Published in tandem with the Electronic Watch on Zion
EDITOR: MARTIN WEBSTER
Postal address: Mail Box ICR, 44 The Common, IP22 2QP, United Kingdom.*
Mobile: 07932 049019
George Orwell, Oswald Mosley
and Double-Think on Europe
On 2nd July I sent an e-mail headed "Mosley got in wrong - Orwell got it right" to a Mosleyite friend of mine, Bill Baillie. Bill issues an interesting monthly e-bulletin of news-reviews and commentary called 'The Nation Revisited'. His address is
I argued that in his book '1984', Orwell had postulated that the future world would be administered by three super powers comprising (approximately) America, Asia and Europe; that these three powers would appear to be in a constant state of war with each other; that they would constantly appear to shift their alliances; but that this apparent state of flux was contrived to keep the masses in a permanent state of 'patriotic', dictatorship-accepting stampede and that behind the facade was a global dictatorship.
From this scenario of the future set out in '1984' I asserted that Orwell was against the development of regional power blocks, such as the EEC/EU, because they would lead ultimately to some form of World Government dictatorship. Hence my summation: "Orwell right -- Mosley wrong".
Quick as a flash, Bill forwarded to me an article by Orwell headed "Toward European Unity" published in 1947 in the 'Partisan Review', an obscure and long-since defunct left wing magazine. [See Appendix 1 below.]
If one were to judge this matter simply on a reaction to a headline, the reader might be tempted to say "Game, Set and Match to Bill".
But consideration of Orwell's text in that article and his very much more developed expositions in his books, not least his last work '1984', convinces me that Bill achieved what is known as a "debating point", but not a victory on substantive issues.
In the 'Partisan Review' article Orwell examined the various post WW2 futures seemingly on offer to mankind and opted for a vision of a unified Europe as a counter-poise to the American Empire and the Soviet Empire. Bill deployed this to insinuate that Orwell's vision of Europe and its purpose was similar to that of Sir Oswald Mosley.
Despite that heading of Orwell's 'Partisan Review' article, I feel justified in asserting that:
1) whatever vision Orwell had for Europe in the immediate aftermath of WW2, it was certainly not the same vision that Mosley had in mind;
2) Orwell would have abominated the European Union structure and the increasingly tyrannical way in which it operates, which we now see before our eyes.
MOSLEY HOPED TO REJOIN THE ESTABLISHMENT
In the long years that remained to him after WW2 Mosley devoted himself frantically to trying to re-ingratiate himself with the Establishment, of which he was once a member, by supporting those European politicians (headed by the Belgian politician Paul Henri Spaak) who were setting about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC), which later evolved into today's European Union (EU).
Mosley correctly assessed where the Establishment's new wave was coming from, but he was too vain to accept that there was no room on the Euro-surfboard for him and that he would be left to flounder in his rapidly dehydrating low-tide puddle.
The question is, would Mosley have supported the works and pomps of the European Union as it has evolved (and as predicted by those who were always opposed to the development of a European Super State)? I think one must answer "Yes" for two reasons:
Firstly, because the deceitful, corrupt, tyrannical, internationalist, multi-racialist and pro-World Government nature of the EEC/EU had become manifest before he died (late 1960s/early 1970s?) yet he continued to give unswerving support to the monster until his dying day from his Temple of Glory near Paris.
Secondly, Mosley's dwindling band of acolytes have followed their master's line, ignoring -- even attempting to justify -- every cynical act of corruption and dictatorship and ignoring the increasingly obvious fact that a wholly integrated European Super State is not the ultimate destination of the "European movement" but simply a regional consolidation preparatory to the imposition of a Global Super State or World Government.
EUROPEAN UNION A REGIONAL CONSOLIDATION PRIOR TO WORLD GOVERNMENT
As to George Orwell, as he died in 1950, he did not live to see even the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, let alone Stage 2 of the European Project, the European Economic Community. The European Union, stage 3 of the project, was denied as even being even a remote possibility by EEC propagandists throughout the 1960s and 1970s until it emerged fully formed from its chrysalis.
Spaak's dictum "We must deny with our mouths what we are building with our hands" has ever been the leitmotif of those involved in constructing the European Super State. Spaak's international career path led through the chief offices of the United Nations, NATO and EEC administrations.
Because of this background, and because of the values he extolled in his books, especially in 'Animal Farm' and '1984', I am entitled to assert that not only was George Orwell's vision of Europe different from that of Mosley's; but also that he would utterly abominate all the works and pomps of today's European Union.
Let me cite just one example of how Orwell's values conflict with the actual practice of the European Union dictators:
EU DICTATORS ATTEMPT TO CHANGE RULES LIKE THE PIGS IN 'ANIMAL FARM'
In 'Animal Farm', shortly after the animals' successful revolution against the farmer, the pigs, who were cleverer than the other animals and who had learned how to read and write, daubed on the barn door the fundamental principles of the creed of Animalism. Among these were: "All Animals are Equal" and "Four Legs Good -- Two Legs Bad".
After some while that dictum was altered by the pigs at night, while all the other animals were sleeping. The really stupid animals did not notice this, but thy few who had managed to get some grasp of reading discovered that the sign now read: "All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others".
Soon after, it was noticed that the pigs -- who had moved into the farm house, ending its use as a museum of the farmer's oppression -- had taught themselves to walk on their hind legs, but did so in the privacy of the farm house, out of sight of the farmyard animals.
When a protest meeting was called by the semi-educated to protest against this subversion of Animalism, the meeting was flooded by sheep, who had been taught a new slogan by the pigs which they bleated endlessly preventing any serious discussion: "Four Legs Good -- Two Legs Better".
Don't those examples of the cynical manipulation of fundamental rules and of mass brainwashing to prevent serious discussion mirror the spirit of the way in which the pigs who run the European Union have tried to foist a "Constitution" on us?
WILL THE IRISH BE BULLIED INTO STAGING ANOTHER REFERENDUM?
When that "move to ever closer union" (to quote the 1956 Treaty of Rome) was defeated by the good sense of voters in Holland and France, who were given a referendum on the matter, the text of the "Constitution" was juggle around, renamed a "Treaty", and then "adopted" by all the top pigs of the individual nations without further reference to their electorates .......with the exception of Ireland which has a national Constitution which requires such Treaties to be ratified by the electorate in a referendum. The Irish electorate said "NO!"
Previous treaties under which the European Union operates specify that new treaties can only be adopted if ALL the constituent nations vote to accept them. Hence, under the EU's own rules, the "Constitution"/"Treaty" fails ......or does it?
President Nicholas Sarkozy of France, who is President of Europe until the end of this year, had the chutzpah to use a state visit to Ireland to tell the Irish people that they must vote again (and if necessary, again......and again) until they vote "Yes", and that in the meanwhile, ratification of the "Treaty" will proceed, ignoring the Irish veto.
Sarkozy may get his way. Similar bullying caused the Danes, who had voted "NO!" in a previous referendum (I think in regard to the Maastricht Treaty) were cajoled to vote again "because the margin was so close...".
When they did vote again, this time "Yes", but by a very narrow margin, the EU did not call for yet another vote to be held "because the margin was so close....". Oh no! On that second occasion, just one vote would have been enough: "The people have spoken!"
We do not have to imagine too hard what Orwell's response would be to that kind of cynical, tyrannical and flagrantly undemocratic swindling.
But that kind of approach to the wishes of the ordinary peoples of the European nations has been characteristic of those who have run the European Project from its very outset.
"PEOPLE SELDOM KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM"
What is my friend Bill's response to this kind of manipulation. His bottom line is this, contained in issue #44 (May 08) of 'Nation Revisited': "......people seldom know what is best for them."
Bill, like most Mosleyites I know, agree that Coloured Immigration and compulsory multi-racialism, and the war in Iraq (two specify but two issues) were forced on the British people without any mandate in the first instance and against their sustained and clearly-expressed majority opposition ever since.
On those issues Mosleyites are at one with mainstream British racial-nationalists in stating that Coloured Immigration and the resultant multi-racial society, and the war in Iraq, have no democratic legitimacy, have been sustained by lies and deceptions, and must be halted as reversed as fast as is humanely possible.
All of us will remember Prime Minister Edward Heath's solemn and categorical assurance that British membership of the EEC "does not involve any surrender of essential national sovereignty?" That was the biggest, but far from the only, huge lie told to the British people in the service of conning them into the Europe.
WHAT IS "UNESSENTIAL" NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY?
Does Bill or any other Mosleyite today claim that British membership of the EEC/EU has not lost us "any essential national sovereignty"?
(Don't let's quibble about the meaning of the weasel-word "essential". Who will say what aspects of national sovereignty are "unessential"? Such a debate is as silly as a convent schoolgirl telling Mother Superior that she is "still a virgin" despite being "a little bit pregnant".)
Yet the Mosleyite mind-set is such that the imposition of the EEC and then the EU on Britain by means of dire bare-faced lies, told by the very same people who lied us into multi-racialism, into Iraq and into so many other places we did not want to go is somehow acceptable, right and "best for us"! This is a classic demonstration of Double-Think.
I say again: George Orwell would not have put up with such Double-Think (an expression he coined in '1984') from even the most senior Euro-Pigs, let alone from Mosleyites, whatever his theoretical, idealistic and tentative views may have been in a short article about Europe for an obscure magazine published in 1947.
P.S. Regardless of his views on European integration, I am glad that Bill Baillie located and put into circulation an article about George Orwell's persistent anti-semitism, entitled "Orwell's Dirty Secret". [See Appendix 2 below.]
First published: Partisan Review, London, GB - July/August 1947.
Reprinted: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell - 1968.
Toward European Unity
A Socialist today is in the position of a doctor treating an all but hopeless case. As a doctor, it is his duty to keep the patient alive, and therefore to assume that the patient has at least a chance of recovery. As a scientist, it is his duty to face the facts, and therefore to admit that the patient will probably die. Our activities as Socialists only have meaning if we assume that Socialism can be established, but if we stop to consider what probably will happen, then we must admit, I think, that the chances are against us. If I were a bookmaker, simply calculating the probabilities and leaving my own wishes out of account, I would give odds against the survival of civilization within the next few hundred years. As far as I can see, there are three possibilities ahead of us:
1. That the Americans will decide to use the atomic bomb while they have it and the Russians haven't. This would solve nothing. It would do away with the particular danger that is now presented by the U.S.S.R., but would lead to the rise of new empires, fresh rivalries, more wars, more atomic bombs, etc. In any case this is, I think, the least likely outcome of the three, because a preventive war is a crime not easily committed by a country that retains any traces of democracy.
2. That the present 'cold wa'’ will continue until the U.S.S.R., and several other countries, have atomic bombs as well. Then there will only be a short breathing-space before whizz! go the rockets, wallop! go the bombs, and the industrial centres of the world are wiped out, probably beyond repair. Even if any one state, or group of states, emerges from such a war as technical victor, it will probably be unable to build up the machine civilization anew. The world, therefore, will once again be inhabited by a few million, or a few hundred million human beings living by subsistence agriculture, and probably, after a couple of generations, retaining no more of the culture of the past than a knowledge of how to smelt metals. Conceivably this is a desirable outcome, but obviously it has nothing to do with Socialism.
3. That the fear inspired by the atomic bomb and other weapons yet to come will be so great that everyone will refrain from using them. This seems to me the worst possibility of all. It would mean the division of the world among two or three vast super-states, unable to conquer one another and unable to be overthrown by any internal rebellion. In all probability their structure would be hierarchic, with a semi-divine caste at the top and outright slavery at the bottom, and the crushing out of liberty would exceed anything that the world has yet seen. Within each state the necessary psychological atmosphere would be kept up by complete severance from the outer world, and by a continuous phony war against rival states. Civilizations of this type might remain static for thousands of years.
Most of the dangers that I have outlined existed and were foreseeable long before the atomic bomb was invented. The only way of avoiding them that I can imagine is to present somewhere or other, on a large scale, the spectacle of a community where people are relatively free and happy and where the main motive in life is not the pursuit of money or power. In other words, democratic Socialism must be made to work throughout some large area. But the only area in which it could conceivably be made to work, in any near future, is Western Europe. Apart from Australia and New Zealand, the tradition of democratic Socialism can only be said to exist -- even there it only exists precariously -- in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the Low Countries, France, Britain, Spain, and Italy. Only in those countries are there still large numbers of people to whom the word 'Socialism' has some appeal, and for whom it is bound up with liberty, equality, and internationalism. Elsewhere it either has no foot-hold or it means something different. In North America the masses are contented with capitalism, and one cannot tell what turn they will take when capitalism begins to collapse. In the U.S.S.R. there prevails a sort of oligarchical collectivism which could only develop into democratic Socialism against the will of the ruling minority. Into Asia even the word 'Socialism' has barely penetrated. The Asiatic nationalist movements are either Fascist in character, or look towards Moscow, or manage to combine both attitudes: and at present all movements among the coloured peoples are tinged by racial mysticism. In most of South America the position is essentially similar, so is it in Africa and the Middle East. Socialism does not exist anywhere, but even as an idea it is at present valid only in Europe. Of course, Socialism cannot properly be said to be established until it is world-wide, but the process must begin somewhere, and I cannot imagine it beginning except through the federation of the western European states, transformed into Socialist republics without colonial dependencies. Therefore a Socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worth-while political objective today. Such a federation would contain about 250 million people, including perhaps half the skilled industrial workers of the world. I do not need to be told that the difficulties of bringing any such thing into being are enormous and terrifying, and I will list some of them in a moment. But we ought not to feel that it is of its nature impossible, or that countries so different from one another would not voluntarily unite. A western European union is in itself a less improbable concatenation than the Soviet Union or the British Empire.
Now as to the difficulties. The greatest difficulty of all is the apathy and conservatism of people everywhere, their unawareness of danger, their inability to imagine anything new -- in general, as Bertrand Russell put it recently, the unwillingness of the human race to acquiesce in its own survival. But there are also active malignant forces working against European unity, and there are existing economic relationships on which the European peoples depend for their standard of life and which are not compatible with true Socialism. I list what seem to me to be the four main obstacles, explaining each of them as shortly as I can mange:
1. Russian hostility. The Russians cannot but be hostile to any European union not under their own control. The reasons, both the pretended and the real ones, are obvious. One has to count, therefore, with the danger of a preventive war, with the systematic terrorizing of the smaller nations, and with the sabotage of the Communist Parties everywhere. Above all there is the danger that the European masses will continue to believe in the Russian myth. As long as they believe it, the idea of a Socialist Europe will not be sufficiently magnetic to call forth the necessary effort.
2. American hostility. If the United States remains capitalist, and especially if it needs markets for exports, it cannot regard a Socialist Europe with a friendly eye. No doubt it is less likely than the U.S.S.R. to intervene with brute force, but American pressure is an important factor because it can be exerted most easily on Britain, the one country in Europe which is outside the Russian orbit. Since 1940 Britain has kept its feet against the European dictators at the expense of becoming almost a dependency of the U.S.A. Indeed, Britain can only get free of America by dropping the attempt to be an extra-European power. The English-speaking Dominions, the colonial dependencies, except perhaps in Africa, and even Britain's supplies of oil, are all hostages in American hands. Therefore there is always the danger that the United States will break up any European coalition by drawing Britain out of it.
3. Imperialism. The European peoples, and especially the British, have long owed their high standard of life to direct or indirect exploitation of the coloured peoples. This relationship has never been made clear by official Socialist propaganda, and the British worker, instead of being told that, by world standards, he is living above his income, has been taught to think of himself as an overworked, down-trodden slave. To the masses everywhere 'Socialism' means, or at least is associated with, higher wages, shorter hours, better houses, all-round social insurance, etc. etc. But it is by no means certain that we can afford these things if we throw away the advantages we derive from colonial exploitation. However evenly the national income is divided up, if the income as a whole falls, the working-class standard of living must fall with it. At best there is liable to be a long and uncomfortable reconstruction period for which public opinion has nowhere been prepared. But at the same time the European nations must stop being exploiters abroad if they are to build true Socialism at home. The first step toward a European Socialist federation is for the British to get out of India. But this entails something else. If the United States of Europe is to be self-sufficient and able to hold its own against Russian and America, it must include Africa and the Middle East. But that means that the position of the indigenous peoples in those countries must be changed out of recognition -- that Morocco or Nigeria or Abyssiania must cease to be colonies or semi-colonies and become autonomous republics on a complete equality with the European peoples. This entails a vast change of outlook and a bitter, complex struggle which is not likely to be settled without bloodshed. When the pinch comes the forces of imperialism will turn out to be extremely strong, and the British worker, if he has been taught to think of Socialism in materialistic terms, may ultimately decide that it is better to remain an imperial power at the expense of playing second fiddle to America. In varying degrees all the European peoples, at any rate those who are to form part of the proposed union, will be faced with the same choice.
4. The Catholic Church. As the struggle between East and West becomes more naked, there is danger that democratic Socialists and mere reactionaries will be driven into combining in a sort of Popular Front. The Church is the likeliest bridge between them. In any case the Church will make every effort to capture and sterilize any movement aiming at European unity. The dangerous thing about the Church is that it is not reactionary in the ordinary sense. It is not tied to laissez-faire capitalism or to the existing class system, and will not necessarily perish with them. It is perfectly capable of coming to terms with Socialism, or appearing to do so, provided that its own position is safeguarded. But if it is allowed to survive as a powerful organization, it will make the establishment of true Socialism impossible, because its influence is and always must be against freedom of thought and speech, against human equality, and against any form of society tending to promote earthly happiness.
When I think of these and other difficulties, when I think of the enormous mental readjustment that would have to be made, the appearance of a Socialist United States of Europe seems to me a very unlikely event. I don't mean that the bulk of the people are not prepared for it, in a passive way. I mean that I see no person or group of persons with the slightest chance of attaining power and at the same time with the imaginative grasp to see what is needed and to demand the necessary sacrifices from their followers. But I also can't at present see any other hopeful objective. At one time I believed that it might be possible to form the British Empire into a federation of Socialist republics, but if that chance ever existed, we lost it by failing to liberate India, and by our attitude toward the coloured peoples generally. It may be that Europe is finished and that in the long run some better form of society will arise in India or China. But I believe that it is only in Europe, if anywhere, that democratic Socialism could be made a reality in short enough time to prevent the dropping of the atom bombs.
Of course, there are reasons, if not for optimism, at least for suspending judgement on certain points. One thing in our favour is that a major war is not likely to happen immediately. We could, I suppose, have the kind of war that consists in shooting rockets, but not a war involving the mobilization of tens of millions of men. At present any large army would simply melt away, and that may remain true for ten or even twenty years. Within that time some unexpected things might happen. For example, a powerful Socialist movement might for the first time arise in the United States as 'capitalistic', with the implication that this is something unalterable, a sort of racial characteristic like the colour of eyes or hair. But in fact it cannot be unalterable, since capitalism itself has manifestly no future, and we cannot be sure in advance that the next change in the United States will not be a change for the better.
Then, again, we do not know what changes will take place in the U.S.S.R. if war can be staved off for the next generation or so. In a society of that type, a radical change of outlook always seems unlikely, not only because there can be no open opposition but because the régime, with its complete hold over education, news, etc. deliberately aims at preventing the pendulum swing between generations which seems to occur naturally in liberal societies. But for all we know the tendency one generation to reject the ideas of the last is an abiding human characteristic which even the N.K.V.D. will be unable to eradicate. In that case there may by 1960 be millions of young Russians who are bored by dictatorship and loyalty parades, eager for more freedom, and friendly in their attitude towards the West.
Or again, it is even possible that if the world falls apart into three unconquerable super-states, the liberal tradition will be strong enough within the Anglo-American section of the world to make life tolerable and even offer some hope of progress. But all this is speculation. The actual outlook, so far as I can calculate the probabilities, is very dark, and any serious thought should start out from that fact.
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 9:16 PM
Subject: Shocking news about George Orwell-from Jewish Tribal Review
Remembering George Orwell
1903, June 25. - 1950, January 21.
The Guardian - 13 August 2002
What happens when biographers discover something loathsome about their subject?
DJ Taylor on the ugly side of a radical hero.
ORWELL'S DIRTY SECRET
by DJ Taylor
Looking through the current swathe of publishers' catalogues, I was fascinated to note the long-delayed unveiling of a biography that literary London has had raptly in its sights since at least the middle of the last decade. It would be horribly unfair of me to name the biographee (a distinguished British novelist, dead these last 10 years) or the equally distinguished author, for most of this fascination stems not from the book's prospective merits, but from the existence of a kind of guerrilla warfare conducted by X the biographer and his subject Y almost from page to page. Basically, X, having cheerfully accepted the publisher's commission all those years ago, discovered at an early stage in the proceedings that he didn't much like the man he was writing about. When he found, slightly further down the road, that the dislike had turned to loathing, it was all he could do, apparently, to finish the work.
Curiously enough, this phenomenon is a great deal commoner than it sounds. Obviously, there are professional anti-biographers grimly at work - Kitty Kelley, for instance, or the late Albert Goldman, sedulous stitcher-up of Elvis Presley and others - who simply begin by assuming the worst and go on from there. Most biographers, though, start by adducing some mild affinity with their subject, or at the very least extending some faint respect to the career, the achievement or the personality.
But postwar biography is littered with the bones of supposedly absorbing subjects whose personalities turned out to be so rebarbative or uninspiring that teams of potential anatomists tried, laboured, and gave up.
Never mind the long years of work you have to put in, the interviews with the deceased's surviving acquaintances, the search - if the subject has been done before - for that striking new angle, that unknown love-child, that choir-boy fetish: biography requires a long-term emotional commitment. Five years in a study with someone you don't actually like? There are easier ways of making a living.
My own particular biographer's dilemma started with the discovery, in the files of the publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd, of a letter sent to Gollancz himself in the spring of 1933. The writer, Mr GM Lipsey, had read a copy of George Orwell's newly published Down and Out in Paris and London. He was furious, not only with Orwell but also with his publisher. "On its merits or otherwise I have no desire to comment," he commented. "But I am appalled that a book containing insulting and odious remarks about Jews should be published by a firm bearing the name 'Gollancz'." A spirited correspondence followed. There were threats of legal action, and finally the row fizzled out. Its shadow, though, hangs over much of Orwell's early writings, and indeed his whole attitude towards Jews, Jewishness and, later on, the foundation of a Zionist state.
Having read and annotated Down and Out in Paris and London half a dozen times, I was aware of the book's "Jew" references, just as one is aware of them in, to select a random handful of Orwell's 30s contemporaries, the work of Anthony Powell, JB Priestley, TS Eliot and Graham Greene. Reading it again, in the light of the Lipsey remonstrance, I was struck by how oddly gratuitous they are. Barely has the third chapter been reached, for example, before a hard-up Orwell is unloading clothes in a Parisian secondhand shop to "a red-haired Jew, an extraordinarily disagreeable man". Now, one can be disagreeable and a Jew, but the faint hint that the connection has a racial basis is somehow reinforced by the coda. "It would have been a pleasure to have flattened the Jew's nose, if only one could have afforded it."
Back in London, Orwell wanders into a coffee shop near Tower Hill where "in a corner by himself a Jew, muzzle down in the plate, was guiltily wolfing bacon." How does Orwell know the bacon-wolfer is a Jew? And how does he know that the emotion he detects in his face is guilt? There is something loaded, too, about the reference to a "muzzle", as if the man is not quite human, and the explanation for this sub-humanity has something to do with being Jewish.
One could ignore this, just possibly, if it existed in a single book. And yet for 10 years the abstract figure of "the Jew" makes regular appearances in Orwell's diaries. Out tramping in the early 30s, he falls in with "a little Liverpool Jew, a thorough guttersnipe" with a face that recalls "some low-down carrion bird". Watching the crowds thronging the London underground in October 1940, he decides that what is "bad" about the Jews is that they are not only conspicuous but go out of their way to make themselves so. He is particularly annoyed by "a regular comic-paper cartoon of a Jewess" who literally fights her way on to the train at Oxford Circus. Again, it is perfectly possible that the woman in question resembled an extra from Fiddler On The Roof and that the incident took place exactly as Orwell describes it. Even so, it is a safe bet that no early 21st-century liberal will be able to read Orwell's account without clenching their teeth.
It would be idle to classify Orwell as "anti-semitic". He had dozens of Jewish friends and kept a vigilant eye out for evidence of anti-semitism, both on theatre stages and in print. In fact, the complexities of what he thought and wrote about Jews defy easy summary (although it is worth pointing out that in an argument with Aneurin Bevan, he once referred to Zionists as "a gang of Wardour Street Jews" with a controlling interest over the British press.)
But having come across these attitudes, what do you do with them? Context, inevitably, is all. The only sensible answer to anyone who suggests that, say, Thackeray was a racist or that Trollope hated Italians is: so what? There is a particular school of modern literary criticism which believes in what used to be called the Shakespeare and the Second-best Bed syndrome (the reference is to the inferior piece of furniture bequeathed to the bard's wife in his will) - that if a writer holds to political and social views that are morally disgusting or behaves badly as a person, therefore his work will show similar flaws and should be similarly disregarded. Thus Tom Paulin, for example, seems to believe that because Philip Larkin was a racist and a misogynist his work either shouldn't be studied or, if so, taught only to be disparaged.
On the other hand, there are people who will tell you that it is possible - in fact, desirable - to separate a writer's life from his or her art, and to study the one in isolation from the other. Obviously it is theoretically possible to make this separation. But sooner or later anyone who studies the works of a particular poet or novelist is going to want to know about the life running on beneath, however subliminally or obliquely that knowledge will eventually influence what the reader thinks about the work.
Where does this leave Larkin? And to a slightly lesser extent, Orwell? From the biographer's point of view - not, admittedly, the only point worth staring from - it ought to make them more, rather than less, interesting. Pace Paulin, we should not be writing Larkin off as a racist but pondering the contrast between his venomous remarks about "niggers" and the extraordinary delicacy of his lament over the dead hedgehog scythed apart by his lawnmower.
Similarly, Orwell's fixation with doling out the word "Jew" like a kind of party badge raises fundamental questions about the social milieu he inhabited and the upbringing that put stereotypes of this sort into his head. Above all, perhaps - and this is a man regularly marked down by posterity as a secular saint - it makes him seem human in a way that much of the posthumous embalming of his reputation does not. Meanwhile, I look forward to this autumn's outpourings from Biographer X, the humanity of whose subject will, you feel, turn out to be rather more problematic.