Monday, May 05, 2008

The company we keep

This is from the on-line Slate magazine, writing to answer the question "What Orwell can teach Obama." It quotes George Orwell 's analysis of why so few working people were socialists, despite the fact that "[E]very thinking person knows that Socialism is a way out [of the world wide depression." A little to close to home, perhaps?:

One key to the movement's lack of popularity, Orwell argues, is its supporters. "As with the Christian religion," he writes, "the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents." Then he wheels out the heavy rhetorical artillery. The typical socialist, according to Orwell, "is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism, or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaler, and often with vegetarian leanings … with a social position he has no intention of forfeiting. . . . 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."