Thursday, June 26, 2008

Readings: Taking No Prisoners

from Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier:

One of the analogies between Communism and Roman Catholicism is that only the “educated” are completely orthodox. The immediately striking thing about the English Roman Catholics…is their intense self-consciousness. Apparently they never think, certainly they never write, about anything but the fact that they are Roman Catholics; this single fact and the self-praise resulting from it form the entire stock-in-trade of the Catholic literary man. …

A working-class Catholic…does not spend his time in brooding on the fact that he is a Roman Catholic, and he is not particularly conscious of being different from his non-Catholic neighbors. …In the Roman Catholic homes of Lancashire you see the crucifix on the wall and the Daily Worker on the table. It is only the “educated” man, especially the literary man, who knows how to be a bigot. And, mutatis mutandis, it is the same with Communism. The creed is never found in its pure form in a genuine proletarian.

It may be said, however, that even if the theoretical book-trained Socialist is not a working man himself, at least he is actuated by a love of the working class. He is endeavoring to shed his bourgeois status and fight on the side of the proletariat – that, obviously, must be his motive.

But is it? Sometimes I look at a [middle-class] Socialist – the intellectual, tract-writing type of Socialist, with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation – and wonder what the devil his motive really is. …The underlying motive of many Socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order. The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy…

Nobody spared!