Thursday, July 19, 2007

Orwell on the motivations of pacifists

"The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the 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 …"

(from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism).

Das Stimmt, Mr. Orwell. The Pacifist may overtly claim to be opposing war in general, but he's all-too-often assisting the other side by his kvetching and resistance, or possibly (as Orwell suggests) he wishes to implement--re-implement, as it were--the great Marxist state (and of course obtain for himself a Par-tay membership). In regards to the current police action against the Islamofascists, most of the granola-muncher leftists realize that anything which lessens the power of the US military (like supporting Hillari or Obomba) increases the likelihood of the success of the pacifist's real statist agenda (and rest assured that there are few if no Islamic pacifists). That said, it's a fairly safe bet that Orwell, while objecting to the current variety of statist Emo-crats, would have felt little love for the theocratic and corporate-oriented US conservatives (which is to say, Orwell would not mince words with some bag of shit like Larry Ellison).

Mr. Orwell, similar to Nietzsche in some regards, was one of those UnAffiliated semi-geniuses whose ideas don't fit neatly into current political categories; those sentimental DNC-o-crats who enjoy trading on his name, or plagiarizing his ideas, generally don't know Winston Smith from Smith & Wesson, or Catalonia from Catatonia: “Ignorance is Strength!”(given his experience in the Spanish civil war, Orwell was well aware of rats, whether links oder recht). Thankfully, Orwell (or shall we say Eric Blair) recognized his literary betters as well, such as Jonathan Swift: " It is “your Natives” (i.e. Gulliver’s fellow-countrymen) whom the King of Brobdingnag considers to be “the most pernicious Race of little odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth”, and the long passage at the end, denouncing colonization and foreign conquest, is plainly aimed at England, although the contrary is elaborately stated." Orwell--not to say Dean Swift-- would, most likely, sadly shake his head were he alive and watching the muslimification of England, or shall we say, the Yahoo-ification of political life. Of course most yankee yahoos have, unlike Mr. Blair, rarely bothered even with the savageries of SwiftSpeak, tho' some may have caught the tamed-down, "user-friendly" NBC version a few seasons ago. Orwell/Gulliver'sTravels

There are, to be sure, various Orwellian factions: Christopher Hitchens,who published a book on Orwell's writings, claims to be an ideological descendant of Orwell and Trotsky (and we here at Contingencies believe that he is, mostly--tho' HitchensSpeak generally a bit more posh than the somewhat wooden--but effective-- prose of G.O.)--on the other hand, mystery man Thomas Pynchon, who recently penned a pretty dread introduction to 1984, also reveals some Orwellian aspects on occasion (see Vineland for starters, an entertaining if mad, labyrinthine, and gloomy tale (TP hisself might have done well to attend Conrad 101); Contingencies grants that Pynchonology may situate itself nearer to Trotskyism than Hitchens' writings doth-- or Orwell's, for that matter--read the phreak and find out, fan-boy). Those who have perused a few of Hitchens' diatribes soon realize, however, that his real master is not Leonovitch T., or even Eric Blair (sort of the stoner's Conrad), but none other than David Hume.


Anonymous said...

It appears that someone from "New Worlds" (Brave New Worlds, perhaps) has linked to your post on Orwell and pacifism, Mr. Contingencies. Someone also appears to have missed the point.
Orwell does not suggest that pacifism is always mistaken, but that in some cases, say WWII--and the essay on nationalism was written either during or right after that donnybrook---it could be a great error, and often a help to the “enemy” (intentionally or not). Those Brits who lived through the Battle of Britain, the bombings, V2s, etc. had none of the sort of naive compassion common to today’s “left”: when the Stukas came streaking across the sky, most rational British humans were not exactly thinking "forgive thine enemy".

(That said, there are reasons to oppose Bush’s handling of Iraq, but it’s not a “GOP war”—the majority of dems signed off on it as well, a fact which most of the peaceniks routinely forget. Supporting the war effort to some degree, and the battle against muslim fanatics–does not imply approving Bush or the GOP across the board. Most of the Kossack sort of hysterics simply can't realize those sorts of subtleties--it's either your on the bus (with perhaps Karl Marx the BusDriver), or not.)

Another amusing thing about the New Worlder's rant– and typical— was that his blog was not mentioned or linked to in the Orwell essay, and no references were made to anyone on New Worlds. So he presumes you were referring to him, but that’s not really evident. Additionally, with the rather Orwellian (in bad sense–i.e. Big Brother, from “1984,” right? sort of good Orwell text to start with) moderation/information control policies in effect, even if someone wanted to respond to his narcissism du jour, he can't (note how the New Worlder's post did not concern pacifism as it relates to war, but about whether someone's coming to take away his "sacred prop-ur-tay raghts").

J said...

Yes, I noted the "sparked his interest" bullcrap, typical of the NW frauds. This essay was actually written about 4-5 months ago, and had nothing to do with his post. Some of us read and understood "Shooting an Elephant", "1984," "Animal Farm," and other Orwell chestnuts say in high school. I do think Orwell's a fairly important writer, but not the political visionary that some moralist-liberals make him out to be. In fact Mr. Blair seems to function as a sort of romantic hero for the naive leftist, not so different than like Hemingway did a few decades ago. It might be remembered that Blair was an MP in Burma as well, and in many ways his writing seems like cop writing--sort of a British Joe Friday (Dash Hammett spun circles around about any Brit realist you care to name really, in terms of pulp).

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