Orwell, Cockburn, Spain

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at attbi.com
Tue Nov 26 06:15:22 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "John M Cox" <coxj at email.unc.edu>

> Check out chapter 11 of "Homage to Catalonia" in order to get a better
> understanding of Alexander Cockburn's animosity to Orwell.  [etc.]

But the question is not about what Orwell wrote in 1938, it is about what
Orwell was doing in the 1940's.  James Burnham was a "Trotskyist" in 1938,
if you recall.  For years I had the conventional notion that Orwell
abandoned socialism because of disgust over the actions of the Comintern in
Spain and/or because of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact, yet if you look at
what he actually wrote in 1939 and 1940 you see a much different timeline.
That wasn't what did it for him.  He was all against the UK getting into the
war until they actually DID get into the war.  Then he didn't publish
anything for a while, and then he volunteered for military duty, and, when
he couldn't get it, he became the director of the Indian broadcasting
service of the BBC!  This was at a time when the UK was putting down a
significant upsurge of the independence movement in India.  I don't believe
such a post would have been very compatible with him being a staunch
anti-imperialist, don't you know.

If you are going to let Orwell off the hook for snitchery because, after
all, he was against Stalin, then how about Alexandr Solzhenitsyn?  I know
the SWP-US came to his defense in the 1970's and was inclined to forgive him
for being (in Kissinger's terms) "to the right of the czar," because if it
hadn't been for the evils of Stalin he might have been much better than he
really was.  The problem, of course, is that we have to deal with the real
Orwell, the real Solzhenitsyn, and for that matter the real George W. Bush,
rather than the better people that they might have been in an alternate
universe in which different events had happened.

I would hope that we could get some agreement among the socialists on this
list that, no matter how you evaluate Stalin, it is BETTER to be a
"Stalinist" than it is to be an accomplice of the imperialists' police.
That is, I WOULD hope this if bitter experience had not shown such hopes to
be utopian.

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago

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