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For the Sake of Orwell

February 4, 2013


by PJK

FTSA readers, being devotees to one degree or another of the writing of Mr. Eric Blair, will appreciate the fact that the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4 is broadcasting the series The Real George Orwell.

This might be pay-back on the part of the BBC- Blair had used the BBC as the model for some of his less flattering depictions of mindless bureaucracy.

Orwell at the BBC

These are dramatic rendering of the works, rather than “books on tape” style reading. Some will find this approach valid and entertaining; others will find approach a bit trite. Overall, Radio 4 has done a good job of making the works accessible to a listening audience.

FTSA readers will appreciate the dramatization of experience of the Spanish Civil War. The idea of fielding an “international brigade” was discussed in an earlier column by Andrew Parker. The thread that followed generally favored the idea of an “international brigade” that would participate in the struggle in Syria, which is still ongoing a year after the essay was published.

What can we learn from Homage to Catalonia? Can the fight against fascism in the 1930s teach us anything about the fight against oppressive regimes today, and the struggle to overthrow them? Are groups like Al Qaeda analogous to fascism? Or it the regime being overthrown the fascist? The Baathists, after all, looked to Nazi Germany as an ally, and modeled some their ideology on fascism. The “islamists” seek to create an “Islamic” world based on some putative golden age of Islam: such appeals to some mythical golden age is a hallmark of reactionary thinking of fascism generally, be it Spanish, Italian, German; Silver Shirt, Brown Shirt, or Black Shirt.

The experience of the Spanish international brigades offers a cautionary tale to those who would engage in military adventurism in their name.

Homage to Catalonia

In addition, the BBC is offering these works as dramatizations:

Animal Farm

Down and Out in London and Paris


There is additional material as well, some about Orwell, some about the times he lived in.

More on Orwell

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