Friday, November 24, 2023

Orwellian History

From Charles P. Pierce:

Here is something I did not know. I’ve read all the literary highlights by George Orwell, but I did not know that, in 1940, he reviewed the latest edition/translation of Mein Kampf for the New English Weekly. Needless to say, it is brilliant and scathing, not merely concerning Hitler, but all the forces who enabled him to rise to power, thinking his movement could be controlled. It is also prescient — not merely for 1940, but for 2020 as well. (Orwell predicts that, their temporary alliance notwithstanding, Hitler would get around to attacking Russia.) Here are some passages from the review. See if there are modern…er…applications.

The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is here. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.

Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation ‘Greatest happiness of the greatest number’ is a good slogan, but at this moment ‘Better an end with horror than a horror without end’ is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”

I plan on printing this out and putting it on the old refrigerator in preparation for the 2024 election.

Share this with your MAGA friends, and remind them that while history may not repeat itself, it does rhyme.

2 barks and woofs on “Orwellian History

  1. Mein Kampf (the short version) was nearly unreadable but Hitler’s views were clear enough. If only the internet could require that no one could type the word Hitler without first reading William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” and Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.”

  2. I read William L. Shirer’s book fifty years ago — and sent him a fan letter to which he graciously replied with thanks — and “The Guns of August” shortly thereafter. Both of them scared the crap out of me and put me on alert to keep an eye out for anything that resembled You-Know-Who’s rise to power. I remember there was an abridged version of Shirer’s book, “The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler,” aimed at a younger audience. Imagine trying to get that one past DeSantis.

    Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” — the books, not the TV series — were just as enlightening. I sent him a fan letter, too, and he replied just as graciously.

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