Discussion in 'Off-Topic Forum' started by Trusteft, Jul 24, 2022.
Only one page long.
Orwell really was a great writer and that letter is one of those "never heckle the comedian as you will always always lose" moments, just very measured and eloquent.
read it twice .... cause I didn't fully understand it the first time .. much like 1984 if I am honest,
Maybe I missed something, but I am surprised that some of those things came out of George Orwell's pen.
Is this still related to India? Or is Orwell writing about his work India in general, but pretending that India did not exist and only making his point based on how a cherry picked portion of British subjects fared during the war, when it suits him? Because India suffered a huge food shortage during the war, with 2-4 million people starving to death just in Bengal in '43. The famine was caused and exacerbated by multiple factors, some of which being: the inflow of currency in order to finance military activities, that caused inflation and made food more expensive (and thus less accessible) for most people; the prioritization of military over civilians when distributing the food and other goods (leading both to shortages and further price increases); the ban on inter-provincial trade that prevented food from less affected provinces being redistributed to those more affected; the food drives, during which the countryside was swept for what was deemed stockpiled food (with severe punishments for the alleged perpetrators), and then shipped to the urban centers, the irony being that the countryside was the most affected by famine, while the urban centers were where most of the stockpiled food already was. And when, after this was done, the Governor of Bengal, John Herbert, who was in charge of the food drives, wrote to the Viceroy of India Victor Hope of the things that his men saw in the field while confiscating the food, namely that the situation was "dismal" and "approaching starvation, unless the amounts of grain initially promised were redistributed to the population", the answer he got was a congratulation on the well executed food drive, with the comment that "the amount of grain he was able to seize was proof of how much rice was in fact available". And thus literally millions of British subjects continued to starve, while the food confiscated from them literally sat in the cities. So please tell me again how the war-apathetic subjects were fed by braver men risking their lives to ship food to them.
To Orwell's defense, I can only find that the text was written in 1942, but a lot of things that brought things down in 1943 were already in place at the time. Also, at the time of writing, he quite literally works as a propagandist for the British war effort in India, a job which he continues to do until near the end of 1943, throughout the events I described above, and from which he only resigns upon reports that few Indians actually listened to his broadcasts. Did he actually believe in what he was doing? With his personal experience of the British rule in India and opinions expressed elsewhere (and even in this text, to a point), did he believe that India should remain a part of the British empire? And did he truly believe that one of the ways to achieve that was what he was doing, that he would get the future Indian intellectual elite to embrace the British culture and pro-British worldviews by exposing them to contemporary British poetry? Such an opinion would have been in line with the image that the Empire had of itself: a civilizing force, with culture superior to that of the native peoples; a view that provided the rationalization for all the abuses of the Empire, which were considered a small price to pay for the long term benefit of (one day) being elevated from their primitive status to the same heights of enlightenment that the British held. I am rather surprised and somewhat disappointed to find George Orwell taking part in something like that.
I would also like to remark on his words about Gandhi ("As an ex-Indian civil servant, it always makes me shout with laughter to hear, for instance, Gandhi named as an example of the success of non-violence. As long as twenty years ago it was cynically admitted in Anglo-Indian circles that Gandhi was very useful to the British government. ... Despotic governments can stand ‘moral force’ till the cows come home"), that I'm not sure if this was his real opinion, or a British propagandist at work, discrediting an prominent dissident. I can only say that it's clear who has had the last laugh, proving that the opinions on what's possible and what is impossible, what works and what does not and cannot, stated here by Orwell, were wrong.
To be fair to all that you wrote you can be pretty eloquent as well my point though wasn't that I agree with his standpoint just that he is an extremely gifted writer who can get his viewpoint over in an easy to read but also well thought out, from his viewpoint, way.
simply put if your not helping fight the war against fascism then your helping them win he saw it very one sided, do I agree, probably not but do i disagree again probably not I can see the argument from both sides.
Would wonder what he thought looking back at his words years later though did he still think the same.
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