George Orwell

(Eric Arthur Blair)

George Orwell
George Orwell
  • Born: June 25, 1903
  • Died: January 21, 1950
  • Nationality: British
  • Profession: Author









Quote Topics Cited
… politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Antisemitism comes more naturally to people of Conservative tendency, who suspect Jews of weakening national morale and diluting the national culture. Neo-Tories and political Catholics are always liable to succumb to antisemitism, at least intermittently. Discrimination & Prejudice
As soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And ... the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified — still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Nationalism & Treason
At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals. Freedom & Liberty
By "nationalism" I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism & Treason
English intelligentsia…can swallow totalitarianism because they have no experience of anything except liberalism…So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot. Liberals & Conservatives
How long can we keep kidding these people? How long before they turn their guns in the other direction? Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Freedom & Liberty
In 1927 Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. The re-alignment of world politics had brought him into the anti-Fascist camp, and so it was felt that the boiling of the Communists ‘didn't count’, or perhaps had not happened. The primary aim of propaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past.
Indifference to Reality. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Nationalism & Treason
Inside the intelligentsia, the pressure of public opinion is overwhelming. Nationalistic loyalty towards the proletariat, and most vicious theoretical hatred of the bourgeoisie, can and often do co-exist with ordinary snobbishness in everyday life. Human Nature ;Public Opinion & Polling ;Loyalty & Loyalty Oaths
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. Humor ;Human Nature ;Animals
Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. Power ;Nationalism & Treason
Patriotism is devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. War & Peace ;Defense & National Security ;Military & Veterans
Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Media, Journalism & The Press
Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Religion & God ;Nationalism & Treason
The less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. War & Peace
The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Nationalism & Treason
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
The question is very simple. Shall the common man be pushed back in the mud, or shall he not? That was the real issue of the Spanish war. War & Peace
The remarkable failure in our time of political and military prediction. It is curious to reflect that out of al the ‘experts’ of all the schools, there was not a single one who was able to foresee so likely an event as the Russo-German Pact of 1939 Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations ;Media, Journalism & The Press
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Freedom & Liberty ;Propaganda & Disinformation ;War & Peace ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
A dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
A family with the wrong members in control; that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase. Families, Children & Parenting
A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.
Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Equality & Equal Opportunity
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. Future
All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents. Religion & God
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Big Brother is watching you.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Dickens is one of those authors who are well worth stealing.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. Power
Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper. Life
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. War & Peace
For a creative writer possession of the 'truth' is less important than emotional sincerity. Truth
Four legs good, two legs bad.
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. Freedom & Liberty
Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Freedom & Liberty
Good writing is like a windowpane.
Happiness can exist only in acceptance. Happiness & Unhappiness
He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him. Religion & God
I sometimes think that the price of liberty is not so much eternal vigilance as eternal dirt.
If you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics - a creed from which you yourself cannot expect to draw any material advantage - surely that proves that you are in the right? Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever. Future
I'm fat, but I'm thin inside... there's a thin man inside every fat man.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act. Truth ;Time
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Time
It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.
Joyce is a poet and also an elephantine pedant.
Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.
Liberal: a power worshipper without power. Power
Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell.
Many people genuinely do not want to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.
Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise. Life
Myths which are believed in tend to become true.
No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer. Equality & Equal Opportunity
No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy. Truth
Not to expose your true feelings to an adult seems to be instinctive from the age of seven or eight onwards.
Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. War & Peace
One can love a child, perhaps, more deeply than one can love another adult, but it is rash to assume that the child feels any love in return. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up.
One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.
Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child's eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below.
Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism. Citizenship & Patriotism
Political chaos is connected with the decay of language... one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.
Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. Power
Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.
Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.
Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever.
Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.
Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting. Sports & Athletics ;War & Peace
Serious sport is war minus the shooting. Sports & Athletics ;War & Peace
So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot.
Society has always to demand a little more from human beings than it will get in practice. Society
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being, but to remind him that he is already degraded.
The atmosphere of orthodoxy is always damaging to prose, and above all it is completely ruinous to the novel, the most anarchical of all forms of literature.
The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun.
The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.
The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War & Peace
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.
The intellectual is different from the ordinary man, but only in certain sections of his personality, and even then not all the time. Time
There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
There is hardly such a thing as a war in which it makes no difference who wins. Nearly always one side stands more of less for progress, the other side more or less for reaction. War & Peace
Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.
To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
To survive it is often necessary to fight and to fight you have to dirty yourself.
To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization. War & Peace
War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. War & Peace
War is a way of shattering to pieces... materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable and... too intelligent. War & Peace
War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil. War & Peace
War is war. The only good human being is a dead one. War & Peace
We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine-gun. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
We of the sinking middle class may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose.
We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion. Humor
When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. Future