George Orwell, Freedom and Leadership

24 04 2012

“High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.” (George Orwell)

One of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read came as an English assignment in the late 1970’s.  Animal Farm by George Orwell—the pen name of Eric Blair—is a parable of the mechanics of totalitarianism.  He wrote this in 1945.  Four years later, he penned his terrifyingly prescient novel of the future, 1984, in which he showed the ways in which the state would hijack our freedoms and privacy in the interest of “the common good.”

I doubt he had any idea just how prophetic these writings were.  Big Brother is now watching us. Infotech has facilitated this but it is simply the infrastructure.  Laziness and apathy have done far more.  We have to stop the clamor for bread and circuses. We have to speak up and do our homework.

Orwell wrote at the time of the spread of Communism in Eastern Europe, the end of World War II and the early years of the Cold War.  He saw that Communism and other toxic ideologies are antithetical to the dignity of the human person.  In his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” he reminded us that insincerity is the enemy of sensible language.  If you have ever read Marx or any of the reprehensible euphemisms currently in vogue, designed as they are to cloak evil, you understand.

Freedom is precious.  We cannot afford to become surrogates to a state hostile to the values that made this nation great.  To couch evil in language most do not understand is to give it a pass.

Remember this the first Tuesday in November of this year

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