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For Orwell, Life Imitated Art

Posted on Sep 4, 2007

It turns out that George Orwell, famed author of “1984” and originator of the term “Big Brother,” was spied on by his government for more than 10 years. Members of Britain’s MI5 suspected the writer of being a communist, until they bothered to read him, and were apparently baffled by his “bohemian” clothes.



A Sergeant Ewing of Special Branch, monitoring Orwell’s attempt to recruit Indians to work for the BBC’s India service in January 1942, noted: “This man has advanced communist views. ... He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours.”

A Home Office official named W Ogilvie—whose pencil was probably responsible for a question mark against Ewing’s statement—responded a few days later: “I spoke to Inspector Gill of Special Branch asking whether his sergeant could elaborate on the question of Blair’s ‘advanced communist views’. Mr Gill rang me up this morning to say that Sergeant Ewing described Blair as being ‘an unorthodox communist’ apparently holding many of the views but by no means subscribing fully to the party’s policy.

“I gathered that the good sergeant was rather at a loss as to how he could describe this rather individual line, hence the expression. ... This fits in with the picture we have of Blair@Orwell [sic]. It is evident from his recent writings ... that he does not hold with the Communist party, nor they with him.”

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By P. T., September 4, 2007 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment

Big Brother?  Wasn’t that a rock band?  Janis Joplin?

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By THOMAS BILLIS, September 4, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
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I guess this is the history of freedom the western world wants to export to the rest of the world.You must fix your own house before you go and fix somebody elses.Thank God for George Orwell he gave us a glimpse into where we are headed and we continue to ignore it at our own peril.George Bush is already the foremost exponent of Newspeak.If you do not know too many words it makes it hard to think in many words.

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By Technodaoist, September 4, 2007 at 9:08 am Link to this comment
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Form over substance.

How one appears is more important than what someone actually does.  It was that way then, and it is the way it is now.

Orwell knew it.  Orwell wrote about it.

Read 1984.  It’s double-good book.

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By felicity, September 4, 2007 at 8:46 am Link to this comment


Yep.  Control freaks, be they communists, joseph mccarthy’s, christian-rightists, bushies, neocons…pop up periodically.

As a college student in the early fifties I was required to sign a ‘loyalty oath’ (to the USA) if I wanted the state of California to pay me for my on-campus job. 
I refused to sign and didn’t get paid. Not only was the requirement an insult, signing an ‘oath’ to anything may, some day, come back to bite you in the ass. Indeed…“you never know what will be considered ‘illegal’ in the future.”

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By jfior, September 4, 2007 at 6:59 am Link to this comment

It really is funny that this has just been posted on Truthdig…I literally just finished “listening” to his book, 1984, last night.  For all of you who read the book in high school like I did, I suggest you reread it since you now undoubtedly have a better perspective of the world….what I found most fascinating is that I know he was insinuating that Big Brother was the creation and tool of communism, but reading the book today that is not all that apparent….he could just as easily be referring to the Christian right…the descriptions of the Party are not all that much different from what you hear from certain members of the Right these days…“you must live your life in Christ (read, the Party) etc….

For people who claim they don’t mind surveillance because they are not doing anything wrong/illegal, they should worry about putting the infrastructure in place now…because you never know what will be considered “illegal” in the future….need to fight the creation of the infrastructure at all costs so it can never be abused.

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