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Auteur: Orwell, Sonia and Ian Angus (eds.)
Titel: Orwell, In front of your nose
Sub titel: 1945 - 1950, Volume 4

This fourth and final volume of collected essays, articles and letters of Orwell covers the years from the onset of the Cold War till Orwell's premature death in 1950. It is most revealing for the insights it yields into the political thinking of a democratic socialist and a patriot who despised the anti-anti-Communism then fashionable on the Left. His campaign to expose and isolate fellow-travellers and Communist sympathisers was as necessary as it was principled, and is well-expressed in this volume. The most priceless item here is a little-known article, written in 1947, entitled, with heavy irony, 'In Defence of Comrade Zilliacus'. After the War, there was a strong body of opinion within the Labour Party that was pro-Soviet, and a much wider Left-wing constituency for anti-Americanism. In this article Orwell takes on the most shameless of this bunch, in an elegant hatchet job. (Konni Zilliacus was at that time a Labour Member of Parliament who was a Communist sympathiser. To the Labour Party's credit, he was expelled from membership for his pro-Soviet beliefs.) Orwell disdained the pro-Soviet tendency but he was more worried by the anti-anti-Communists. His point was that at least Zilliacus was openly pro-Soviet, whereas the nominally democratic Left (Michael Foot and the Tribune newspaper) affected to be even-handed but were adopting an intellectually dishonest stance. Orwell wrote, '[T]here is one question that should be answered plainly. It is: 'If you had to choose between Russia and America, which would you choose?' And in spite of all the fashionable chatter of the moment, everyone knows in his heart that we should choose America. The great mass of people in this country would, I believe, make this choice almost instinctively.' For parts of the post-war period - especially the 1980s in Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany - the social democratic Left forgot this truth and adopted anti-nuclear and anti-American policies, with predictably awful electoral consequences. Orwell was a permament reminder of the legacy of democratic thought that they had abandoned. His intellectual honesty, plain speaking and understanding of the totalitarian threat to civilised values are of enduring importance, and are amply displayed in this collection. Essays and journalism and very good footnotes deal with starvation in Europe, prevention of literature, Gandhi, an attempt to form an organization which would deal with issues like expelling people from their homes, people forced back to Soviet Russia, and much more including civil liberities for anarchists.
2000, 555 pag., Euro 23,5
Nonpareil Books, London, ISBN 1567921361


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