Tuesday, January 27, 2009

False analogies

David Renton, in an awful review of a book I do not want to read, refers to

…the Republican Falange around George Bush

I suppose Italy and Spain make a change from the Nazis. His target is a group of writers, Hitchens, Cohen and Amis, who had the temerity to suggest that bringing down a murderous dictatorship may not exactly be in contradiction with left-wing principles. After some injudicious misquoting he continues:

Hitchens it seems is incapable of making a public speech without running through a roll-call of his heroes – Orwell, Victor Serge, C L R James – writers, it must be said, who had the chance in their own lives and disdained the journey he has taken.

Orwell? Does he know anything of Orwell? Is he talking about the Orwell who was the relentless critic of leftist conventional wisdom whenever it conflicted with his principles, who savaged middle class lifestyle socialists in the second half of The Road to Wigan Pier, the opponent of the then fashionable pacifism who went to Spain in his own words to “kill fascists”, the Orwell whose anti-Stalinism was forged by the betrayal of the Spanish revolution and the murder of his friends, who couldn’t find a publisher for Animal Farm because Stalin was then an ally whom no one dared criticise, the Orwell who caused a posthumous ripple of horror amongst Guardianistas when it was revealed that he had collaborated with the British Government (a Labour Government that he supported) by naming possible Stalinist sympathisers at a time when a new round of purges was taking place in Russia? That Orwell? He could have been a Hitchens et al role model.

And if you want to read some sanity on Iraq go to Harry Barnes’ site and follow the links to Anne Clwyd’s speech in Hansard. Barnes opposed the war, Clwyd supported it. They are now comrades in Labour Friends of Iraq supporting, guess what, democratic socialist principles; those very principles that the anti-war lobby were so eager to toss to the wolves of the insurgency.

Orwell certainly left a legacy, I think Hitchens has the better claim to it.

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