Orwell Sourceblog

Neglected Orwell passages for the connoisseur.
(Extracts apportioned titles which seemed appropriate.)

Europe.
‘Most of the dangers that I have outlined existed and were foreseeable long before the atomic bomb was invented. The only way of avoiding them that I can imagine is to present somewhere or other, on a large scale, the spectacle of a community where people are relatively free and happy and where the main motive in life is not the pursuit of money or power. In other words, democratic Socialism must be made to work throughout some large area. But the only area in which it could conceivably be made to work, in any near future, is Western Europe. Apart from Australia and New Zealand, the tradition of democratic Socialism can only be said to exist — even there it only exists precariously — in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the Low Countries, France, Britain, Spain, and Italy.
Only in those countries are there still large numbers of people to whom the word ‘Socialism’ has some appeal, and for whom it is bound up with liberty, equality, and internationalism. Elsewhere it either has no foot-hold or it means something different. In North America the masses are contented with capitalism, and one cannot tell what turn they will take when capitalism begins to collapse. In the U.S.S.R. there prevails a sort of oligarchical collectivism which could only develop into democratic Socialism against the will of the ruling minority. Into Asia even the word ‘Socialism’ has barely penetrated. The Asiatic nationalist movements are either Fascist in character, or look towards Moscow, or manage to combine both attitudes: and at present all movements among the coloured peoples are tinged by racial mysticism. In most of South America the position is essentially similar, so is it in Africa and the Middle East.
Socialism does not exist anywhere, but even as an idea it is at present valid only in Europe. Of course, Socialism cannot properly be said to be established until it is world-wide, but the process must begin somewhere, and I cannot imagine it beginning except through the federation of the western European states, transformed into Socialist republics without colonial dependencies. Therefore a Socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worth-while political objective today.
Such a federation would contain about 250 million people, including perhaps half the skilled industrial workers of the world. I do not need to be told that the difficulties of bringing any such thing into being are enormous and terrifying, and I will list some of them in a moment. But we ought not to feel that it is of its nature impossible, or that countries so different from one another would not voluntarily unite. A western European union is in itself a less improbable concatenation than the Soviet Union or the British Empire.’
http://orwell.ru/library/articles/European_Unity/english/e_teu

***

Understanding Hitler
‘It is a sign of the speed at which events are moving that Hurst and Blackett’s unexpurgated edition of Mein Kampf, published only a year ago, is edited from a pro-Hitler angle. The obvious’intention of the translator’s preface and notes is to tone down the book’s ferocity and present Hitler in as kindly a light as possible. For at that date Hitler was still respectable. He had crushed the German labour movement, and for that the property-owning classes were willing to forgive him almost anything. Both Left and Right concurred in the very shallow notion that National Socialism was merely a version of Conservatism.
Then suddenly it turned out that Hitler was not respectable after all. As one result of this, Hurst and Blackett’s edition was reissued in a new jacket explaining that all profits would be devoted to the Red Cross. Nevertheless, simply on the internal evidence of Mein Kampf, it is difficult to believe that any real change has taken place in Hitler’s aims and opinions. When one compares his utterances of a year or so ago with those made fifteen years earlier, a thing that strikes one is the rigidity of his mind, the way in which his world-view doesn’t develop. It is the fixed vision of a monomaniac and not likely to be much affected by the temporary manoeuvres of power politics. Probably, in Hitler’s own mind, the Russo-German Pact represents no more than an alteration of time-table. The plan laid down in Mein Kampf was to smash Russia first, with the implied intention of smashing England afterwards.
Now, as it has turned out, England has got to be dealt with first, because Russia was the more easily bribed of the two. But Russia’s turn will come when England is out of the picture – that, no doubt, is how Hitler sees it. Whether it will turn out that way is of course a different question.
Suppose that Hitler’s programme could be put into effect. What he envisages, a hundred years hence, is a continuous state of 250 million Germans with plenty of “living room” (i.e. stretching to Afghanistan or thereabouts), a horrible brainless empire in which, essentially, nothing ever happens except the training of young men for war and the endless breeding of fresh cannon-fodder. How was it that he was able to put this monstrous vision across? It is easy to say that at one stage of his career he was financed by the heavy industrialists who saw in him the man who would smash the Socialists and Communists. They would not have backed him, however if he had not talked a great movement into existence already. Again, the situation in Germany, with its seven million unemployed, was obviously favourable for demagogues. But Hitler could not have succeeded against his many rivals if it had not been for the attraction of his own personality, which one can feel even in the clumsy writing of Mein Kampf, and which is no doubt overwhelming when one hears his speeches .

[passage below cut from online versions. Published in CELJ 1968]

I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power – until then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter – I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity.
Available on BBC
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/hiddenpersuaders/blog/orwell-post-truth-politics/

The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs – and I recommend especially the photograph at the beginning of Hurst and Blackett’s edition which shows Hitler in his early Brownshirt days. It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is here. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.
Also he has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers: tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life.
The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples.
Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people « I offer you a good time, » Hitler has said to them « I offer you struggle, danger and death, » and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation « Greatest happiness of the greatest number » is a good slogan, but at this moment « Better an end with horror than a horror without end » is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Review of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (1940)
https://www.panarchy.org/orwell/meinkampf.html

***

Politics and the English Language.
“As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house…
When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity.

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.”
http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit/

***

Rudyard Kipling
‘But because he identifies himself with the official class, he does possess one thing which ‘enlightened’ people seldom or never possess, and that is a sense of responsibility. The middle-class Left hate him for this quite as much as for his cruelty and vulgarity. All left-wing parties in the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something which they do not really wish to destroy. They have internationalist aims, and at the same time they struggle to keep up a standard of life with which those aims are incompatible. We all live by robbing Asiatic coolies, and those of us who are ‘enlightened’ all maintain that those coolies ought to be set free; but our standard of living, and hence our ‘enlightenment’, demands that the robbery shall continue. A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, ‘making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep’. It is true that Kipling does not understand the economic aspect of the relationship between the highbrow and the blimp. He does not see that the map is painted red chiefly in order that the coolie may be exploited. Instead of the coolie he sees the Indian Civil Servant; but even on that plane his grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.’
http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/kipling/english/e_rkip

***

The BBC
‘I believe that the B.B.C., in spite of the stupidity of its foreign propaganda and the unbearable voices of its announcers, is very truthful. It is generally regarded here as more reliable than the press.’
London Letter to Partisan Review
London NW8
15 April 1941

***

IN A LETTER published in this week’s Tribune, someone attacks me rather violently for saying that the B.B.C. is a better source of news than the daily papers, and is so regarded by the public. I have never, he suggests, heard ordinary working men shouting ‘Turn that dope off! ‘when the news bulletin comes on.
On the contrary, I have heard this frequently. Still more frequently I have seen the customers in a pub go straight on with their darts, music and so forth without the slightest slackening of noise when the news bulletin began. But it was not my claim that anyone likes the B.B.C., or thinks it interesting, or grown-up, or democratic, or progressive. I said only that people regard it as a relatively sound source of news. Again and again I have known people, when they see some doubtful item of news, wait to have it confirmed by the radio before they believe it. Social surveys show the same thing—i.e. that as against the radio the prestige of newspapers has declined.
And I repeat what I said before—that in my experience the B.B.C. is relatively truthful and, above all, has a responsible attitude towards news and does not disseminate lies simply because they are ‘newsy’.
Of course, untrue statements are constantly being broadcast and anyone can tell you of instances. But in most cases this is due to genuine error, and the B.B.C. sins much more by simply avoiding anything controversial than by direct propaganda. And after all—a point not met by our correspondent—its reputation abroad is comparatively high. Ask any refugee from Europe which of the belligerent radios is considered to be the most truthful. So also in Asia. Even in India, where the population are so hostile that they will not listen to British propaganda and will hardly listen to a British entertainment programme, they listen to B.B.C. news because they believe that it approximates to the truth.
Even if the B.B.C. passes on the British official lies, it does make some effort to sift the others. Most of the newspapers, for instance, have continued to publish without any query as to their truthfulness the American claims to have sunk the entire Japanese fleet several times over. The B.B.C., to my knowledge, developed quite early on an attitude of suspicion towards this and certain other unreliable sources. On more than one occasion I have known a newspaper to print a piece of news—and news unfavourable to Britain—on no other authority than the German radio, because it was ‘newsy’ and made a good ‘para’.
If you see something obviously untruthful in a newspaper and ring up to ask ‘Where did you get that from?’ you are usually put off with the formula: ‘I’m afraid Mr So-and-So is not in the office.’ If you persist, you generally find that the story has no basis whatever but that it looked like a good bit of news, so in it went. Except where libel is involved, the average journalist is astonished and even contemptuous if anyone bothers about accuracy with regard to names, dates, figures and other details. And any daily journalist will tell you that one of the most important secrets of his trade is the trick of making it appear that there is news when there is no news.
As I Please. Tribune 21 April 1944.
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19440421.html

***

Original Sin
“AN argument that Socialists ought to be prepared to meet, since it is brought up constantly both by Christian apologists and by neo-pessimists such as James Burnham, is the alleged immutability of ‘human nature’.
Socialists are accused—I think without justification—of assuming that Man is perfectible, and it is then pointed out that human history is in fact one long tale of greed, robbery and oppression. Man, it is said, will always try to get the better of his neighbour, he will always hog as much property as possible for himself and his family. Man is of his nature sinful, and cannot be made virtuous by Act of Parliament. Therefore, though economic exploitation can be controlled to some extent, the classless society is for ever impossible.
The proper answer, it seems to me, is that this argument belongs to the Stone Age. It presupposes that material goods will always be desperately scarce. The power hunger of human beings does indeed present a serious problem, but there is no reason for thinking that the greed for mere wealth is a permanent human characteristic.
We are selfish in economic matters because we all live in terror of poverty. But when a commodity is not scarce, no one tries to grab more than his fair share of it. No one tries to make a corner in air, for instance. The millionaire as well as the beggar is content with just so much air as he can breathe. Or, again, water. In this country we are not troubled by lack of water. If anything we have too much of it, especially on Bank Holidays. As a result water hardly enters into our consciousness. Yet in dried-up countries like North Africa, what jealousies, what hatreds, what appalling crimes the lack of water can cause!
So also with any other kind of goods. If they were made plentiful, as they so easily might be, there is no reason to think that the supposed acquisitive instincts of the human being could not be bred out in a couple of generations. And after all, if human nature never changes, why is it that we not only don’t practise cannibalism any longer, but don’t even want to?’
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19440721.html

***

Pacifism
‘For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself. War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil. Those who take the sword perish by the sword, and those who don’t take the sword perish by smelly diseases.
The fact that such a platitude is worth writing down shows what the years of rentier capitalism have done to us.’
‘Looking Back on The Spanish War’
http://orwell.ru/library/essays/Spanish_War/english/esw_1

***

Ghandi, Pacifism and the Sanctity of Life
‘Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: “What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?” I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the “you’re another” type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer’s Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi’s view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.” After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.’
Reflections on Ghandi
http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/site/work/essays/ghandi.html

Post-Truth
‘Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists. There is, for instance, no such thing as ‘Science’. There is only ‘German Science’, ‘Jewish Science’, etc. The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, ‘It never happened’ — well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five — well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs — and after our experiences of the last few years that is not a frivolous statement.’
http://orwell.ru/library/essays/Spanish_War/english/esw_1

Credulity
“Somewhere or other—I think it is in the preface to Saint Joan—Bernard Shaw remarks that we are more gullible and superstitious today than we were in the Middle Ages, and as an example of modern credulity he cites the widespread belief that the earth is round. The average man, says Shaw, can advance not a single reason for thinking that the earth is round. He merely swallows this theory because there is something about it that appeals to the twentieth-century mentality.
Now, Shaw is exaggerating, but there is something in what he says, and the question is worth following up, for the sake of the light it throws on modern knowledge. Just why do we believe that the earth is round? I am not speaking of the few thousand astronomers, geographers and so forth who could give ocular proof, or have a theoretical knowledge of the proof, but of the ordinary newspaper-reading citizen, such as you or me.
As for the Flat Earth theory, I believe I could refute it. If you stand by the seashore on a clear day, you can see the masts and funnels of invisible ships passing along the horizons. This phenomenon can only be explained by assuming that the earth’s surface is curved. But it does not follow that the earth is spherical. Imagine another theory called the Oval Earth theory, which claims that the earth is shaped like an egg. What can I say against it?
Against the Oval Earth man, the first card I can play is the analogy of the sun and moon. The Oval Earth man promptly answers that I don’t know, by my own observation, that those bodies are spherical. I only know that they are round, and they may perfectly well be flat discs. I have no answer to that one. Besides, he goes on, what reason have I for thinking that the earth must be the same shape as the sun and moon? I can’t answer that one either.
My second card is the earth’s shadow: when cast on the moon during eclipses, it appears to be the shadow of a round object. But how do I know, demands the Oval Earth man, that eclipses of the moon are caused by the shadow of the earth? The answer is that I don’t know, but have taken this piece of information blindly from newspaper articles and science booklets.
Defeated in the minor exchanges, I now play my queen of trumps: the opinion of the experts. The Astronomer Royal, who ought to know, tells me that the earth is round. The Oval Earth man covers the queen with his king. Have I tested the Astronomer Royal’s statement, and would I even know a way of testing it? Here I bring out my ace. Yes, I do know one test. The astronomers can foretell eclipses, and this suggests that their opinions about the solar system are pretty sound. I am therefore justified in accepting their say-so about the shape of the earth.
If the Oval Earth man answers—what I believe is true—that the ancient Egyptians, who thought the sun goes round the earth, could also predict eclipses, then bang goes my ace. I have only one card left: navigation. People can sail ships round the world, and reach the places they aim at, by calculations which assume that the earth is spherical. I believe that finishes the Oval Earth man, though even then he may possibly have some kind of counter.
It will be seen that my reasons for thinking that the earth is round are rather precarious ones. Yet this is an exceptionally elementary piece of information. On most other questions I should have to fall back on the expert much earlier, and would be less able to test his pronouncements. And much the greater part of our knowledge is at this level. It does not rest on reasoning or on experiment, but on authority. And how can it be otherwise, when the range of knowledge is so vast that the expert himself is an ignoramous as soon as he strays away from his own speciality? Most people, if asked to prove that the earth is round, would not even bother to produce the rather weak arguments I have outlined above. They would start off by saying that ’everyone knows’ the earth to be round, and if pressed further, would become angry. In a way Shaw is right. This is a credulous age, and the burden of knowledge which we now have to carry is partly responsible.
As I Please
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19461227.html

***

Metric
Another thing I am against in advance—for it is bound to be suggested sooner or later—is the complete scrapping of our present system of weights and measures.
Obviously you have got to have the metric system for certain purposes. For scientific work it has long been in use, and it is also needed for tools and machinery, especially if you want to export them. But there is a strong case for keeping on the old measurements for use in everyday life. One reason is that the metric system does not possess, or has not succeeded in establishing, a large number of units that can be visualized. There is, for instance, effectively no unit between the metre, which is more than a yard, and the centimetre, which is less than half an inch. In English you can describe someone as being five feet three inches high, or five feet nine inches, or six feet one inch, and your bearer will know fairly accurately what you mean. But I have never heard a Frenchman say, ‘He is a hundred and forty-two centimetres high’; it would not convey any visual image. So also with the various other measurements. Rods and acres, pints, quarts and gallons, pounds, stones and hundredweights, are all of them units with which we are intimately familiar, and we should be slightly poorer without them. Actually, in countries where the metric system is in force a few of the old measurements tend to linger on for everyday purposes, although officially discouraged.
There is also the literary consideration, which cannot be left quite out of account. The names of the units in the old system are short homely words which lend themselves to vigorous speech. Putting a quart into a pint pot is a good image, which could hardly be expressed in the metric system. Also, the literature of the past deals only in the old measurements, and many passages would become an irritation if one had to do a sum in arithmetic when one read them, as one does with those tiresome verses in a Russian novel.

The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
Make lame philosophy to smile:

fancy having to turn that into millimetres!
As I Please
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19470314.html

***

The Delusion of Individual Freedom under Totalitarianism
“The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside. Quite a number of people console themselves with this thought, now that totalitarianism in one form or another is visibly on the up-grade in every part of the world. Out in the street the loudspeakers bellow, the flags flutter from the rooftops, the police with their tommy-guns prowl to and fro, the face of the Leader, four feet wide, glares from every hoarding; but up in the attics the secret enemies of the regime can record their thoughts in perfect freedom — that is the idea, more or less. And many people are under the impression that this is going on now in Germany and other dictatorial countries.
Why is this idea false? I pass over the fact that modern dictatorships don’t, in fact, leave the loopholes that the old-fashioned despotisms did; and also the probable weakening of the desire for intellectual liberty owing to totalitarian methods of education. The greatest mistake is to imagine that the human being is an autonomous individual. The secret freedom which you can supposedly enjoy under a despotic government is nonsense, because your thoughts are never entirely your own. Philosophers, writers, artists, even scientists, not only need encouragement and an audience, they need constant stimulation from other people. It is almost impossible to think without talking. If Defoe had really lived on a desert island, he could not have written Robinson Crusoe, nor would he have wanted to. Take away freedom of speech, and the creative faculties dry up. Had the Germans really got to England my acquaintance of the Cafe Royal would soon have found his painting deteriorating, even if the Gestapo had let him alone. And when the lid is taken off Europe, I believe one of the things that will surprise us will be to find how little worthwhile writing of any kind — even such things as diaries, for instance — has been produced in secret under the dictators.”
As I Please
http://orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/eaip_04

***

The Absurdity of War.
‘ It is commonly assumed that what human beings want is to be comfortable. Well, we now have it in our power to be comfortable, as our ancestors had not. Nature may occasionally hit back with an earthquake or a cyclone, but by and large she is beaten. And yet exactly at the moment when there is, or could be, plenty of everything for everybody, nearly our whole energies have to be taken up in trying to grab territories, markets and raw materials from one another. Exactly at the moment when wealth might be so generally diffused that no government need fear serious opposition, political liberty is declared to be impossible and half the world is ruled by secret police forces. Exactly at the moment when superstition crumbles and a rational attitude towards the universe becomes feasible, the right to think one’s own thoughts is denied as never before. The fact is that human beings only started fighting one another in earnest when there was no longer anything to fight about. ‘
‘As I Please’ 29/11/1946.
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19461129.html

***

Marx and Christ.
LOOKING through Chesterton’s Introduction to Hard Times in the Everyman Edition (incidentally, Chesterton’s Introductions to Dickens are about the best thing he ever wrote), I note the typically sweeping statement: ‘There are no new ideas.’ Chesterton is here claiming that the ideas which animated the French Revolution were not new ones but simply a revival of doctrines which had flourished earlier and then been abandoned. But the claim that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ is one of the stock arguments of intelligent reactionaries. Catholic apologists, in particular, use it almost automatically. Everything that you can say or think has been said or thought before. Every political theory from Liberalism to Trotskyism can be shown to be a development of some heresy in the early Church. Every system of philosophy springs ultimately from the Greeks. Every scientific theory (if we are to believe the popular Catholic press) was anticipated by Roger Bacon and others in the thirteenth century. Some Hindu thinkers go even further and claim that not merely the scientific theories, but the products of applied science as well, aeroplanes, radio and the whole bag of tricks, were known to the ancient Hindus, who afterwards dropped them as being unworthy of their attention.
It is not very difficult to see that this idea is rooted in the fear of progress. If there is nothing new under the sun, if the past in some shape or another always returns, then the future when it comes will be something familiar. At any rate what will never come—since it has never come before—is that hated, dreaded thing, a world of free and equal human beings. Particularly comforting to reactionary thinkers is the idea of a cyclical universe, in which the same chain of events happens over and over again. In such a universe every seeming advance towards democracy simply means that the coming age of tyranny and privilege is a bit nearer. This belief, obviously superstitious though it is, is widely held nowadays, and is common among Fascists and near-Fascists.
In fact, there are new ideas. The idea that an advanced civilization need not rest on slavery is a relatively new idea, for instance: it is a good deal younger than the Christian religion. But even if Chesterton’s dictum were true, it would only be true in the sense that a statue is contained in every block of stone. Ideas may not change, but emphasis shifts constantly. It could be claimed, for example, that the most important part of Marx’s theory is contained in the saying: ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ But before Marx developed it, what force had that saying had? Who had paid any attention to it? Who had inferred from it—what it certainly implies—that laws, religions and moral codes are all a superstructure built over existing property relations? It was Christ, according to the Gospel, who uttered the text, but it was Marx who brought it to life. And ever since he did so the motives of politicians, priests, judges, moralists and millionaires have been under the deepest suspicion—which, of course, is why they hate him so.
As I Please. 25 February 1944 much.http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19440225.html

***

‘Why Socialists Don’t believe in Fun’ (1943)’
‘I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue.
…Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache. They wanted to produce a perfect society by an endless continuation of something that had only been valuable because it was temporary. The wider course would be to say that there are certain lines along which humanity must move, the grand strategy is mapped out, but detailed prophecy is not our business. Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness. This is the case even with a great writer like Swift, who can flay a bishop or a politician so neatly, but who, when he tries to create a superman, merely leaves one with the impression the very last he can have intended that the stinking Yahoos had in them more possibility of development than the enlightened Houyhnhnms.”
http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/site/work/essays/fun.html

***

Via Orwell..
Notebooks of Samuel Butler. ‘Style’

‘I never knew a writer yet who took the smallest pains with his style and was at the same time readable. Plato’s having had seventy shies at one sentence is quite enough to explain to me why I dislike him. A man may, and ought to take a great deal of pains to write clearly, tersely and euphemistically: he will write many a sentence three or four times over—to do much more than this is worse than not rewriting at all: he will be at great pains to see that he does not repeat himself, to arrange his matter in the way that shall best enable the reader to master it, to cut out superfluous words and, even more, to eschew irrelevant matter: but in each case he will be thinking not of his own style but of his reader’s convenience.’
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6173/6173-h/6173-h.htm

***

Yeats. (Astrology & Fascism)
‘How do Yeat’s political ideas link up with his leaning towards occultism? It is not clear at first glance why hatred of democracy and a tendency to believe in crystal-gazing should go together. Mr Menon only discusses this rather shortly, but it is possible to make two guesses. To begin with, the theory that civilisation moves in recurring cycles is one way out for people who hate the concept of human equality. If it is true that “all this”, or something like it, “has happened before”, then science and the modern world are debunked at one stroke and progress becomes for ever impossible. It does not much matter if the lower orders are getting above themselves, for, after all, we shall soon be returning to an age of tyranny. Yeats is by no means alone in this outlook. If the universe is moving round on a wheel, the future must be foreseeable, perhaps even in some detail. It is merely a question of discovering the laws of its motion, as the early astronomers discovered the solar year. Believe that, and it becomes difficult not to believe in astrology or some similar system. A year before the war, examining a copy of Gringoire, the French Fascist weekly, much read by army officers, I found in it no less than thirty-eight advertisements of clairvoyants. Secondly, the very concept of occultism carries with it the idea that knowledge must be a secret thing, limited to a small circle of initiates. But the same idea is integral to Fascism. Those who dread the prospect of universal suffrage, popular education, freedom of thought, emancipation of women, will start off with a predilection towards secret cults. There is another link between Fascism and magic in the profound hostility of both to the Christian ethical code.’
http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/yeats/english/e_yeats

***

Swift Anarchism & Orthodoxy
‘Part IV of Gulliver’s Travels is a picture of an anarchistic Society, not governed by law in the ordinary sense, but by the dictates of ‘Reason’, which arc voluntarily accepted by everyone. The General Assembly of the Houyhnhnms ‘exhorts’ Gulliver’s master to get rid of him, and his neighbours put pressure on him to make him comply. Two reasons are given. One is that the presence of this unusual Yahoo may unsettle the rest of the tribe, and the other is that a friendly relationship between a Houyhnhnm and a Yahoo is ‘not agreeable to Reason or Nature, or a Thing ever heard of before among them’. Gulliver’s master is somewhat unwilling to obey, but the ‘exhortation’ (a Houyhnhnm, we are told, is never compelledto do anything, he is merely ‘exhorted’ or ‘advised’) cannot be disregarded. This illustrates very well the totalitarian tendency which is explicit in the anarchist or pacifist vision of Society. In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by ‘thou shalt not’, the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by ‘love’ or ‘reason’, he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.
Politics Versus Literature.
http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/swift/english/e_swift

***

Clive James on Orwell
‘Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’ But you guessed straight away: George Orwell. The subject stated up front, the sudden acceleration from the scope-widening parenthesis into the piercing argument that follows, the way the obvious opposition between ‘lies’ and ‘truthful’ leads into the shockingly abrupt coupling of ‘murder’ and ‘respectable’, the elegant, reverse-written coda clinched with a dirt-common epithet, the whole easy-seeming poise and compact drive of it, a world view compressed to the size of a motto from a fortune cookie, demanding to be read out and sayable in a single breath..”
http://www.clivejames.com/evenaswespeak/orwell

***

Socialism, Capitalism and Fascism
‘What this war has demonstrated is that private capitalism – that is, an economic system in which land, factories, mines and transport are owned privately and operated solely for profit – does not work. It cannot deliver the goods. This fact had been known to millions of people for years past, but nothing ever came of it, because there was no real urge from below to alter the system, and those at the top had trained themselves to be impenetrably stupid on just this point. Argument and propaganda got one nowhere. The lords of property simply sat on their bottoms and proclaimed that all was for the best. Hitler’s conquest of Europe, however, was a physical debunking of capitalism. War, for all its evil, is at any rate an unanswerable test of strength, like a try-your-grip machine. Great strength returns the penny, and there is no way of faking the result.
When the nautical screw was first invented, there was a controversy that lasted for years as to whether screw-steamers or paddle-steamers were better. The paddle-steamers, like all obsolete things, had their champions, who supported them by ingenious arguments. Finally, however, a distinguished admiral tied a screw-steamer and a paddle-steamer of equal horsepower stern to stern and set their engines running. That settled the question once and for all. And it was something similar that happened on the fields of Norway and of Flanders. Once and for all it was proved that a planned economy is stronger than a planless one. But it is necessary here to give some kind of definition to those much-abused words, Socialism and Fascism.
Socialism is usually defined as ‘common ownership of the means of production’. Crudely: the State, representing the whole nation, owns everything, and everyone is a State employee. This does not mean that people are stripped of private possessions such as clothes and furniture, but it does mean that all productive goods, such as land, mines, ships and machinery, are the property of the State. The State is the sole large-scale producer. It is not certain that Socialism is in all ways superior to capitalism, but it is certain that, unlike capitalism, it can solve the problems of production and consumption. At normal times a capitalist economy can never consume all that it produces, so that there is always a wasted surplus (wheat burned in furnaces, herrings dumped back into the sea etc. etc.) and always unemployment. In time of war, on the other hand, it has difficulty in producing all that it needs, because nothing is produced unless someone sees his way to making a profit out of it.
In a Socialist economy these problems do not exist. The State simply calculates what goods will be needed and does its best to produce them. Production is only limited by the amount of labour and raw materials. Money, for internal purposes, ceases to be a mysterious all-powerful thing and becomes a sort of coupon or ration-ticket, issued in sufficient quantities to buy up such consumption goods as may be available at the moment.
However, it has become clear in the last few years that ‘common ownership of the means of production’ is not in itself a sufficient definition of Socialism. One must also add the following: approximate equality of incomes (it need be no more than approximate), political democracy, and abolition of all hereditary privilege, especially in education. These are simply the necessary safeguards against the reappearance of a class-system. Centralized ownership has very little meaning unless the mass of the people are living roughly upon an equal level, and have some kind of control over the government. ‘The State’ may come to mean no more than a self-elected political party, and oligarchy and privilege can return, based on power rather than on money.
But what then is Fascism?
Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes. Internally, Germany has a good deal in common with a Socialist state. Ownership has never been abolished, there are still capitalists and workers, and – this is the important point, and the real reason why rich men all over the world tend to sympathize with Fascism – generally speaking the same people are capitalists and the same people workers as before the Nazi revolution. But at the same time the State, which is simply the Nazi Party, is in control of everything. It controls investment, raw materials, rates of interest, working hours, wages. The factory owner still owns his factory, but he is for practical purposes reduced to the status of a manager. Everyone is in effect a State employee, though the salaries vary very greatly. The mere efficiency of such a system, the elimination of waste and obstruction, is obvious. In seven years it has built up the most powerful war machine the world has ever seen. But the idea underlying Fascism is irreconcilably different from that which underlies Socialism.
Socialism aims, ultimately, at a world-state of free and equal human beings. It takes the equality of human rights for granted. Nazism assumes just the opposite. The driving force behind the Nazi movement is the belief in human inequality, the superiority of Germans to all other races, the right of Germany to rule the world. Outside the German Reich it does not recognize any obligations. Eminent Nazi professors have ‘proved’ over and over again that only nordic man is fully human, have even mooted the idea that non-nordic peoples (such as ourselves) can interbreed with gorillas! Therefore, while a species of war-Socialism exists within the German state, its attitude towards conquered nations is frankly that of an exploiter. The function of the Czechs, Poles, French, etc. is simply to produce such goods as Germany may need, and get in return just as little as will keep them from open rebellion. If we are conquered, our job will probably be to manufacture weapons for Hitler’s forthcoming wars with Russia and America. The Nazis aim, in effect, at setting up a kind of caste system, with four main castes corresponding rather closely to those of the Hindu religion. At the top comes the Nazi party, second come the mass of the German people, third come the conquered European populations. Fourth and last are to come the coloured peoples, the ‘semi-apes’ as Hitler calls them, who are to be reduced quite openly to slavery.
However horrible this system may seem to us, it works. It works because it is a planned system geared to a definite purpose, world-conquest, and not allowing any private interest, either of capitalist or worker, to stand in its way. British capitalism does not work, because it is a competitive system in which private profit is and must be the main objective. It is a system in which all the forces are pulling in opposite directions and the interests of the individual are as often as not totally opposed to those of the State.
From Lion and The Unicorn
http://orwell.ru/library/essays/lion/english/e_saw

***

The Danger of the Educated Masses
“From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. …They could only become dangerous if the advances of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly.”
From Goldstein’s Book. 1984

***

The Death of Immortality
‘Since the decay of the belief in personal immortality, death has never seemed funny, and it will be a long time before it does so again. Hence the disappearance of the facetious epitaph, once a common feature of country churchyards. I should be astonished to see a comic epitaph dated later than 1850. There is one in Kew, if I remember rightly, which might be about that date. About half the tombstone is covered with a long panegyric on his dead wife by a bereaved husband: at the bottom of the stone is a later inscription which reads, ‘Now he’s gone, too’.
One of the best epitaphs in English is Landor’s epitaph on ‘Dirce’, a pseudonym for I do not know whom. It is not exactly comic, but it is essentially profane. If I were a woman it would be my favourite epitaph—that is to say, it would be the one I should like to have for myself. It runs:
Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat conveyed,
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old and she a shade.
It would almost be worth being dead to have that written about you.’
As I Please
http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19470214.html

***

Immortality
‘Attacking Mr. C. A. Smith and myself in the Malvern Torch for various remarks about the Christian religion, Mr. Sidney Dark grows very angry because I have suggested that the belief in personal immortality is decaying. ‘I would wager’, he says, ‘that if a Gallup poll were taken seventy-five percent (of the British population) would confess to a vague belief in survival’. Writing elsewhere during the same week, Mr. Dark puts it at eighty-five percent.
Now, I find it very rare to meet anyone, of whatever background, who admits to believing in personal immortality. Still, I think it quite likely that if you asked everyone the question and put pencil and paper in hands, a fairly large number (I am not so free with my percentages as Mr. Dark) would admit the possibility that after death there might be ‘something’. The point Mr. Dark has missed is that the belief, such as it is, hasn’t the actuality it had for our forefathers. Never, literally never in recent years, have I met anyone who gave me the impression of believing in the next world as firmly as he believed in the existence of, for instance, Australia. Belief in the next world does not influence conduct as it would if it were genuine. With that endless existence beyond death to look forward to, how trivial our lives here would seem! Most Christians profess to believe in Hell. Yet have you ever met a Christian who seemed as afraid of Hell as he was of cancer? Even very devout Christians will make jokes about Hell. They wouldn’t make jokes about leprosy, or RAF pilots with their faces burnt away: the subject is too painful. Here there springs into my mind a little triolet by the late A. M. Currie:

‘It’s a pity that Poppa has sold his soul
It makes him sizzle at breakfast so.
The money was useful, but still on the whole

It’s a pity that Poppa has sold his soul
When he might have held on like the Baron de Coal
And not cleared out when the price was low.

It’s a pity that Poppa has sold his soul
It makes him sizzle at breakfast so.’

Currie, a Catholic, would presumably have said that he believed in Hell. If his next-door neighbour had been burnt to death he would not have written a comic poem about it, yet he can make jokes about somebody being fried for millions of years. I say that such belief has no reality. It is a sham currency, like the money in Samuel Butler’s Musical Banks.’
April 14, 1944
http://orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/eaip_01

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How to get a Facebook Ban

Just post this in response to the row over the 22 year-old Ben Bradley’s bar-room ramblings.

From what he wrote, the people Bradley mainly has to apologise to are Catholic claimants and other religious fundamentalists denied birth control by their dogmas.
And it isn’t as if the young Bradley’s solution hasn’t been heard in every working class pub in the country.
So beware, you have the right to speak, but anything you do say may be used against you in the court of the future.
So if you have any aspirations for office or position, censor yourself and delete any incriminating evidence.
And if you don’t have any aspirations yet, how do you know you won’t? So better start censoring yourself anyway.
Good luck with trying to think at all while avoiding everything that might get you into trouble to someone, at some point.
After all, you never know whether the heresy might be around the next turn in the train of thought. Or when what you’re saying might become heretical.
The only safe solution is to let slogans, cliches, memes and tropes do your thinking for you.”

After posting this on a right-wing reactionary cult named ‘Another Angry Voice’,  I was banned from Facebook for a month, for arguing against censorship and for intellectual freedom.
How is this possible while tides of explicit hate routinely go unpunished?

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Findings

Austerity Kills. Therefore Tories Kill.

Whatever the findings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, building regulations don’t need to change, everything has to change.
The entire British obsession with property ownership and the stigmatisation of social housing has to end. Social housing is not emergency accommodation for Losers, it is vital infrastucture and a valid choice for those who Just Say No to Debt, and all the sickness, stress and impoverishment it brings.
Place the construction of organic, healthy communities at the top of the list of priorities, and all the other details will follow naturally. And save vast amounts from the NHS, Police and welfare budgets.
If there is a ‘deficit’ then this is the way to reduce it, not by cuts which kill people.

Grenfell Tower. Time for Change

Grenfell Tower is not a new disaster. The dangers of synthetic cladding were highlighted by the Summerland fire of 1973. Which killed over 50 people and injured 80.

And the more information emerges about the disaster, the more it sounds like Aberfan. Only it might even be worse, if possible.
Aberfan was 50 years ago. The authorities were repeatedly warned about that too. And when the inevitable happened, it was as fast and merciless.
The hope is that the Grenfell victims get better after-care than those of 1966.

Those made homeless want cast-iron guarantees now that they will not be dumped in bedsits in Hull or Clacton on a ‘temporary’ basis.
This must not be another excuse for Kensington & Chelsea’s policy of social cleansing, which must end now. The community must not be destroyed further. In fact, North Westminster now needs a completely new organisation to represent its interests, one which should be replicated nationally.
If there aren’t enough spare units on the borough housing list, the Hilton and Dorchester are just down the road.
If there is not enough ‘community spirit’ in the fancy end of Kensington, Grenfell Tower may not be the only fire in the borough this summer. And most British people will completely sympathise, if not approve.

Grenfell Tower. The Eloquence of Experience.

Amid the emerging horror, it was fascinating that all the eye-witnesses of the Grenfell Tower disaster used direct, plain, unaffected language, with none of the, like, I was like… and then I was like… gibberish which infects much modern narrative speech.
These people were not ‘like’ anything, they WERE. Their experiences were not a simile, they were real. Except when the simile was real “it was literally so rapid, like when hair catches fire”
Which suggests that when people can see a concrete image in their minds of something that matters, they can be as eloquent and powerful as Churchill or Orwell.
Which is why when people lapse into language which is as bland and meaningless as possible they are lying; especially politicians, technocrats and billionaires –

•••

Meanwhile, if Teresa May cannot fence herself off from the emerging scandal, she is truly dead, and the election will be even sooner. But even if she can, the tories are will still be blamed, and suffer just as much at the polls.

Trump Idiocracy Notes

Consumerism has degenerated into its inevitable Idiocracy phase.
It can no longer deny its own impossibility, and so has to invert reality and destroy reason.
Ergo Trump.
Fortunately, this phase is even less sustainable than its parent.
Anyone who believes that Trump is an alternative to the ‘establishment’ is as deluded as he is. His brand of total alienation is Hyper-Establishment dogma. This is a triumph over all attempts to moderate Capitalist vandalism – and over free thought.
Trendy Pussyfoot Clinton-Bashing Corbynites gloating over this horror should also be prepared to count the human cost of their opportunism – not that they will see or seize the opportunity when it comes.
Looking at the crippled US political machine, it’s hard not to conclude that the entire pre-industrial Constitution was obsolete when it was written.
It is a primitive model, based on an understandable knee-jerk reaction to feudalism, but with no understanding of the demands of a modern industrial state.
Yesterday proved that American civilisation is now no more advanced than it was 150 years ago. Just like China and Russia, in fact.
The only practical response by sincere scientists to Trump’s Scorched Earth policy is a global strike. His Nero Decree is unworkable without the scientists in the corporations which implement it.
Impossible if you keep peddling the myth that freedom comes without a material cost.
That a socialist society will still have Coke and Mortgages, not merely Bread and Roses.
The fact is that Trump and the Brexiteers are closet anarchists.
And since anarchism is the most efficient form of totalitarianism it is not cool, and not clever. It is merely a descent into tribalism and conflict.
‘Entropy: The tendency of a system that is left to itself to descend into chaos.’
Come back Society – All Is Forgiven.

Brexit Idiocracy Notes

Hammond’s U-Turn and Manifesto Betrayal
The last Manifesto is now about as relevant as those presented to the electorate of Pompeii.
As the Chancellor admits, we now have to bunker down and prepare for the worst.
Which leads to the conclusion that the Brexiteers had absolutely no plan, and the strong implication that they are ideologically incapable of planning.
Just a bunch of Chancers and Cowboys, in other words.

‘The People Have Spoken.

Is the security blanket that preserves the Brexiteer’s threadbare identity.
But Magic, prayers and slogans do not help to completely re-organise Britain’s trading relationships on the hoof.
Handy for wrapping round your eyes to play this mad game of Blind Man’s Bluff.
But even more useful for falling down the stairs and breaking your neck.

Chaos Britain 1

Paul Mason claims in the Guardian that~:

Even if he hasn’t won, Corbyn has publicly destroyed the logic of neoliberalism..

In a way. But he hasn’t uninvented or discredited the free market itself.

The reason New Labour worked was because it appealed to the newly propertied Right To Buy classes.
Now that the housing orgy is over, huge numbers of people, especially young people, have nothing. And Blairism no longer makes sense to them.
The trouble is that the Property Fetish still infects British culture, and if cheap housing ever arrives on the market again, the same shackles will drag people back to the old conservatism.
So if Nu-Age Labour is to fulfil its promises, it must first commit to providing homes for rent, not sale, and encourage the regeneration of real communities, not just cheap dormitories for worker bees.

The Tory party is now on the brink of disintegration over ‘Brexit’. But Labour has no room for complacency. If some get their way, there will be a de-selection war which will tear Labour apart, again. With disloyal and heretical MP’s ousted by local party memberships.
The sound of knives being sharpened is not very good for public relations. Corbyn seems to realise this and is calling for unity.
This would almost certainly put him in conflict with his more bloodthirsty fans.
In which case they would have to be sanctioned in some way.
Shades of Robespierre?

Why did May ever mention the DUP?
Just make a speech ‘trusting the British Parliament to approve the Queen’s Speech’ and let the unionists do what they always do, and vote with the tories.
The DUP wouldn’t even realise they were in a pact. And May would be off the hook – temporarily.

Election Post Mortem 1

Whoever tries to form a government now will outrage half the people.
And whatever kind of Brexit they try to negotiate will only polarise opinion further.
Labour’s best bet might seem to be to let May cause even more chaos and cash in at the inevitable forthcoming election.
But that also might be best bet for the tories. Let Labour form a minority government and trust it fails, which wouldn’t be a long shot.
Either way, May is toast and the Brexit bubble has burst. Negotiations may start or they may not.
Which is worrying given the Klan mentality of extreme Brexiteers, who go on a Hate-Spree when they get their way. When they are confronted with reality they will go ape-shit.

And a vote of thanks to the BBC, and John Humphrys in particular, for eliminating the Chancellor from the campaign in the 1st week.
After being told in extremely non-journalistic terms that his policies had drastically reduced living standards, he was never seen again.
I for one am not complaining about that explicit ‘breach of standards’.
It is Humphrys job to voice the opinions people hold. And it worked exceptionally well in this case.
If the Shadow Chancellor had been subjected to the same presentation of opinion as fact, the Corbynite whingers would be up in arms.


In the Beginning was the Meme.
And the Meme was with Corbyn.
And the Meme was Corbyn.

Corbyn may well have ‘re-written’ the rules of British politics, with his return to the socialist soap box. The trouble is that teeny-prop outlets like The Canary also ‘re-wrote’ the rules by adopting the same perversions of Truth as the gutter tabloids, their main weapon being the so-called ‘Meme’, or cyber-myth.
‘The BBC & The Guardian are Anti-Corbyn’ is what they call a ‘meme’. An unverified assertion which is TRUE! ‘cos it IS!. In other words, baseless gossip, ‘urban myths’ or just plain lies.
Very useful for preventing people from being exposed to alternative opinions and perspectives from the most balanced outlets available.
Great at consolidating orthodoxy and preventing thought.
Extremely toxic.
The fact is that The Guardian’s election coverage would pass the Leveson test. As of course would the BBC.  But The Canary and Occupy would certainly be fined heavily. They exploit the lack of internet regulation as cynically as Murdoch and Dacre exploit the lack of press regulations. And Truth is the victim.

The BBC interviewed some student yesterday who was wetting his pants at how ‘nobody’ reads papers or watches TV anymore, and get all their political information from ‘memes’, and how they were free of all that worrisome context and ambiguity, with no room for interpretation.
John Berger and George Orwell are turning in their graves.

… 
‘Labour can unite the country’
Only if it can change the minds of the hardline Brexiteers.

Stage 1. Catch your rabbit.

Election Day Minus 1

Saxon Autos

Whoever wins tomorrow, this will surely be the most divisive British election since 1979, with each side hardening their positions if they lose or win. In a country already torn apart by the EU Referendum. And everyone blaming the BBC, which has been outrageously slandered and denigrated by the unregulated press and social media, with their usual sub-BBC standards of journalism, and their contempt for Truth, which has been seriously damaged by this campaign.
I don’t see many people waving welcome signs, or offers of reconciliation.
I do see a lot of people reacting out of fear, ignorance, disinformation (lies) or sheer perversity.
And when the Brexit bubble bursts, Brexiteers will react predictably. With hate.
They reacted with a wave of hate when they won. So there is no chance of them behaving any better when the dream goes sour and they feel betrayed by everyone in the universe.
Should Labour win with a working majority, the backlash from Brexit voters and the unregulated billionaire media will be unprecedented.
Should the tories win, but Labour retains roughly the same number of seats, Corbyn will stay as Leader and his devoted followers will follow on. And it will be largely the fault of his more fanatical followers, who have followed the example of the Murdoch and Dacre media in lie-mongering and mudslinging, and been a genuine deterrent to those who get their information through social media. As opposed to the measly 8-11%% of audience figures covered by TV news.
The tories are too geriatric a party to change ideas, and Corbyn is just too old to. A slightly more mentally agile Corbyn would have seen the opportunity 18 months ago for an alliance with the SNP in the Commons to make life hell for the government and its austerity programme. He would have realised that the Information Age has made the current party boundaries as obsolete as the steam engine which created them. And remembered that the Labour Party itself was originally a ‘Progressive Alliance’ of different parties.

If he is to nurture the hope he has come to represent, and form the broad progressive alliance needed to gain power, Corbyn has to radically change a decrepit British political culture in four years.

Irregardless of Corbyn’s many failings, the prospect of another 5 years of tory barbarism and bungling is obviously too much for any informed voter to stomach.
The problem with Corbyn’s quaint brand of ‘socialism in one country’ is that it requires significant sacrifices from the People to make it work. And there is no sign of the Dunkirk Spirit, especially from those who glorify it most.
A fair, equal, decent society simply cannot be run on the bear-pit principles of modern Consumerism. Constant conflict and constant consumption only makes us and the planet sick, as the plague of ‘Terrorism’ demonstrates. It is not a permanent theme park with all rides free but a battle to restore genuine communities to society, which nurture common interests and tolerant, open exchange of ideas and conventions.
The kind of communities which existed before the Right to Buy drove a wedge between people and stole their spare time – which used to be the lifeblood of community initiatives.
The kind of communities which existed before mountains of debt shackled people’s minds and robbed young people of any positive sense of Identity other than as a cash-cow for the banks.
And all this will require a distinct fall in average living standards, as measured now.
To use the word in its most illustrious sense, progress will need more ‘Austerity’, not less.
No Labour politician has yet had the courage to break this news.
Maybe next time.
As for now. 52% voted for a complete leap backwards into the dark last July, so why shouldn’t a majority vote for a leap forwards by electing Corbyn?
Weirder things keep happening. Why not another?
The opinion polls are predicting a tory victory. In the past, when the polls have wrongly underestimated tory turnout, the major factor was often identified as so-called ‘Shy Tories’ – ashamed of declaring their intentions.
No poll that I know of is currently ‘factoring-in’ the possibility of a Labour equivalent, which is surely a mistake given the often feverish public face of Labour presented by rogue media outlets like Canary and Occupy. Which is enough to shame some traditional Labour voters into silence, if not deter them completely.