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George Orwell Blogs From the Grave 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-man-is-talented dept.
flaming error writes to tell us the Orwell Prize organization will, starting today, post George Orwell's diary entries online exactly 70 years after they were written. NPR discussed the blog and shared excerpts from the diary. We talked about a similar undertaking several years ago, when a diary from 1660 was put online. According to the blog's creators, it will allow you to "follow Orwell's recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict."
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George Orwell Blogs From the Grave

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  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:05PM (#24538005) Homepage

    If all you've read is "1984", you don't realize what a great commentator he was.

    • by Red Samurai (893134) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:10PM (#24538055)
      Very true. His essays and political commentary are some of the best I've ever read, and still hold great relevance today. I recommend them to anyone who isn't already familiar. That said, I'm looking forward to reading these diary entries.
    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:47PM (#24538291)

      You can read some of them here

      http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/index_en [orwell.ru]

      This is something a lot of slashdotters really need to read
      http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat [orwell.ru]

      (v) Pacifism. 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. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransfered.

      • by Boronx (228853)

        This is something a lot of slashdotters really need to read

        Why?

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          This is something a lot of slashdotters really need to read

          Why?

          Maybe this one [orwell.ru] will help explain it better:

          Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me'. The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security. Mr Savage remarks that 'according to this type of reasoning, a German or Japanese pacifist would be "objectively pro-British".' But of course he would be! That is why pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both of them the penalty is, or can be, beheading) while both the Germans and the Japanese do all they can to encourage the spread of pacifism in British and American territories. The Germans even run a spurious 'freedom' station which serves out pacifist propaganda indistinguishable from that of the P.P.U. They would stimulate pacifism in Russia as well if they could, but in that case they have tougher babies to deal with. In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.

          Now, apply that to today. If you haven't figured it out yet replace "fascist" with "terrorist", "Germany and Japan" with "Al Qaeda and Iran" and "freedom station" with "ANSWER", "MoveOn.org", "Code Pink" or "CAIR". Also, pay close attention to "he that is not with me is against me". Where have I heard that before? (and don't say 'Revenge of the Sith"!)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Boronx (228853)

            Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist.

            Orwell later wrote his regrets about that bit.

            If you haven't figured it out yet replace "fascist" with "terrorist", "Germany and Japan" with "Al Qaeda and Iran"

            Why would anyone do something so ridiculous? This is exactly the kind of muddled thinking of which Orwell correctly accused pacifists in his day.

            There were German pacifists in 1914 and 1939. Should we applaud their suppression the same as we do the British pacifists?

            • Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist.

              Orwell later wrote his regrets about that bit.

              Did he really? The nearest I can find is this

              http://idiocentrism.com/orwell.htm [idiocentrism.com]

              We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.

              This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions. For there are occasions when even the most misguided person can see the results of what he is doing. Here is a crude but quite possible illustration. A pacifist is working in some job which gives him access to important military information, and is approached by a German secret agent. In those circumstances his subjective feelings do make a difference. If he is subjectively pro-Nazi he will sell his country, and if he isn't, he won't. And situations essentially similar though less dramatic are constantly arising.

              In my opinion a few pacifists are inwardly pro-Nazi, and extremist left-wing parties will inevitably contain Fascist spies. The important thing is to discover which individuals are honest and which are not, and the usual blanket accusation merely makes this more difficult. The atmosphere of hatred in which controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel, or both, than to find out what he is really like. It is this habit of mind, among other things, that has made political prediction in our time so remarkably unsuccessful.

              Vol. III, p. 292 ("As I Please", Tribune, Dec. 8, 1944)

              He regretted the use of the word "Objectively". I can see why, it's out of character for him. That doesn't detract from the fact tha WWII English Pacifists were harming the war effort against the Nazis, whatever their subjective feelings.

              • by mvdwege (243851)

                You cannot read. Orwell specifically mentions in the passage you quote that blanket condemnations should be avoided, and yet you apply his words to all English pacifists.

                Does becoming a reactionary require a lobotomy?

                Mart

            • There were German pacifists in 1914 and 1939. Should we applaud their suppression the same as we do the British pacifists?

              It depends on what you believe:

              I appeal for cessation of hostilities ... because war is bad in essence. You want to kill Nazism. Your soldiers are doing the same work of destruction as the Germans. The only difference is that perhaps yours are not as thorough as the Germans ... I venture to present you with a nobler and a braver way, worthy of the bravest soldiers. I want you to fight Nazism without arms or ... with non-violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them ... I am telling His Excellency the Viceroy that my services are at the disposal of His Majesty's Government, should they consider them of any practical use in advancing the object of my appeal.

              * "To Every Briton" (1940)

              -Mohandas K. Gandhi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zullnero (833754)
            Replacing one word with another without taking into account the differences in definition between the two is completely ignorant.

            What I'm gathering you're trying to say, however, is that in the US, the attempt to repress the struggle between two sides by way of the so called "War on Terror" is Orwell's definition of pacifism. Therefore, you are likening Bush to Hitler as a result of his stating on numerous occasions that if "you're not with me, you're against me".

            As far as "moveon.org" goes, it's a f
            • by ArcherB (796902)

              As far as "moveon.org" goes, it's a freaking social club for Democrats. That's all it is. They have bake sales to raise money to put ads defending their candidates on the TV. The Republicans have lots of those organizations too. One of them is called "Freedom's Watch". Now THOSE are some creepy dudes, and their name sounds like it was taken directly from another certain black arm band wearing militia. Code Pink has a dramatic name, but their reasoning is that they believe the Iraq War to be an illegal and Unconstitutional occupation that is causing the deaths of US soldiers for entirely unclear, vague reasons. And they have plenty of evidence to back up that claim that the Bush Administration cannot refute. ANSWER? CAIR? All more of the above.

              Of course! MoveOn and Code Pink are just active in the community holding bake sales while any equivalent group on the right are just brownshirts. Nice, open mind you have there.

              What I'm gathering you're trying to say, however, is that in the US, the attempt to repress the struggle between two sides by way of the so called "War on Terror" is Orwell's definition of pacifism. Therefore, you are likening Bush to Hitler as a result of his stating on numerous occasions that if "you're not with me, you're against me".

              I think his point was to berate those Americans that do things like block military supplies from entering a port. Who do you think that helps? How is blocking the supplies different from, say, sinking the ship that was carrying them in reference to the conflict?
              And I'm sorry, but you have to be a complete fucking moron to not und

            • by Matimus (598096)

              And the Bushies LOVE their Ayn Rand.

              Except for the part where she was a staunch atheist. Or the part where she supported the expansion of social freedoms. Or the part where she wanted to reduce the size of the government.

              You seem to be confusing Libertarians with Republicans. Not even all Libertarians are Objectivists. Most Republicans are just as likely to dislike Ayn Rand as much as most Democrats, though it may be for different reasons. It is far from love anyway.

          • by Skreems (598317) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @03:40PM (#24539571) Homepage
            The problem is, the interpretation of that passage out of context seems to lead to the logical fallacy that opposition to one cause automatically equates to support of ANY cause which opposes the same thing. However, it's entirely possible to be both anti-Britain and anti-Germany, to use an example from the quote. It's tantamount to claiming that there are only two possible sides to any conflict, which is obviously false as any reasonably intelligent person can always construct a new viewpoint that stands in support or opposition of both sides.

            Besides which, the man's other writing clearly displayed a realization of the consequences of this kind of "with us or against us" thinking, and it was not a bright world that he saw emerging from that sentiment.
          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            All that sums up to for me is "totalitarianism is more effective at suppressing dissent (which pacifism is one form of) than democracy". Well, yeah, that's the point. Sure, dissent weakens the resolve of a nation but suppressing dissent in order to remain strong is the wrong approach. What's the point of fighting the enemy when, in order to defeat him, you become like him? What do I care if my government is seated in Berlin or Washington if it has become totalitarian in order to win the war over my country?

          • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:32PM (#24539883) Homepage Journal

            Ah yes. The famous anti-pacifism rant Orwell published at the beginning of World War II. The one that keeps making the rounds on conservative blogs, being posted by idiots like you who have not read a letter of Orwell's other work. By posting this, you give yourself away as yet another stupid parrot.

            To reiterate what someone else already posted: Orwell retracted that position. Which you would have known, if you had actually read his collected essays.

            It really pains me to see how reactionary scum like you try to hide behind one of the most honest men the twentieth century gave us, without giving his memory even the respect to actually read his work. Then again, I take solace in the fact that Orwell also gives plenty of tools to identify blackshirt-supporting, Daily Mail-reading closet fascists like you.

            Mart

            • Ah yes. The famous anti-pacifism rant Orwell published at the beginning of World War II. The one that keeps making the rounds on conservative blogs, being posted by idiots like you who have not read a letter of Orwell's other work. By posting this, you give yourself away as yet another stupid parrot.

              To reiterate what someone else already posted: Orwell retracted that position. Which you would have known, if you had actually read his collected essays.

              It really pains me to see how reactionary scum like you try to hide behind one of the most honest men the twentieth century gave us, without giving his memory even the respect to actually read his work. Then again, I take solace in the fact that Orwell also gives plenty of tools to identify blackshirt-supporting, Daily Mail-reading closet fascists like you.

              Mart

              Right, because Orwell would love people who call their opponents "blackshirt-supporting, Daily Mail-reading closet fascists like you"

              • by mvdwege (243851)

                Orwell did plenty of insulting himself. Which you would have known, if you had read anything beyond the out of context quotes that make the rounds in the reactionary echo chamber.

                Mart

          • What he said made sense in the second world war. Britain was under threat by a military force that had already conquered the rest of Europe. They only narrowly failed to invade Britain, and that was largely due to distance - Luftwaffe fighters only had enough fuel to spend a few minutes over the air of Britain while RAF fighters could spend a lot longer (and refuel and be back up in the fight quickly), and both sides only had enough ammunition for around 16 seconds of sustained fire (but, again, the RAF c

      • "You know, Dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in 'Nam of course." -Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski

      • by rdebath (884132)

        "echo -e 'global _start \n _start: \n mov eax, 2 \n int 80h \n jmp _start' > a.asm; nasm a.asm -f elf; ld a.o -o a

        Now that's mean. (no I didn't run it)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gregbot9000 (1293772)
      Best one: Politics and the English language, should be required reading for all English classes.

      These journals as blogs are neat, but I hate it when the people posting it in the present step in with a post of their own every few days, really breaks the illusion. On the whole, these are great ways to read journals I'd never pickup as a solid book. Theres another one that follows a WW1 soldier but it sucks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by shma (863063)

      If all you've read is "1984", you don't realize what a great commentator he was.

      But there's nothing stopping you from finding out [george-orwell.org].

      I personally recommend his Notes on Nationalism [george-orwell.org]

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      His name is Eric Blair. Let's stop perpetuating the wrong name shall we?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        And while we're at it, everybody get a magic marker and 'correct' your record collection to read

        • Vincent Furnier
        • Declan McManus
        • Marc Feld
        • Robert Zimmerman
        • Marvin Lee Aday

        They're not 'wrong' names, they're noms de plume, there is a difference.
        (Free virtual coconut to anyone who gets them all without looking them up)

      • by pnewhook (788591)

        It's not the wrong name, it's a pseudonym chosen by him.

        But there are truly several wrong names in the history books, like Christopher Columbus. This is an anglicized name because Americans didn't like the idea of an Italian discovering 'their' country. His real name is Cristoforo Colombo.

        And George W Bush. His real name is George Shouldabeenimpeached Bush.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pha7boy (1242512)
      I always found Orwell to be a visionary. Not like Nostradamus, but in a specific way - of attracting attention to the possible undercurrents of events and their consequences. I look forward to seeing what he recorded as his personal thoughts.
    • My personal favorite novels were "Animal Farm" and "Coming up for air".

      And this rather nice instructive rant on English language usage by this master thinker and word smith;

      http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm [mtholyoke.edu]

      wabi-sabi
      matthew

  • Anne Frank? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:06PM (#24538019) Homepage

    I'd really like to see this done with Anne Frank as well. I've actually suspected that this would be done with a nice round number of years since the events, such as 100 years later.

    • Re:Anne Frank? (Score:5, Informative)

      by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@NoSpAm.gmail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:15PM (#24538077) Homepage Journal

      I've actually suspected that this would be done with a nice round number of years since the events, such as 100 years later.

      Actually, you's probably want a multiple of 28 years, so that the days of the week line up. For a short period of time, a multiple of 7 is probably OK, but if you pass over any leap years, they'll throw things off.

      • by joe_kull (238178)

        Actually, you's probably want a multiple of 28 years, so that the days of the week line up. For a short period of time, a multiple of 7 is probably OK, but if you pass over any leap years, they'll throw things off.

        That works fine for 28/56/84 year "anniversaries" but once you cross 100 things start getting wonky, especially once you cross 1582 (the year).

        • So, assuming I repost her diaries, I should think again before casually time traveling to before 1582 and ignorantly expecting the days to line up appropriately?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          That works fine for 28/56/84 year "anniversaries" but once you cross 100 things start getting wonky, especially once you cross 1582 (the year).

          You early adopters can get off my lawn. I (and the *nix 'cal' program) didn't go Gregorian until September 1752.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            I (and the *nix 'cal' program) didn't go Gregorian until September 1752

            I had no idea Unix was 250 years old.

        • Actually, you's probably want a multiple of 28 years, so that the days of the week line up. For a short period of time, a multiple of 7 is probably OK, but if you pass over any leap years, they'll throw things off.

          That works fine for 28/56/84 year "anniversaries" but once you cross 100 things start getting wonky, especially once you cross 1582 (the year).

          So we were lucky that 2000 was a leap year? (happens once every 400 years).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:09PM (#24538039)
    August 9th

    Dear diary,
    Braaaaaaaaiiins!

    George.
  • long diary (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aggrav8d (683620) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:12PM (#24538061) Homepage
    Wait, the diary was from 1660, but ends in 1942? Tell me we've sequenced his DNA and found out how he lived that long. I don't think I'm going to get through the whole thing if I read just one entry a day.
  • This is good news, reported in a good story, but the headline must be the single dubmest headline. Ever. Not only on Slashdot, mind you. Ever.
  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aerthling (796790) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:45PM (#24538273)

    I think most people would prefer to have the entire diary available to download in one lump sum rather than having bits and pieces rationed out at intervals. I know I certainly would.

    I think it's wonderful that they're publishing them, but imho the format is idiotic.

  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SilentBob0727 (974090) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @12:48PM (#24538315) Homepage

    How good will he be about responding to comments?

  • George Orwell was a very good writer but honestly the whole "real time" idea feels weak.
    Reading the story one paragraph a day for four years doesn't make it more interesting...or does it ?
    __
    just passing through
    • by damburger (981828)
      It is a good idea, by reporting the events at the pace they really happened you get a more immersive experience. You can breeze through a comprehensive history of WW2 in a couple of hours, but this takes you through it like a person who lived it.
  • Tuesday (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ghubi (1102775)
    In 1938 (year the diary starts) August 9th was a Tuesday.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:15PM (#24539795) Homepage

    Blair worked for the British Ministry of Information during WWII. Many of his memos are preserved in "Orwell - the Lost Writings", which turned up in the BBC archived a few years ago. This is where much of the detail of "1984" came from. "Big Brother" is actually some manager called "B.B." at the MoI. "Newspeak" comes from the BBC's effort to broadcast to the colonies in Basic English. One of Blair's jobs was translating material into Basic English, which, he discovered, is a political act. You have to detail the meaning of any idioms and metaphors when grinding down text into Basic English. Political ambiguity does not translate unless made specific.

    Incidentally, Blair refused to write as George Orwell for the MoI; he took the position that they had hired Eric Blair, not George Orwell, and weren't entitled to use his professional reputation.

    To get a sense of what the Ministry of Information turned out as propaganda, see this WWII MoI video [google.com].

  • Is there a page that I can subscribe to the daily entries as they're posted?

  • Anyone interested in Orwell should read the definitive critique:
    "Why Orwell Matters" by Christopher Hitchens.

    Lessee now... is it a right-wing diatribe? Or a left-wing one?
    YOU decide!

    .

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