Anniversary of Orwell’s death…. we miss you George, more than ever

January 21, 2009 |

Today is the 59th anniversary of George Orwell’s (Erice Blair) death. He has always been my hero. That said he was hardly the pure sanctified oracle which is current view of him. It took a scarifing experience in the Spanish Civil War for him to develop his famous skeptisism of totalitarianism, humbuggery and intellectual sloth. Like Abraham Lincoln he has been turned into something a secular saint. That is a pity. Lincoln’s political path to the presidency was rocky and fitful. As a political operator he could as tough as any other politician. He suspended the right of habeus corpus, ordered the largest mass execution in American history, when the army executed 36 Dakota Sioux indians . To be farir, the army wanted to hang over 300. He was honest but could be ruthless.  He had a fractious relationship with the media of the day (as did his counterpart in the Confederacy – Jefferson Davis). What he wasn’t was the treackly mass of humorous anectdotes and perfection that Carl Sandburg and any number of  tub thumpers have created in aid or this or that cause.  He was as alive to the political pressures of the day as leaders are today. The strength of Orwell and Lincoln is their brilliance cutting through their flawed humanity .

How Orwell’s brilliant insights are sorely missed today. The humbuggery that abounds over political correctness, the moral relativism that the commentariat embrace and the pseudo science (with travelling inquisition to pass sentence over doubters) scream out for his biting analysis and satire. We have to settle for Christopher Hitchens. A poorer substitute but one who at least will have a tilt at much of the banruptcy of the commentariat. His latest piece in Vanity Fair is an excellent piece Assassins of the Mind. Orwell would have had a field day pricking the overblown rhetoric accompanying President’s win and innaugaration. Obama is an effective politician, a disciplined operator and a terrific orator. He is not a modern day mix of Abe Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt with a varnish of J F Kennedy. Or a Martin Luther King Jnr. All of them, bar Kennedy had a solid political history of achievement before they reached greatness. Obama doesn’t even come close, irrespective of the testimonials of his students and colleagues. Cutting through the puffery Obama is a policy neophyte with the pedigree of a machine politician and an unspectacular record in the Illinois and US Senate. None of that is bar to greatness. Truman was a hack put up by the Prendergast machine but became one of the great presidents of the twentieth century. But the fawning, flattery and obseqious coverage by all, including the press corps is reaching diabetic coma levels. It is one thing for celebs to don their gucci loafers and wax lyrical for the great liberal hope but it is another for papers of record to just soak up everything on offer as yet another moment of greatness. Exhibit A being the innaugaration speech. It was good but not great. It was typical of the cadenced style that Obama favours but was so weighed down by florid imagery as to be almost a self parody. Most coverage seems to regard it as Obama channeling Martin Luther King and JFK.

Perhaps someone in Australia will lacerate the Thais legal system and the prosecution of Harry Nicolaides for insulting Thais Royalty. As with most of the heavy handed repressive laws in South East Asia critisism in Australia is muted by the media and non existent by the Government of the day. None of this full throated defence of humanist values let alone fighting for the liberty of an unjustly imprisoned Australian. White man’s guilt writ large.

 

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