Striking Back at the Empire
Orwell, an old Etonian scion of a family of imperial civil servants, grew into socialism as opposed to the instant “Road to Damascus” conversions of some his contemporaries to Communism, which led them sometimes to equally quick apostasy. Seeing British “democracy” at work in India clearly set him on his political path. But his opposition to imperialism in principle did not blind him to the pragmatic benefits that the system could bring, or even to the dedication of some its practitioners on the ground. Describing himself as a “Tory Anarchist,” to the editor of the Adelphi magazine was not the same as being a conservative: Samuel Johnson, William Cobbett, Dean Swift, and others provided a respectable pedigree for writers who happily called themselves Tories while defending what they saw, or at least presented, as ancient liberties against contemporary encroachments. It gave them, and him a strong pulpit to preach from.