is a lot more socialist today even with a tory/liberal coalition than when Orwell was writing.
> Do you believe that we now live in a socialist totalitarian state?
more like a stasi state:
I don't think CCTV is a good example.
CCTV is currently mostly controlled by 'little brother' - and is particularly ineffective at pretty much everything.
BTW you should read Huxleys 'Brave New World' - equally as relevant as 1984
I have read Brave New World, at about the same time I read 1984 and Animal Farm. Yes, it certainly is equally as relevant.
Also, I agree with you that the type of totalitarianism is irrelevant, they are all wrong.
someone told me years ago he wanted to call it 1948 but his publisher wouldn't do it
The totalitarian states his dystopias were based on were the Nazi and Marxist states, which were certainly as brutal and absolutist as anybody could imagine (or wish for). We certainly do not have a totalitarian state in Britain, to say so is ridiculous hyperbole. 1984 was very much of a piece with Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, and several other dystopic novels of the time, though as others have rightly said, 1984 was neither a prediction nor an instruction manual, but a warning, as all good dystopias are. The author of course does not want his "predictions" to come true, that is the point of writing the book. Animal Farm was a bit different as it was allegorical history of the Soviet revolution.
Clearly this professor is simply trying to make a name for himself by being controversial for the sake of it, and not very intelligently so either. But I had forgotten just how good some of Orwell's essays are till this thread and another one recently provoked me into re-reading a couple of them. His extreme lucidity and ability to cut through bullshit and to speak plainly but eloquently and to the point is invaluable.
Orwell made a ton of wrong predictions, as anyone who has read his essays will attest. He made so many specific predictions concerning the direction of post-war politics that he was bound to be wrong on many fronts.
This is in no way surprising, nor does it detract from his genius. Prediction, as someone once said, is difficult - especially of the future.
Allegedly Heisenberg, though this may be apocryphal.
The fact that I can agree to meet a mate in the pub of an evening and know that if he/she doesn't turn up, it is because they are an unreliable bastard, not because the KGB has arrested them on the street and they have disappeared into the gulag for years on end or forever, or been subject to summary execution. Also that if I get worried, I can contact the police who will look for them if I have any reason to suppose that anything bad has happened to them.
The fact that paranoid left-wing idiots can bang on about evil capitalist conspiracies with evil secret police dragging "progressives" away in the night and how there are wheels within wheels etc on the internet (or even in the pub, but hopefully not the same one as I am in, either with my mate or waiting for the exasperating git to turn up), and nothing happens apart from everyone else gives a weary sigh and ignores them as they post links to yet another crackpot conspiracist website.
There is plenty going on 'behind the scenes', I have no doubt.
But, that so much of it comes out one way or another (see wikileaks for a good example) suggests that frankly they just aren't competent to keep the mass conspiracies so many claim going.
Amusingly often the same people moan that the government are incompetent in various ways, but at the same time manage to be running multiple deep mass conspiracies with no real evidence ever proven - yet manage to mess up even the simplest cover up operations when things do go wrong.
Of course, that might all be part of 'the big conspiracy'.
But if it's really that deep that they've managed to hide all the really competent people or get them to live such amazing lies - good luck to them!
I asked one yank what they were going to do
"Oh, just have a walk up to his place and read a couple of chapters"
This was a fair walk as his house was at the far north of the Island, still I guess they could have gone a bit further and seen corryveckan at the same time.
de mind Broglies
I broadly agree but sometimes the paranoid left-wing idiots are right.
Addressing parliament, Cameron said that "on the balance of probability", an officer or officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did propose Finucane as a target to loyalist terrorists.
The prime minister admitted that the report made for "extremely difficult reading" in regard to Sir Desmond de Silva's findings, such as the revelation that 80% of the Ulster Defence Association's intelligence information came from official state sources.
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