marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

My Country Right Or Left

My Country Right Or Left:  The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters, vol. 2 1940-1943 by George Orwell.

More essays than letters, now -- an interesting view into the era.  Ends with about a hundred pages of diary.

Has reviews, here, too, though more general than the last volume, which had a number that concentrated on the Spanish Civil War.  Has rather more general essays on literature and writing.  In one, he decries the practice of degrading writers because they hold the wrong opinions -- though a few essays earlier, he is writing on Yeats, who described a hierarchical society with great wealth in few hands, and instantly describes it as "unjust."  Completely unaware that he is giving himself away.  Unequal certainly, but Yeats would not have praised it if he thought inequality unjust.

The gleeful watching of how he thoroughly abuses those who held his own pre-war opinions swings about to the abuse side here, after the dramatic irony of watching him unfold the opinions.

He also unfolds a view of Socialism that turns on the assumption that a Socialist state automatically wins the loyalty of the populace. Tom Simon observes in "The strawman fallacy in Utopian fiction" that 1984 has only a bit of straw in it, but that lay in its lack of ruling philosophy and the assumption they ran on pure lust for power.  I suspect that weakness stems from this; admitting that the tyranny sprang from trying to force round pegs into square holes -- and blaming the pegs when it failed -- would meant that his own desired square holes were unachievable.

A number are columns sent to America to fill them in on the war and England.  A combination of information on the ground and Orwell's innocent certainty that the war could not be won without socialism.  He points to how Hitler militarized his country on seven years to prove how effective it is.  Also interesting tidbits about life, including such things as that if you went to someone's place for dinner it was normal to stay the night owing to the problems getting back home.
Tags: history reviews: communism, history reviews: world war ii era, lit crit, non-fiction: essays, non-historical non-fiction reviews, primary source review
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