A Spectre Is Haunting Wigan Pier? A Quickish Note.



At long last I’ve managed to blog something apart from glorified apologies! It was hard work, and I think my mind is a bit rusty. Furthermore, this post is definitely not an attempt  at a final be all and end all on the subject. I’m prepared to be rectified! However, as promised a while back, I am finally getting the blog back together!  So without any more ado…

During 1935 George Orwell lived at 50 Lawford Road, Kentish Town with Rayner Heppenstall and Michael Sayers. (I’m not sure about the building itself, but the street, which Sayers said had ‘an air of decay about it’, still exists). [1] Among many other topics, Orwell and Sayers talked about The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. They both agreed that the Manifesto was:

‘one of the most powerful and beautifully written political documents imaginable…an epic poem in the magnificence of its vocabulary and passion. [2]

At this point Orwell was not a socialist, but rather a Tory Anarchist  and Tory anti-Imperialist. It was only after his trip to northern England in 1936 (immortalised in The Road to Wigan Pier) and his participation in the Spanish Civil War in 1936-7 (the subject of Homage to Catalonia) that he became a self-professed writer for  ‘democratic Socialism’. [3]

Now it is easy to compare the first part of Wigan Pier with the subject matter of Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England– basically how much of the working class in northern England got screwed over by capitalist industrialisation. (These days any similar work would concentrate on how the working class in northern England suffers from de-industrialisation.) However, did Orwell ever read Engels’ work before or after he went in search of Wigan Pier? (I honestly do not know. Any enlightenment out from anyone out there would be appreciated!)

However, did The Communist Manifesto (which stylistically he obviously appreciated) influence Orwell’s writing? I would say there is some evidence of this in Part 2 of Wigan Pier. Subject of Part III of the Manifesto is ‘Socialist and Communist Literature’ in 1840s Europe. In it Marx and Engel attack ‘Reactionary Socialism’, ‘Petit-Bourgeois Socialism’, ‘German, or True, Socialism, ‘Conservative, or Bourgeois Socialism’ and ‘Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism’. [4] In a similar manner Orwell spends much of Part II of Wigan Pier attacking self-professed socialists in 1930s England. [5] Did he get the idea to criticise the socialists of his day from the Manifesto?

Furthermore, there is one part of Wigan Pier which stylistically comes very close to the Manifesto in criticising some socialists. Discussing ‘Conservative, or Bourgeois Socialism’, which ‘wish[es] for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat’ the Manifesto states:

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. [6]

In Wigan Pier Orwell claims ‘Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle class’, with the typical socialist often being ‘a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller [but not a ‘temperance fanatic’?!] and often with vegetarian leanings’. Like the Manifesto’s ‘Conservative Socialist’, this sort of socialist  has a ‘social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.’ If the Manifesto implicitly worries about the sort of people who are attracted to socialism in the 1840s, Orwell is blunt in Wigan Pier about his horror about those attracted to the idea in the 1930s:

…there is the horrible and really disquieting- prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure quack, pacifist and feminist in England. [7]

From the Manifesto, Orwell appears to have taken the idea that there are certain ‘types’ who give the sort of socialism he wants a bad name. I should think Marx and Engels would have appreciated Orwell’s comment in Wigan Pier that ‘As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.’

Finally, Orwell  uses the Manifesto’s ending to inspire his rallying call at the end of Wigan Pier for the English middle classes (those who aren’t fruit-juice drinkers sandal-wearers, nudists, sex-maniacs etc) to be won over to Socialism. While Marx and Engels declare ‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains’, [8] Orwell says ‘we of the sinking middle class…

…may sink without further struggle into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for after all we having nothing to lose but our aitches.’ [9]


1. Gordon Bowker (2004) George Orwell (London: Abacus), p.173.

2. Ibid, p.174.

3. Orwell as Tory Anarchist, Bernard Crick (1992) George Orwell: A Life, p.254. In Politics vs Literature, his 1945 essay on Gulliver’s Travels, Orwell described Jonathan Swift as a Tory Anarchist: ‘despising authority while disbelieving in liberty, and preserving the aristocratic outlook while seeing clearly that the existing aristocracy is degenerate and contemptible’ (George Orwell: Essays, 1994, London: Penguin, p.380). Orwell as Tory anti-Imperialist Crick, op cit, p.174).  Only after his experiences in the Spanish Civil War ‘and other events in 1936-7’ could Orwell say that ‘Every line of serious work I have written since…has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it.’ (‘Why I Write’, Essays, op cit, p.5)

4. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ‘The Communist Manifesto’ in David McLellan (1988) Karl Marx: Selected Writings (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp.221-247. Part III, pp.238-245.

5. George Orwell ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ in Peter Davison, ed., (2001) Orwell’s England, pp.57-216. Part II starts at p.139, with Orwell’s criticisms of Socialists starting around p. 165.

6.  Marx and Engels, op cit, p.242

7.  ‘Wigan Pier’, op cit, p.175.

8. Marx and Engels, op cit, p.246

9.  ‘Wigan Pier’, op cit, p.216.


Radicalism and Conservatism: Thinking Aloud

Posted this originally on November 1st 2008. If you find the ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ tone of many political (and other) quizzes annoying, you may find Kevin Carson’s thoughts on the matter of interest!

‘Radicalism’ and ‘Conservatism’ are words that are used in politics to pretty much describe anything. Not as bad as, say, using ‘Socialism’ or ‘Fascism’ as political swear words, but not far off. However, ‘radicals’ can be described as people who want to change things politically, while ‘conservatives’ want to conserve things. I call myself an ‘English Radical’, but not an ‘English radical’, as ‘English Radicalism’ is recognised as a phrase encompassing a number of ideas and historical figures/movements ie the idea of a post-1066 ‘Norman Yoke’; the Levellers; Tom Paine; the Chartists; William Morris; GDH Cole. An ‘English radical’, on the other hand, is just an English person who happens to be ‘radical’.

However, most people would associate political ‘Radicalism’ with ‘the Left’ (don’t get me started…) and/or Socialism, while Conservatism is associated with ‘the Right’ and/or Capitalism. However, is that the right way to look at politics? I am reminded of a John Le Carre quote I posted up a few months back:

‘The mere fact that communism didn’t work doesn’t mean that capitalism does. In many parts of the globe it’s a wrecking, terrible force, displacing people, ruining lifestyles, traditions, ecologies and stable systems with the same ruthlessness as communism.’ (Times Higher Educational Supplement, 20/6/97, p.11.)

If Conservatism = Capitalism, surely it should not be ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ (to use a good phrase from the English Civil Wars) in the same way Communism promised to? Then I think of the Communist Manifesto: the capitalism and capitalists Charlie and Fred describe are hardly ‘forces of conservatism’ (to use a Blairism- Tony not Lionel):

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.’ (David McLellan, ed., Karl Marx: Selected Writings, Oxford University Press, 1988, p.224.)

From a different perspective then, Capitalism (or the corporate, globalising version) can be considered to be dangerously ‘radical’, not ‘conservative’. At the same time, I think a lot of ‘Left/Socialist’ political activity can be seen as ‘conservative’. That is, it is activity that(usually rightly) tries to conserve jobs, health and social services, educational institutions, the environment etc from rapacious corporations and financial institutions.

So I think it is quite respectable to be both a political ‘radical’ and a political ‘conservative’. Better than being a corporate frontperson, that’s for sure! A lot of the current unease about the crisis in the global financial system stems from the wish of individuals to see their savings/job/home protected and/or conserved from the rapaciousness of institutions that wish to turn all that is solid for individuals into air.

Looking through my files I found notes I made probably about ten years back from a book I got from the local library by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook called The Revolt Against Change: Towards a Conserving Radicalism (1993: Vintage). Here’s what I wrote down:

‘…the reason why parties advocating radical change were so unsuccessful was because they were striking against the resistance of people who had changed. who had been compelled to change, too much.’ (p.3)

‘…the only radical politics left to us should be based upon resistance, recuperation and remembering.’ (p.4)

‘To talk about the people’s refusal to change has a curious resonance at the end of a period of two hundred years which have seen nothing but incessant, remorseless change. If there is one thing which is obvious to anybody it is that the last two centuries have been a period of unprecedented change.’(p.11)

The conservatism of the people has been stolen by a social and economic system which can never deliver to them the security which is at the heart of their conservative impulse.’
…true radicalism does not consist in tearing up society by its roots…, but on the contrary, returns to those roots in order to nourish their survival and sturdy growth.’ (p.56)

…a true conservatism (preserving what is of value) is seen to be in opposition to its false namesake (maintaining industrial society); just as a true radicalism (fundamental change) stands against its counterfeit (endless uprootings by the industrial system).’ (p.64)

‘To be radical now is to resist the ever more invasive intrusions of a world system that can afford to leave nothing alone, but that must open up new pathways to profit deep in the still unexploited fastnesses of the heart, the secret depths of the psyche, even when it goes about its global privatisations…To be radical now is to say we want to be left alone to determine our lives, to say that our needs are more important than the system’s necessities.’

‘The radicals and true conservatives both know that there are things that are beyond price, and that this precious inheritance sustains us all. A conservatism that has thrown in its lot with universal market forces has lost its roots; and a radicalism that accepts the gratuitious tearing up of all that is rooted in human experience could have no idea where it is going.’(pp.95-6).

‘In the existing order, the apparent oppostion of conservatism and radicalism conceals their common subordination. Both tend solely to a conserving of profit; and the means whereby this is attained is through continuous change and upheaval.’ (p.96)

‘It should be a characteristic of the new radicalism that the people should determine their own role and function in bringing about social change and safeguarding human activities.’(p.97)

While typing these extracts out, it did occur to me that while people are often ‘out-radicalised’ politically and culturally (ie ‘I’m more of a socialist/Leninist/Eurosceptic/punk/Muslim than you/thou’)people are rarely ‘out-conserved’. I might try it out at some point:

‘We get our freedoms from Magna Carta.’
‘No, we get them from the Anglo-Saxons, Norman-lover.’

‘It’s traditional to smoke in pubs.’
‘Only in the last four hundred years. By the way, did you know cancer cures smoking?’

‘This is a Christian country.’
‘Tell the Druids that.’

But I digress…

I probably would not have put this post up without this recent one by Chris Dillow:

October 08, 2008: conservatives for revolution

James Delingpole says of Ian Hislop:

I think he’s a bit like Jeremy Paxman — another of those handsomely remunerated, public-school-educated presenters who believes in most of the things a Tory ought to believe in (the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, riding to hounds, warm beer, Brief Encounter, probably).

But I too believe in these things – especially as Britain‘s Most Evil Man doesn‘t.

Indeed, I suspect a reverence for English traditions is more common on the Left than amongst the Conservative Party. Neil Clark’s tastes border on the reactionary; Francis Sedgemore is a Morrisman; you’ll struggle to find a Conservative voter at a meeting of CAMRA or at a Martin Carthy gig. [I did leave a comment to this post to say that CAMRA’s public face, Roger Protz, used to be ‘Socialist Worker’ editor in the early 1970s.] And when Shuggy writes that ‘our culture seems incapable of expressing disapproval of something unless it can be shown that someone’s rights have been violated’ he is expressing a conservative view.

Many leftists, then, have Tory sentiments. And many Conservatives do not; David Cameron’s Desert Island Discs are not those of a conservative.

Which raises the point – that the conservative temperament and the Conservative party are two completely different things – indeed, two opposed things.

One reason for this is that the pursuit of profit – which Conservatives support – destroys the traditions loved by conservatives. As Marx and Engels said:
Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.

Another reason is that the conservative temperament is sceptical of individuals’ new ideas, and of anyone‘s claim to know better. As Oakeshott put it: ‘it is beyond human experience to suppose that those who rule are endowed with a superior wisdom.’ The conservative prefers the tried and trusted to the new; he prefers to back the field than any particular horse.

But bosses reject all this. Their claim to power – in business or in government – is a claim to an especial expertise. And the Conservative party, at least in my lifetime, has been the party of bosses.

The conservative temperament gave us mutual building societies, with their local roots and long traditions. The Conservative party gave us the demutualized societies, which blew up spectacularly.

The conservative disposition, then, to use Oakeshott’s phrase, is opposed to Conservative politics. Bryan is right: socialism is ‘certainly not in conflict with true conservatism.’

I’d go further. One reason why I have revolutionary sympathies is precisely that I have a conservative disposition.

For one thing, in replacing hierarchy with co-ops is one way (the only way?) to assert the wisdom of crowds and the tacit knowledge embodied by professional and craft traditions over the spurious rationalism of managerialist ideology.
And for another, institutions – in the long-run – shape character. And the conservative temperament sees much to bemoan in the modern character: the saccharine displays of public emotion; the supine expectation of ‘leadership’ from those above us; the inability to stand on one’s own two feet and face the responsibility of one’s own actions; the demise of virtue and rise of priggish rule-following; the pursuit of external rather than internal goods ; and the demand that we ‘respect’ others’ sensibilities regardless of their imbecility.

If such widespread failings of character are to be reversed, we might need radical institutional change.

In this sense, revolution and conservatism are compatible.

The reference to public schools at the start reminds me of the description of old Etonian George Orwell as being conservative in everything except politics. I’ve been struck by the similarities in his personal tastes with those of a proper cultural and political conservative, J.R.R. Tolkien. George:

‘Outside my work the thing I care most about is gardening, especially vegetable gardening. I like English cookery and English beer, French red wines, Spanish white wines, Indian tea, strong tobacco, coal fires, candlelight and comfortable chairs. I dislike big towns, noise, motor cars, the radio, tinned food, central heating and ‘modern’ furniture.’ (Gordon Bowker, George Orwell, Abacus, 2004, p.263).


I like gardens, trees and unmechanised farmlands. I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking…I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour…;I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.’ Humphrey Carpenter, ed., The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien , Harper Collins, 1995, pp.288-9.

(BTW For a few years I have somewhere in my mind a plan to write a ‘compare/contrast’ piece on Orwell and Tolkien, but I have a feeling it might never be started. Apart from their major differences on Catholicism and politics, I think they would have got on, especially with their respective interests in the nature of power and language, as well as their love of English nature. Orwell’s first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, read English at Oxford, and one of her teachers was Tolkien (Bowker, op cit, p.167.)

Now this post has ended up at Tolkien, another set of notes I’ve found this evening are on Meredith Veldman’s 1994 book (Cambridge University Press) Fantasy, the Bomb and the Greening of Britain: Romantic Protest, 1945-1980 which I first came aware of via Patrick Wright’s review in the Guardian on St.George’s Day aka Shakespeare’s Birthday/Death called ‘How the Hobbits saved the world’. I eventually got around to reading it (and making notes) a few years later. The inspiration for Veldman’s book was when she was reading both The Lord of the Rings and E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class while working as an academic in Chicago and finding them extremely similar in tone. In her book Veldman traces the roots of romantic revolt in the British Isles against industrialism from the late Eighteenth Century through to the anti-nuclear protests of the post-1945 period. Some of these ‘romantic protests’ have extremely dodgy politics (the Soil Association, worthwhile organisation that it is now, was part-founded by people with pro-Fascist/Nazi ties (Veldman, p.202) but there were also very democratic ones, in both political and economic terms (ie G.D.H. Cole and ‘Guild Socialism’; G.K. Chesterton and ‘Distributism’). I intend to discuss them, and other themes from Veldman’s book, sooner rather than later.

I think I’ve strayed a bit in this post away from discussing radicalism and conservatism. That’s thinking aloud, I guess. I hate writing conclusions, but I would say that I think there is room for democratic ‘radicals’ that don’t hold onto Big Business or Big Government (including those who think quoting Lenin makes Big Government better for ordinary people) and democratic ‘conservatives’ who don’t cheerlead for the Corporations (and aren’t obsessed with Race and/or Religion) to get together, discuss things and work together. Perhaps I haven’t persuaded people so, but I hope that you’ve found this post interesting, one way or another!

What I Need In My Life…

A thumbs up for ‘Limitless’- a good film for anyone who has suffered writer’s block!

‘Being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet.’- Anonymous (Hat-tip: Bridget Minamore!)

That’s my big excuse anyway! Also I’ve got some big posts I want to show off the world here and I have an aversion to fobbing people off with rubbish blogposts.

In addition, sometimes, indeed much of the time since last summer, I have found blogging a burden in many ways. Without going into detail (perhaps the subject of a later post) I often find blogging a chore. Change the word ‘book’ for ‘blog’ and I sometimes totally identify with George Orwell in his essay Why I Write:

‘Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. It is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books & was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives & humbug generally.’

This quote was used a few days ago on Facebook by David Sirota, who has just brought out what looks like a very interesting book:

Mr S has been on the road in the US promoting his book, and commented on FB:

I’m psychologically destroyed from the process of book promotion. It is an awful process when you are A) not a celebrity and B) not willing to write things just to fit into a prefabbed narrative. You learn commercial success has nothing to do with merit & everything to do with your ability to kiss ass. And as a writer, I find it brutally demoralizing.

Sounds to me like a warning to anyone out there wanting to write a book which might be interesting.

Anyhow, I am going to keep plugging away with this blog and see what happens from there. However, although there is a lot of great stuff and similarly great people on the internet, I’ve become increasingly aware over time of the truth in Betrand Russell’s famous quote, which the internet often accentuates:

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of  doubt.

‘Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels came to the checkout at the 7/11…

…Marx was skint- but he had sense/Engels lent him the necessary pence’ (The Clash ‘The Magnificent Seven’)

Two pieces I’ve seen in recent days have just increased by admiration for Karl Marx. As the man himself said ‘I am not a Marxist’, in quite possibly the same way c.30AD Jesus said ‘I am not a Christian’ (for all the subsequent good it did on both occasions!). You don’t have to be a ‘Marxist’, let alone a dogmatic one, to see that Charlie Heindrich was a class act. The fact that he had some  numbskull self-declared followers, who carried through innumerable crimes during the last century or so (often against fellow ‘Marxists’)  doesn’t invalidate his way of looking at the world, any more than the actions of millions of self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ in the last two thousand years invalidates everything Jesus is supposed to have said and stood for.

Exhibit One: Dan Hind in last Friday’s Evening Standard magazine, discussing the revival of radical politics in London. He notes that:

Karl Marx was a notorious toper. He was particularly fond of a pub crawl (or ‘beer trip’) from Oxford Street to the Hampstead Road. And on his jaunts away from The British Library Reading Room he wasn’t averse to childish disorder of the kind we now associate with the pampered sons of rock aristocracy. His friend Wilhelm Liebknecht tells how, when their friend Edgar Bauer threw a stone at a gas lantern, the greatest socialist intellectual of all time and one of the founders of German social democracy both joined in. Together they ended up smashing five street lamps. Liebknecht remarks in his description of the evening that ‘madness is contagious’, something for Dave Gilmour’s son Charlie to bear in mind next time he tries a spot of protesting.

The Museum Tavern opposite the British Museum: a regular Marx watering hole. George Orwell also used to drink in there, so there must be something in the water!

If you can’t face the full rigours of a Marxist beer trip you can, instead, raise a glass to dialectical materialism at The Museum Tavern on Great Russell Street, Marx’s local when he was working on Das Kapital. Coincidentally, urban legend has it that Lenin and Stalin used to drink together at The Crown and Anchor, now The Crown Tavern, on Clerkenwell Green. As far as we know neither of them went in for Marx’s brand of high jinks – maybe a bad sign, in retrospect.

I think I’ve been here. However, all other things being equal, I would rather drink where Marx and Orwell used to go, rather than the establishment Lenin (abstainer)and Stalin (partial to the vodka) frequented!

Exhibit Two: Terry Eagleton’s review in the London Review of Books of Eric Hobsbawm’s How to Change the World.  In it Eagleton notes:

Marx…was an artist of sorts. It is often forgotten how staggeringly well read he was, and what painstaking labour he invested in the literary style of his works. He was eager, he remarked, to get shot of the ‘economic crap’ of Capital and get down to his big book on Balzac. Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity.

Following on from that (apart from observing that Marx was also a ‘piss artist of sorts’ when the occasion demanded it) it seems to me that if there is to be any worthwhile ‘socialism’ or ‘leftism’ for the 21st Century, it needs to inspire people who want to escape ‘the dull compulsion of labour’ we have now and which characterised the societies of ‘Actual Existing Socialism’ until they collapsed through (as much as anything else) terminal boredom. The only socialism that will get anywhere now is one that proclaims:


‘We Need To Talk About Winston’ By Quentin O’Brien

‘What you have to understand Winston’, I told him once, ‘is that I am a people person.’

Everyone thinks being a member of the Inner Party is all about wine, women and song, but with the abolition of the orgasm (which I said to Winston one time was inevitable- but I’m jumping ahead of the tale here!), wine only really being available if we kick-ass with Eurasia (or is it Eastasia? Just joshing!) and music not being my bag, I just feel like a jumped-up bureaucrat most of the time. Anyway, back to the plot, as they say in the Fiction Department…!

Hard worker, straight talker, keep myself to myself. What’s not to like?

I joined the Party in 1956 (or was it 1957? Numbers are, in the final analysis, a past-time for statisticians. Anyone who says otherwise is a Thought Criminal in the pay of Goldstein) as Mother (a great woman, until I found she was in league with Goldstein and denounced her to the Thought Police. I have no time for wishy-washy sentiment that gets in the way of the Great Future For Us All) said to me once: ‘Quentin, if you want to get anywhere in life these days, join The Party.’ So I did, and I found it very rewarding, meeting lots of truly great people, whose names I have totally forgotten (put people in the blue uniforms of The Party and very quickly 99.9999% of them become much of a muchness to me!). After a few years in the Ministry of Truth getting rid of all totally worthless publications down the Memory Hole (does anyone seriously regret the total destruction of all copies of the 1948 Arthur Askey Annual? Don’t insult my intelligence, as I used to say to Winston when he gave me stupid answers in the Ministry of Love and I was forced to up the voltage!) I got a job in the London office of  the Thought-Crime Investigation Inspectorate, which is where the name of ‘Winston Smith’ first came to my attention.

I was given this artwork at a drinks reception celebrating my ten years at the Thought-Crime Investigation Inspectorate. It now hangs in the office toilet cubicle!

There are always people who join the Party with some rum ideas.  Our (that is, the ideas of Ingsoc as articulated by the thoughts of Big Brother) first reaction is that they will grow out of such daft thoughts.  If not, then regretfully we have to take it a lot more seriously. Condemn the sin, not the sinner, to use a line I remember from one of the many religious books I slung down the Memory Hole on one very productive night I had way back in early 1960s! Whenever I have to deal with a Thought Criminal, I always take the attitude that it is the thoughts, not the criminal, that is the problem.

Winston, with Big Brother trying to watch out for him. If WS had listened to old BB, he wouldn’t be the broken gin-addicted wretch of a man facing the firing squad any day now!

So it was with Winston. However, he alarmed me and the other Comrades in the TCII back in the early 1970s, when we started to notice that he was becoming more and more odd…[to be continued]

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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