After doing several pub quizzes with questions about Animal Farm, I decided to finally read the book. I knew it was about Communism and its perversion to dictatorship, but I didn’t realise it was based on Stalin and Russia in particular, and its colourful history of trying to get it published at a time when the UK and USA were allied with Russia, despite its politics, poverty, human rights abuses and everything else. And also how apt Orwell’s words are still today, much as with Nineteen Eighty-Four.

So here are a few wise words from the appendix, which was to be Orwell”s preface:

  • “In this country, intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face”
  • “The British press is extremely centralised and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics”
  • “A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing”
  • “Is every opinion, however unpopular – however foolish, even – entitled to a hearing?”
  • “In [the] case [that] current orthodoxy happens to be challenged…the principle of free speech lapses”
  • “Freedom, as Rosa Luxembourg said, is ‘freedom for the other fellow’. The same principle is contained in the famous words of Voltaire: ‘I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it.'”
  • “There is now a widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods. If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what needs. And who are its enemies? It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who ‘objectively’ endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines. In other words, defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought.”
  • “These people don’t see that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you”
  • “At least let us have no more of this nonsense about defending liberty against Fascism. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

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