The Severed Wasp

  • Patrick Reilly


It would be at once impertinent and futile to overrule now Orwell’s claim to be a man of the Left. His rebuff to the Duchess of Atholl’s invitation to join her League for European Freedom is proof enough: ‘I cannot associate myself with an essentially Conservative body which claims to defend democracy in Europe, but has nothing to say about British Imperialism …. I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country’ (CEJL, iv, 49; iii, 370).1 Despite the exegetical hijackings of his last books and their perversion into a reactionary plea for quieta non movere, his testimony to his socialist commitment is irrefutable. Soviet Communism was, for him, simply a screen for Russian expansionism, but he no more attacked Russia out of opposition to socialism than Luther attacked Rome out of opposition to Christianity. The anger, in each case, is at a perversion of the true faith and is the greater because the betrayal takes place in the purported citadel. Being on the Left meant for Orwell exposing Russia as the greatest single obstacle to the achievement of socialism.


Common People Dialectical Materialism English People Institutional Religion British Imperialism 
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© Patrick Reilly 1986

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  • Patrick Reilly

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