ORWELL’S LIST: Timothy Garton Ash writes about George Orwell’s 1949 list of 38 writers and journalists, whom Orwell had concluded “are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists.” Ash writes:
In February 1949, George Orwell was lying in a sanatorium in the Cotswolds, very ill with the TB that would kill him within a year. That winter, he had worn himself out in a last effort to retype the whole manuscript of 1984, his bleak warning of what might happen if Britain succumbed to totalitarianism. He was lonely, despairing of his own wasted health, at the age of just forty-five, and deeply pessimistic about the advance of Russian communism, whose cruelty and treacherousness he had personally experienced, nearly at the cost of his own life in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. The communists had just taken over Czechoslovakia, in the Prague coup of February 1948, and they were now blockading West Berlin, trying to strangle the city into submission.
He thought there was a war on, a “cold war,” and he feared that the Western nations were losing it. One reason we were losing, he thought, was that public opinion had been blinded to the true nature of Soviet communism. In part, this blinding was the product of understandable gratitude for the Soviet Union’s immense role in defeating Nazism. However, it was also the work of a poisonous array of naive and sentimental admirers of the Soviet system, declared Communist Party (CP) members, covert (“crypto-“) communists, and paid Soviet spies. It was these people, he suspected, who had made it so difficult for him to get his anti-Soviet fable Animal Farm published in the last year of the last war.
More’s the pity that having decided to fight (in their own way, as journalists) against the Soviet Union, both Orwell and Whittaker Chambers each died fearing they were on the losing side of the battle.
(Link via Reason’s “Hit & Run” Blog.)