by PAUL COLLITS – DESPITE the humiliation of the Aboriginal activist industry post October 14, the forces of revolutionary change aren’t yet done.
With more than 61 per cent of Australians flipping the bird at Indigenous exceptionalism, the sinister agenda of the activists’ radical ambitions are now in full view.
Sydney City’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore is coming after the statues afresh, playing her own part in the latest wave of top-down virtue creation for the poor old plebs.
Not to mention the creation of a Sydney City Council “Voice”.
Not everyone approves: “Sky News host Sharri Markson has hit out at Clover Moore over her calls to implement her own Indigenous Voice to Council.
“She really thinks she does run the whole country, not just her tiny Left-wing council,” Ms Markson said.
“We had a referendum actually, thank you, Clover Moore.”
The rich corporate types of the city who make up Moore’s core CBD based constituency will probably approve. As will, no doubt, the Queers for Palestine brigade who also inhabit Clover’s part of the world.
Defenestrating those of whom the beautiful people disapprove takes a number of forms, of which pulling down statues is merely the most immediately visible.
Other forms include writing them out of curricula, and often of official narratives, publishing revisionist histories of the newly contemptible, institutional takeovers by the ever-woke, and the increasingly popular “offence archaeology”, as the founder of Britain’s Free Speech Union, Toby Young, has called it.
This is the exposure of historical thought crimes and other sins of famous, previously pure people who, for some reason, now offend the ruling class.
Mostly, though not entirely, as we shall see, this activity is the preserve of the progressive, globalist, green, woke, COVID (PGGWC) class.
The latest contribution is from the Melbourne born – where else? – Anna Funder, who has gone after George Orwell, via a sympathetic biography of Orwell’s second wife, whose title (curiously) doesn’t mention her name (Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life, 2023).
Funder might be trying to make a point by this, or perhaps she thought no one would buy a biography of Eileen Blair, nee O’Shaughnessy.
The fallout from the book’s publication has been one of the big stories in the United Kingdom this past month.
It is the writers’ festival season, after all, and Funder is, if nothing else, a darling of the current season.
A big story? Because it fits ever-so-neatly the current preoccupation with tearing down and cancelling the enemies of the woke-class.
And it turns out that Orwell, one of the truly great twentieth century novelists and truth-tellers, is eminently fit-for-purpose.
He ticks the boxes that matter. Misogynist, homophobic, wife-bully. These three are more than enough. Time for him to go!
The famously homosexual conservative scholar-journalist Douglas Murray said “he couldn’t give a damn” about Orwell’s suggested homophobia.
Orwell’s queer critics probably regard Murray as highly as Aboriginal activists view Jacinta Price or Warren Mundine these days. Whatever the “Uncle Tom” equivalent is for gays.
I am guessing Murray doesn’t give a damn about them either. He recently slammed an article labelling Orwell as homophobic.
“None of this stuff is at all unknown – George Orwell is a human being, shocker!” he told Sky News Australia host Rita Panahi.
“This is just an attempt to grab headlines by the author in question.”
Mr Murray praised Orwell for contributing some of the most important works of the 20th century, some of the most important journalism and some of the most important fiction.
“Perhaps as a gay man, maybe I have some privilege to say this – I don’t give a damn that George Orwell didn’t think that gay people were exactly quite the same as, say, himself.
“I don’t need him to be in total alignment with my views in 2023.”
One of Orwell’s defenders has been his son, Philip Blair. Perhaps unsurprisingly. Or perhaps surprisingly, if the charges had substance.
“My dad George Orwell was a loving parent and a protective husband. As for being a closet homosexual, that’s a load of old bollocks!” says Richard Blair.
English author Peter Hitchens, in a spirited defence of the public Orwell, doesn’t refute the charges in the same way that Richard Blair does.
Rather, Hitchens – whose late brother, Christopher, was also a master interpreter of Orwell and a massive fan – takes a different line.
He asks: “Are the Left’s thought police about to cancel George Orwell? Socialists have long loathed the 1984 author because he ruthlessly exposed their absurdity. Now a book claims he was vile to his wife, homophobic and a sadist.”
First, he states the case for Orwell as a true Leftist hero: “Is George Orwell about to be cancelled? This gaunt, scruffy Old Etonian has been a grave nuisance to the Left now for more than 80 years.
“A revolutionary, an anti-imperialist, actually wounded in battle against the dictator Franco in the Spanish Civil War, he is over-qualified for socialist sainthood.
“Having worked as a colonial policeman in Burma, Orwell renounced and condemned his actions in that post. He lived as a tramp, worked for starvation wages in Paris, personally experienced the squalor and poverty of the Great Depression. He cannot be dismissed as a public school elitist.
“Yet he has also been one of the most effective and merciless critics of the failings of the Left. In two mighty classics, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four he imperishably exposed and lampooned the Left’s abiding tendency to intolerance, repression and the creation of police States.”
Yes, Orwell walked the talk. But he isn’t just an unrecognised hero to the Left.
He is now a hero to us all, especially to those who now perceive the threats to our freedom visited upon us by the corporatist State that is, perversely, now so worshipped by the new Left.
The types who will buy Funder’s book. And that is the point.
Orwell is now championed, quoted, quoted again, referred to, most by those who the woke class most despises.
Let us call them No voters. Deplorables.
Orwell was not woke enough and that matters hugely to those who now run the world.
The rest of us probably think that Orwell, like all of us, reaped the rewards of original sin and did bad things. Perhaps really bad things, notwithstanding Richard Blair’s touching encomium.
Finally, Hitchens notes: “Eileen is the cultural Left’s perfect weapon against Orwell, for she was a modern woman before her time and he treated her miserably.”
Should this mean the end of Orwell-the-hero?
In these totalitarian times, the downtrodden and gaslit need heroes. And we don’t care much if they were flawed.
We, especially, are drawn instinctively to those who our oppressors and their Leftist acolytes hate. Along with Murray, we are likely to flip the bird at the Funder class.
Speaking of flawed geniuses, of course, many of us still enjoy the product of modern artists David Bowie, who allegedly slept with underaged girls, and Michael Jackson who, well, we know, or at least we think we know, who he slept with.
One of the great ironies of all this is that Anna Funder also wrote a book called Stasiland (2002), which shone a light on life under Erich Honecker in Communist East Germany.
Life there was bleak, borderline dangerous, for citizens who stepped out of line. Honecker was the communist dictator’s communist dictator.
For a flavour of life under Honecker’s secret police (the Stasi), think Daniel Andrews and COVID. This is the closest, relevant comparator I can think of.
Why is Funder’s book on the Stasi ironic? Well, the freshly excoriated George Orwell has probably done more than anyone to expose disparage and ridicule the ways of totalitarian regimes of the type that East Germany best exemplified.
The Daily Mail also gets this: “In the bleakest of ironies, the Left is now trying to cancel the author who first warned of their totalitarian mindset. Here, his appalled son hits back at their attempts to trash his reputation.”
That is the post-modern Left for you. They wouldn’t know if their butts were on fire.
As they flail about looking endlessly for faux targets to go after for their faux flaws, flaws that no one who lives outside Newtown or Fitzroy gives a rat’s about, while going out of their way to avoid contributing to the solution of real problems. Things that, once upon a time, they pretended to care about.
Still, it probably sells books. Killing Orwell is box office.
While mentioning what’s left of the Left and its attempts to cancel heroes of normal people, we should revisit the late historian Paul Johnson.
Johnson was a dab hand at exposing the foibles of some of the Left’s own heroes. His most enjoyable effort at this was Intellectuals (1988 and 2007).
It is best read alongside the late Roger Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands (2015), itself a re-publication of his 1985 classic, Thinkers of the New Left.
The latter effectively killed Scruton’s academic career for thirty odd years, because the old Left didn’t like having done to them what Funder and her tribe are now doing to the new Left’s enemies.
Scruton showed his targets (like Habermas, Foucault, Gramsci, Said, Dworkin, JK Galbraith) to be intellectual pygmies.
Johnson showed his (Rousseau, Marx, Russell, Sartre, Mailer, Chomsky) to be moral pygmies, and so ill-equipped to lecture the rest of us on how to live.
Of Johnson’s book, it was said: “Paul Johnson examines whether intellectuals are morally fit to give advice to humanity.
“How great is their respect for truth? What is their attitude to money? How do they treat their spouses and children – legitimate and illegitimate? How loyal are they to their friends? In essence, do their private practices match the standard of their public principles?”
No need to guess Johnson’s verdicts. Would Funder concur? Would she write about them?”
Alas, the statues of these paragons of Leftist virtue remain erect. Not so their flaccid ideas, which, unlike Orwell’s, have been shown to be fraudulent.
As Peter Hitchens notes, it is yet another irony that the BBC has a statue of Orwell out the front.
Of all institutions to think that Orwell would feel comfortable standing at its portal, one doesn’t expect it to be the trendoid, Leftist BBC.
But Hitchens thinks the statue of Eric Arthur Blair unlikely to last much longer in its current spot.PC