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Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:20 AM

Orwell wrote more than '1984' and 'Animal Farm'

Many opponents of the current campaign against the Daesh invoke Orwell's 1984 concept of perpetual warfare as a source of their opposition.

But he wrote more than that. The following essay is the one which seems to be the inspiration of his "rough men" misquote

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George Orwell - Notes on Nationalism

http://orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the word, we have the thing in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

So long as it is applied merely to the more notorious and identifiable nationalist movements in Germany, Japan, and other countries, all this is obvious enough. Confronted with a phenomenon like Nazism, which we can observe from the outside, nearly all of us would say much the same things about it. But here I must repeat what I said above, that I am only using the word ‘nationalism’ for lack of a better. Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism. It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to one's own country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist. To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted.

~ snip ~

(v) Pacifism. The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransfered.

~ snip ~

If one harbours anywhere in one's mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. Here are just a few examples. I list below five types of nationalist, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts:

- BRITISH TORY: Britain will come out of this war with reduced power and prestige.

- COMMUNIST: If she had not been aided by Britain and America, Russia would have been defeated by Germany.

- IRISH NATIONALIST: Eire can only remain independent because of British protection.

- TROTSKYIST: The Stalin regime is accepted by the Russian masses.

- PACIFIST: Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

All of these facts are grossly obvious if one's emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also intolerable, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial. I come back to the astonishing failure of military prediction in the present war. It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. When Hitler invaded Russia, the officials of the MOI issued ‘as background’ a warning that Russia might be expected to collapse in six weeks. On the other hand the Communists regarded every phase of the war as a Russian victory, even when the Russians were driven back almost to the Caspian Sea and had lost several million prisoners. There is no need to multiply instances. The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified — still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.

~ snip ~

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Orwell wrote more than '1984' and 'Animal Farm' (Original post)
FrodosPet Sep 2014 OP
cali Sep 2014 #1
FrodosPet Sep 2014 #3
cali Sep 2014 #5
Seeking Serenity Sep 2014 #2
BrotherIvan Sep 2014 #4
BillZBubb Sep 2014 #6

Response to FrodosPet (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:59 AM

1. what is your point? Are you suggesting

 

that those of us who oppose this new war fit this description:

But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries.

As an aside, I've long appreciated this pithy summation of nationalism

Nationalism is a state of mind wherein a man hates another country more than he loves his own.

Friedrich Percival Reck-Malleczewen from Diary of a Man in Despair, his account of life in Nazi Germany. He was executed at Dachau in 1945.

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Response to cali (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 12:12 PM

3. For some? Absolutely!

I believe that most people opposed to the President's actions are guided by a true and humane desire for peace. But there are some whose desires are motivated by opposition to the western world. They want the United States laid low as punishment for our past sins. They refuse to watch the videos or read the information produced by the Daesh, or they claim that these actions are defensive in nature.

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Response to FrodosPet (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 12:41 PM

5. and some people just want to bomb the shit out of Muslims.

 

you can find people on the extremes quite easily.

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Response to FrodosPet (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 12:03 PM

2. See my sig line

Been using it for a while now. And it's applicable to far more than just nation-states. From nation-states to political parties and ideologies right down to the most banal and minuscule local cliques. The minute one adopts a "my side, right or wrong" and "you're either with me or against me," you are an authoritarian and no friend to democracy or community.

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Response to Seeking Serenity (Reply #2)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 12:38 PM

4. Well said

The mental gymnastics in order to defend the indefensible is always petty and disgusting. And yet, it is quite revealing that Democrats are just as good at is as rwnjs. And this time, the cry is not in defense of our country, but about defending a single person or personality. Even Bush's 23%ers didn't have that kind of hubris. Now, calling for peace is considered "ponies and rainbows."

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Response to FrodosPet (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:46 PM

6. Orwell wrote a lot of stuff.

Some good, some not so good. He also was often derided for inconsistency in his political views.

In this particular case, Orwell's rant against pacifists given here is very shallow. He creates a straw man argument where, as someone like a Hannity or Limbaugh would do, he defines his own few possible motivations for pacifism then proceeds to attack them.

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