By Robert Folsom | August 23, 2012
I came across this story yesterday in The London Evening Standard:
“Outgoing BBC director-general Mark Thompson vetoed a statue of George Orwell at the Corporation’s new HQ as the writer was ‘too Left-wing’…”
Please know that I try not to be emotionally engaged in the topics I write about. Still, in this case, I will let you know what came to mind as I read that story. It went something like this:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
Anyone who has read Orwell understands that while he was a man of the left, in truth he cared far more about honesty and independent thought — regardless of whom he offended.
Consider this small grenade from an August 1944 essay, and bear in mind that this was long before it had become common to lump Stalin & Hitler together as dictators. Doing so was beyond politically incorrect in 1944; “Uncle Joe” Stalin was the ally of Churchill and Roosevelt.
Fascism is often loosely equated with sadism, but nearly always by people who see nothing wrong in the most slavish worship of Stalin. The truth is, of course, that the countless English intellectuals who kiss the arse of Stalin are not different from the minority who give their allegiance to Hitler or Mussolini… All of them are worshipping power and successful cruelty.
That Orwell can still provoke controversy all these years later speaks to how relevant his voice remains. Even so, I remain obliged to point out that this controversy is about…
…A statue, dear reader. A wordless tribute to a man whose words have been embraced by political thinkers of nearly every stripe (left, right, and libertarian) for more than sixty years.
Why would the boss-man at the BBC object? I won’t question the man’s integrity, but his stated reason simply isn’t credible, for the reasons I explained above. What I find far more credible is the influence of social mood.
Learn more by reading “The Wave Principle Delineates Phases of Social Caution and Ebullience,” in the August 2009 issue of The Socionomist. Subscribe today, and you’ll have complete access to the wealth of past issues.
Andrea Dibben contributed research.