[George] Orwell has inspired additions to the English language, through many now commonly used phrases, and entirely new words. Many of those come after his keen ability to identify how power provided to institutions can be used in a negative way. Were he alive today, it is likely he’d feel quite vindicated, if distressed, by his accuracy.
But the writer was not a lofty pacifist who abjured all kinds of power. Indeed, he believed power ought to be used in the world in support of what was good. He was, one might say, a part of the British left – but while substantial parts of the British left today rail against the use of power to repel evil, Orwell took up arms.
His political views were neither complicated nor complex – but they were consistent. Orwell was on the British left, but he rejected Stalinism and described Russian totalitarianism as a “poisonous influence” in Britain. How many times in the last four years have political ideologies become tribes of common cause, rather than based on political principles? How many faux leftists, for example, have seen fit to promote Syria’s Mr Al Assad as somehow the “lesser evil”, or worse still, a companion of the “anti-imperialist vanguard”? Indeed, such leftists have betrayed even the leftists of Syria themselves.