Oceania, Then and Now

Near the end of her beautifully-written encomium to George Orwell in the Weekly Standard, Elizabeth Powers makes this observation regarding the differences between what she describes as “the American and the English laboring classes:”


Alongside evidence of Orwell’s deep love of gardening and of his young son are many insights about contemporary political and literary figures. In particular, Orwell’s working-class correspondents bring to mind the historical strength of labor unionism in England. I recall in the 1950s, as a child of about 8, that something of this got through to me, in connection with reports of brutal labor strikes in the coal mines. My father was led to explain to me the difference between the American and the English laboring classes: If an American worker saw you driving a Cadillac, he worked to earn enough to buy one for himself; the English worker, on the other hand, sought to deprive you of yours.

Does that comparison still hold up today? It certainly doesn’t amongst America’s socialist elites and wannabe socialist elites, as Occupy Wall Street demonstrated time and again in 2011.

But then, English socialist elites were working hard to deprive England of its wealth long before 1950.


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