George Orwell

(a.k.a. Eric Blair)


George Orwell Quotes

I have compiled a short archive of various of Orwell’s quotes.


The Pagan

Autumn 1918 — This is a poem that Blair wrote for his friend Jacintha Buddicom.  There, apparently, had been some sort of disagreement between the Oxford High School authorities and the Buddicoms over the Buddicoms’ agnosticism.

Our Minds are Married, But We are Too Young

Autumn 1918 — Blair wrote this love poem for Jacintha Buddicom at the age of fifteen.


Life in the Civilized World

7 July 1944 — This is a short story exploring human complacency with war.


8 June 1949 — The quintessential dystopian tale, 1984 is about a man named Winston Smith living under a totalitarian government guided by the ideology of English Socialism, or Ingsoc, which is both a political and a metaphysical philosophy.  Everything is centrally planned, and humans, in this horrid society, are considered worthless outside of “party needs.”  Individualism (referred to in the novel as “ownlife”) is squashed through brainwashing and the elimination of privacy, and the state even attempts to eliminate independent thought itself through control of the language.  War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.


Superstition Accepted Without Question

28 January 1944 — This article, written for Tribune, puts forward the argument that the thing that keeps superstitions alive is that they are often spead under the guise of scientific explanation.  Unfortunately, even adults tend to buy into superstitions.

History is Written By the Winners

4 February 1944 — In this article, Orwell laments the fact that facts are distorted or, in some cases, entirely fabricated by ruling establishments.  “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

What is Fascism?

24 March 1944 — Orwell points out fascism means many different things to many different groups of people.  He suggests that people use the term “with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.”

The Freedom to Wear Make-up

28 April 1944 — Orwell notes that the puritanical drive to suppress or ban cosmetics has continually failed.  Of course, the same applies to other government policies.  A war on drugs leads to greater drug use, a war on poverty leads to greater poverty, a war on terror leads to more people joining terrorist organisations, and so on.

The “Playing Into the Hands Of” Argument

9 June 1944 — This article explains that promoting truth is more important than keeping information useful to one’s ideological enemies out of their hands.  So if someone tells you that, by uttering some truth, you’re merely playing into the hands of robber barons, or commies, or terrorists, or “the Jews,” go ahead and ignore the person’s protests.  Truth is always valuable, and the Wikileaks people are absolutely heroic.

Orwell and the Enclosure of the Commons

18 August 1944 — In this article, Orwell defends returning land stolen through legislative fiat to the peasants from whom it was taken.  One may find it interesting that, despite the fact that Orwell describes himself as a socialist, he appears to defend private ownership of justly-acquired property in this article, while simultaneously condemning statist land grants.

Down With Alcohol Licensing Laws

18 August 1944 — Orwell objects to licensing laws, to blue laws, to laws regulating when pubs may be open, and to laws regulating what age a person must be to enter a pub.

The Recent Rising in Warsaw

1 September 1944 — This article gives the reader a fair representation of Orwell’s desire to think objectively rather than to accept propaganda blindly.  In 1984, objective reasoning would be referred to as “oldthink.”  This article also mentions how people sometimes accept policies, and, a few years later, repudiate the same exact policies, as though they had never supported them.  This would be called “doublethink” in 1984.  “We are at war with Eastasia; we have always been at war with Eastasia.”

Orwell on Capital Punishment

3 November 1944 — Orwell, interestingly, regards capital punishment as something that is socially necessary while also acknowledging that there is something horrific and unsettling about it.  He thus holds that cruel forms of capital punishment need be eschewed.

The Disregard of an Opponent’s Motives

8 December 1944 — Honesty is important in political discourse.  In this article, Orwell chastises those who misrepresent the motives of their political opponents.

The Class of ’64

2 February 1945 — As precursor to 1984, we find Orwell speculating that the world may eventually be divided into three megastates, and subject to permanent, unwinnable war.  In 1984, he named these three megastates Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.

The Impulse to Bully Others

29 November 1946 — In this article, Orwell expresses a worldview later put forward by his fictional character, Emmanuel Goldstein, that the world is entering a stage where poverty, as we have known it over the proceeding millennia, could be a thing of the past.  Unfortunately, the strive for pure power hinders this progress, in his view.  As Comrade O’Brien said to Winston Smith, “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.  We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.  Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power.  …  Power is not a means; it is an end.”

Orwell on Censorship

6 December 1946 — Orwell objects to censorship, whether it be the censorship of the f-word in magazines or governments censoring inconvenient historical truths.

How Do You Know the Earth is Round?

27 December 1946 — George Orwell agrees with Bernard Shaw that people are generally too credulous.  Orwell suggests that we should not be too hasty in our acceptance of beliefs based on the authority of experts.  Where possible, one should try to be rational and sceptical.

Works about Orwell

The Brilliant but Confused Radicalism of George Orwell by Jeff Riggenbach

15 June 2010 — Riggenbach discusses Orwell’s upbringing and its influence on his political outlook.  He also discusses Orwell’s place in the libertarian tradition.  This was originally released as a podcast titled “Eric Arthur Blair aka George Orwell (1903–1950),” which you can listen to here.

See Also

Studio One: 1984 (1953), directed by Paul Nickell

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954), directed by Rudolph Cartier

1984 (1956), directed by Michael Anderson

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), directed by Michael Radford

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) en Español, dirigido por Michael Radford

“Me and the Big Guy” (1999), directed by Matt Nix

George Orwell (1903–1950)