I’m indebted to Guest Who for posting this bizarre tweet by Nick Robinson about Orwell. I was stunned by it, struggling to absorb the fact that the BBC could put a statue of Orwell up at its headquarters, complete with the following quote:
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
Once I’d recovered sufficiently to ask Google for help, I was directed to Jean Seaton, professor of media history and the official BBC historian, who last month wrote an article on Orwell. I found her assertion that, “Orwell would laugh at the statues of him that are sprouting up,” fascinating since it appeared to be a direct assault on those who had commissioned the statue and placed it at BBC headquarters. Could this be evidence of independent thinking, free of the iron grip of far-left ideology which has paralysed so many universities?
Well, maybe not since the professor also tells us that, “In the US, sales [of 1984] surged as people searched for a way of getting to grips with the reality of the Trump administration.” As if Trump, the embattled president of a democracy with all its checks and balances, resembles Big Brother, who has absolute power over life and death as the head of a dictatorship; as if Trump, as he struggles to drain the swamp, is in fact the alpha alligator.
Why did the professor need to signal her virtue with the obligatory anti-Trump stance? Perhaps she is simply making amends for being critical of the statue. She needs to understand that even if the rise in sales of 1984 can be positively linked to Trump, that says nothing about the president himself but is rather revealing about the paranoia and ignorance of so many who oppose him.
But to get back to the BBC, does it not realize that Orwell knew what the state propagandist was about even back in the 1940s and that he would be horrified if he could see it now?
Did the BBC read 1984 without understanding a word of it?
In attempting to align itself with Orwell, the BBC has committed an arrogant act of historical revisionism that, for me, is the culmination of all its previous sins. This alleged media champion of liberty is standing shoulder to shoulder with George Orwell and telling people what they do not want to hear? What rubbish. From climate change skeptics to Donald Trump’s remarkable achievements to the courageous stand by Tommy Robinson and others against the Islamic invasion of the West, the BBC is in fact not telling people what it does not want them to hear.
The Ministry of Truth is lying again and this one is the biggest lie it has ever told.
Updates, June 10:
1. Thanks for all those fascinating contributions. I learned a lot from them and have responded to some of them.
2. I have substituted ‘bizarre’ for ‘extraordinary’ to describe Nick Robinson’s tweet.
3. The following is taken from Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, published in 1937, Penguin edition pp 189-90. Over 80 years later, it still rings true:
“It is usual to speak of the Fascist objective as the ‘beehive state’, which does a grave injustice to bees. A world of rabbits ruled by stoats would be nearer the mark. It is against this beastly possibility that we have got to combine.
“The only thing for which we can combine is the underlying ideal of Socialism; justice and liberty. But it is hardly strong enough to call this ideal ’underlying’. It is almost completely forgotten. It has been buried beneath layer after layer of doctrinaire priggishness, party squabbles, and half-baked ‘progressivism’ until it is like a diamond hidden under a mountain of dung. The job of the Socialist is to get it out again. Justice and Liberty! Those are the words that have got to ring like a bugle across the world. For a long time past, certainly for the last ten years, the devil has had all the best tunes. We have reached a stage when the very word ‘Socialism’ calls up, on the one hand, a picture of aeroplanes, tractors, and huge glittering factories of glass and concrete; on the other, a picture of vegetarians with wilting beards, of Bolshevik commissars (half gangster, half gramophone), of earnest ladies in sandals, shock-headed Marxists chewing polysyllables, escaped Quakers, birth-control fanatics, and Labour Party backstairs-crawlers. Socialism, at least in this island, does not smell any longer of revolution and the overthrow of tyrants; it smells of crankishness, machine-worship, and the stupid cult of Russia. Unless you can remove that smell, and very rapidly, Fascism may win.”