Sometimes I look at a Socialist—the intellectual, tract-writing type of Socialist, with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxist quotation - and wonder what the devil his motive really is. It is often difficult to believe that it is a love of anybody, especially of the working class…
…And all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of "progress" like blue-bottles to a dead cat.
Keep in mind; this was Orwell's argument for socialism! At this point, his strong anti-communist stance was not as clear, that was to come later in his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, but what is clear is his perception and what he thought the majority of his fellow countrymen's perceptions of socialism were. Although he remained a socialist until the day he died, he hated, in that very English way, cant and orthodoxy excusing totalitarianism whether it came from the right or the left.
Timothy Garton Ash in his essay "Orwell in 1998" sums up for me why Orwell became the predominant figure in my development:
In his best articles and letters, he gives us a gritty, personal example of how to engage as a writer in politics. He takes sides, but remains his own man. He will not put himself at the service of political parties exercising or pursuing power, since that means using half-truths, in a democracy, or whole lies in a dictatorship. He gets things wrong, but then corrects them. Sometimes he joins with others in volunteer brigades or boring committee work, to defend freedom. But if need be, he stands alone, against all the "smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls."
©2005 Barney F. McClelland