Why Orwell Matters

In speaking of Christopher Hitchens, the current situation reminds me of a quotation from Orwell he brings up in his excellent book Why Orwell Matters. This quotation comes from Orwell’s 1945 work Notes on Nationalism and is eerily prescient:

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States.

Indeed, these words are perhaps more true now than they were 60 years ago, although sadly it seems that these foolish “intellectual pacifists” are no longer the minority. It appears as though the idea that George W. Bush is no better than Saddam Hussein, that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were no different that the beheading of non-combatant prisoners, and that democracy is no better than tyranny.

Such an attitude is simply beyond disgusting.

10 thoughts on “Why Orwell Matters

  1. For pacifists, democracy is no better than tyranny? Using the same simplyfying method, I can answer you that: G.W.Bush is not a democratic politician. He may not be as terrible as Saddam, but he is only in charge since 3.5 years, and already killed thousands while depriving his own citizens of basic human rights.

    BTW, I am not linked with any religious movement, I don’t think that some values doesn’t deserve to die for, and I happen to be a westerner with no consideration for totalitarism.

    Just in case some people didn’t know it, and wonder how someone could actually accuse Bush of being anti-democratic, please remenber that G.W.Bush’s grandfather was Hitler’s personal banker.

  2. Using the same simplyfying method, I can answer you that: G.W.Bush is not a democratic politician. He may not be as terrible as Saddam, but he is only in charge since 3.5 years, and already killed thousands while depriving his own citizens of basic human rights.

    Which proves my point. The argument that Bush is just as bad as Saddam, or would be as bad as Saddam is absolute horseshit. It’s an irresponsible, childish, stupid, and asinine argument. Anyone who says such a thing with a straight face and honestly believes it has admitted that they have absolutely no common sense.

    Amnesty International estimated 36,000 Iraqi deaths per year due to the Hussein regime – and this number is probably several times too low.

    The highest casualty count for the war and subsequent violence is around 12,000, which is a high estimate taking the words of propagandists like those at al-Jazeera at their word.

    That’s a minimum of 24,000 Iraqi lives saved – lives that would have been snuffed out in exchange for French and Russian oil contracts had the Chamberlains at the UN gotten their way.

  3. No, Bush is not as bad as Saddam Hussein… but he’s not lilly white either. We can do better. We are America, after all…

  4. It’s interesting how most of the anti-Bush antiwar crowd didn’t go around protesting Saddam and his atrocities before the war…they didn’t give a rip.

    Orwell nailed it: so many pacifists are just anti-American, anti-Western values.

    The pacifists will have more credibility when they spend at least as much time protesting the real dictators of the world and their substantial human rights abuses. Where are the protests against Iran? Where are the protests against North Korea?

  5. Nicholas writes “We can do better [than Bush]. We are America, after all…”

    Ah..bring out the vague fuzzy platitudes. Well, yes, in theory we can always do better…

    But of the current presidential candidates who is better than Bush? Certainly not the weak and vacillating Kerry, the man who embodies the spirit of 60’s style anti-Americanism? Certianly not cut and run Kerry…

    Bush understands what his opposition do not: we are in a war every bit as significant as WWII…it really is a war of freedom vs a type of tyranny and fascism…Bush understands that freedom must spread in order to prevail, just like Reagan did during the Cold War…Bush also understands that we need to take the fight to the enemy, instead of just wait for them to strike us again…

    In his leadership on the War on Terror, Bush has been brilliant and courageous…

  6. Certainly not the weak and vacillating Kerry

    Is that your new Bush re-election campaign? Make statements so patently ironic that your opposition just explodes?

    Seriously. There’s absolutely no way that a supporter of Bush can call Kerry “vacillating.”

  7. Just because I had here ya go:

    vac·il·late Audio pronunciation of “vacillating” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (vs-lt)
    intr.v. vac·il·lat·ed, vac·il·lat·ing, vac·il·lates

    1. To sway from one side to the other; oscillate.
    2. To swing indecisively from one course of action or opinion to another. See Synonyms at hesitate.

    reference: dictionary.com

  8. We are in a war every bit as significant as WW II my ass… show me how many divisions Osama bin Laden has that are capable of successfully invading and holding a first world, developed country, and I’ll believe you.

    Oh yeah… he doesn’t have an army. He has some bands of desperate underequipped guerillas and terrorists that occasionally manage to make a big show of relatively minor losses of life. Yet our current strategy is to fight this war by conventional means… like the French, we’re always busy preparing for the last war, and not ready for the one at hand.

    We’ll win this war through diplomacy, security, and foreign intelligence. Unfortunately Bush doesn’t understand this. Kerry just might be bright enough to grasp it.

  9. Well, considering that bin Laden managed to launch the biggest attack on the US homeland since the War of 1812 for around $500,000 I’d say he doesn’t need divisions of troops and heavy weaponry.

    The problem with using diplomacy and law enforcement to fight terrorism is that neither is worth shit in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq. Terrorism is not a law enforcement exercise, it’s an act of war committed by actors who use failed states like Afghanistan or Iraq as incubators. Don’t get me wrong, diplomacy, intelligence, and foreign affairs have their place, but they’re no substitute for blowing the hell out of these terrorists.

    That’s why the Bush Doctrine is the right policy – terrorists need failed states to provide them with training, resources, and a base of operations. Places like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria give terrorists breathing room – which is why we can’t simply assume that we can “just go after al-Qaeda.” We have to take down the systems that support terrorism.

    The roots of Islamofascist terrorism are found in the failure of the Arab world to adapt to modernity and the general oppression of the region. The *only* way to deal with this longterm is to change those conditions. Bush understands this, even if his implementation leaves much to be desired. Kerry clearly does not, which is why Kerry does not have the requisite understanding to win this war.

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