the paradox of politics in the 21st century

...as seen from the year 1948:
as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, human equality had become technically possible. (...) But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable. Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set in round about 1930, practices which had been long abandoned, in some cases for hundreds of years — imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages, and the deportation of whole populations-not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.
-- George Orwell, "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" (in 1984)
Oh, and he pretty much sums up the whole Guantanamo- Abu-Ghraib- 9/11-changed-everything- schtick in there as well.

Here's a collection of George Orwell's essays. All of them should be read and some of them should be memorized.

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Blogger Mikkel said...

I personally like Orwell best for volunteering to defend the Spanish Republic in the civil war where he was shot in the neck by a fascist sniper. We should all volunteer for the Spanish Civil war and be shot in the neck by a fascist sniper. Yes, you too.

March 22, 2007 8:31 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

I'm reading Rorty's account of Orwell right now. It's an excellent reading, and one of Rorty's best moments, I think. Rorty argues that Orwell was decisive in changing how we think about totalitarian societies, and thinks that his depiction of Oceania are some of the strongest arguments in favour of "liberal" political activism.

March 22, 2007 11:08 pm  

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