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Orwell's rifle on the wall.

keithprosser
Posts: 2,074
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8/29/2016 4:13:00 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
"THAT RIFLE HANGING ON THE WALL OF THE WORKING-CLASS FLAT OR LABOURER'S COTTAGE, IS THE SYMBOL OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS OUR JOB TO SEE THAT IT STAYS THERE."

George Orwell wrote that in an article published in the 8 January 1941 edition of the Evening Standard newspaper. So was Orwell on the side of the NRA? It is quoted by libertarians and the like as if he was.

But I know Orwell's life and work reasonably well and that doesn't ring true. It turns out the quote is genuine and accurate, but nonetheless it is misleading without context.

The guns Orwell was talking about had been issued by the government to the Home Guard, a hastily assembled para-military force of men unsuited to front-line service because of their age or health etc. The Home Guard were to provide opposition to an invasion by Nazi germany, which was (with good reason) considered to be imminent at the time. The people who wanted those guns taken from away from flats and cottages were Stalinist Communists who were agitating (ineffectively, but they were trying) for a revolution.

The communists' fear was that the home guard (manned overwhelmingly by patriotic volunteers) would side with the government and oppose their revolution, and so they wanted the Home Guard to be toothless. Orwell - correctly - saw the enemy of British democracy was Nazi Germany and that the guns of the Home Guard (in which he was involved as a sargeant) were essential for an effective defence against the very real threat of invasion.

The text of the article is not readily avaiable, but the Evening Standard was and is a mainstream, establishment newspaper that would not (indeed could not in warime conditions) publish subversion. Neither the paper - nor Orwell - saw the guns as anything other than a wartime, anti-invasion expedient.

I suspect Orwell would be horrified at the idea that of the population in England should be armed to protect them from their own government. He would have assumed the guns would be returned to the government arsenals at the end of the crisis as a matter of course. Orwells's position was the guns were needed to fight undemocratic nazi germany, after which they were to be given back to the government. That is not natch the position of the NRA, and it is misleading to suggest by quoting Orwell that he shared their view.

More to read here.
http://www.orwelltoday.com...

I care because I admire Orwell and don't like seeing his name used give respectability to a position there is no good reason to suppose he would have supported.
Beisht_Kione
Posts: 233
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9/3/2016 6:31:00 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 4:13:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
"THAT RIFLE HANGING ON THE WALL OF THE WORKING-CLASS FLAT OR LABOURER'S COTTAGE, IS THE SYMBOL OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS OUR JOB TO SEE THAT IT STAYS THERE."

George Orwell wrote that in an article published in the 8 January 1941 edition of the Evening Standard newspaper. So was Orwell on the side of the NRA? It is quoted by libertarians and the like as if he was.

But I know Orwell's life and work reasonably well and that doesn't ring true. It turns out the quote is genuine and accurate, but nonetheless it is misleading without context.

The guns Orwell was talking about had been issued by the government to the Home Guard, a hastily assembled para-military force of men unsuited to front-line service because of their age or health etc. The Home Guard were to provide opposition to an invasion by Nazi germany, which was (with good reason) considered to be imminent at the time. The people who wanted those guns taken from away from flats and cottages were Stalinist Communists who were agitating (ineffectively, but they were trying) for a revolution.

The communists' fear was that the home guard (manned overwhelmingly by patriotic volunteers) would side with the government and oppose their revolution, and so they wanted the Home Guard to be toothless. Orwell - correctly - saw the enemy of British democracy was Nazi Germany and that the guns of the Home Guard (in which he was involved as a sargeant) were essential for an effective defence against the very real threat of invasion.

The text of the article is not readily avaiable, but the Evening Standard was and is a mainstream, establishment newspaper that would not (indeed could not in warime conditions) publish subversion. Neither the paper - nor Orwell - saw the guns as anything other than a wartime, anti-invasion expedient.

I suspect Orwell would be horrified at the idea that of the population in England should be armed to protect them from their own government. He would have assumed the guns would be returned to the government arsenals at the end of the crisis as a matter of course. Orwells's position was the guns were needed to fight undemocratic nazi germany, after which they were to be given back to the government. That is not natch the position of the NRA, and it is misleading to suggest by quoting Orwell that he shared their view.

More to read here.
http://www.orwelltoday.com...

I care because I admire Orwell and don't like seeing his name used give respectability to a position there is no good reason to suppose he would have supported.

When the government no longer respects the vote, that being the will of the people, the people are left with two options. Submit or fight.
Which would you prefer?
keithprosser
Posts: 2,074
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9/3/2016 9:16:56 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 5:30:17 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
So is that a genuine Orwell quote or not?

I wrote as my first sentence "George Orwell wrote that in an article published in the 8 January 1941 edition of the Evening Standard newspaper."

The quote is - as far as I can tell - correctly attributed and verbatim. Unfortunately the text of the entire article itself is not available on line, so its context is uncertain. However Orwell was a peculiar mix of radical and old-fashioned patriot. He had a strong social conscience but he was not a doctrinaire communist and never joined the Communist Party.

He fought fascism as a volunteer during the Spanish civil war but joined the anarchist faction rather than the communists. He would perecived the 'real' enemy to be fascism first with the democratic (albeit imperfect) government of his country a very, very distant second. There is no indication in any of his writings he favoured revolution over reform. For all sorts of reasons he would have opposed the disarming of the home guard as a means of furthering a communist revolution,, not when the real enemy - fascism - was an immindent threat.

When the government no longer respects the vote, that being the will of the people, the people are left with two options. Submit or fight.
Which would you prefer?


it is obvious that if a goverment loses legitimacy it has to be opposed.

Suppose that the laws on gun ownership in the US were amended so that you can own any gun you like, but you are not allowed to use it except in support of an armed insurrection against the government, otherwise it must stay locked away. That should satisfy those who believe opposing tyranny is what private gun ownership is for and it appears consistent with the constitution.

Would you support such an amendment? Perhaps you would, but I think a lot of gun owners use the far-fetched fantasy of an insane despot in the Whitehouse to rationalise the fact they like pretending they are Billy the Kid, Eliot Ness or Rambo.

It there was a despot in the whitehouse, more than half the guns in private hands would probably come out on his side.
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,325
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9/3/2016 9:26:15 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 9/3/2016 9:16:56 AM, keithprosser wrote:
At 8/29/2016 5:30:17 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
So is that a genuine Orwell quote or not?

I wrote as my first sentence "George Orwell wrote that in an article published in the 8 January 1941 edition of the Evening Standard newspaper."

The quote is - as far as I can tell - correctly attributed and verbatim. Unfortunately the text of the entire article itself is not available on line, so its context is uncertain. However Orwell was a peculiar mix of radical and old-fashioned patriot. He had a strong social conscience but he was not a doctrinaire communist and never joined the Communist Party.

He fought fascism as a volunteer during the Spanish civil war but joined the anarchist faction rather than the communists. He would perecived the 'real' enemy to be fascism first with the democratic (albeit imperfect) government of his country a very, very distant second. There is no indication in any of his writings he favoured revolution over reform. For all sorts of reasons he would have opposed the disarming of the home guard as a means of furthering a communist revolution,, not when the real enemy - fascism - was an immindent threat.

When the government no longer respects the vote, that being the will of the people, the people are left with two options. Submit or fight.
Which would you prefer?


it is obvious that if a goverment loses legitimacy it has to be opposed.

Suppose that the laws on gun ownership in the US were amended so that you can own any gun you like, but you are not allowed to use it except in support of an armed insurrection against the government, otherwise it must stay locked away. That should satisfy those who believe opposing tyranny is what private gun ownership is for and it appears consistent with the constitution.

Would you support such an amendment? Perhaps you would, but I think a lot of gun owners use the far-fetched fantasy of an insane despot in the Whitehouse to rationalise the fact they like pretending they are Billy the Kid, Eliot Ness or Rambo.

It there was a despot in the whitehouse, more than half the guns in private hands would probably come out on his side.

The burden should be on the government to spill blood, not simply hold the guns and threaten.
Discipulus_Didicit
Posts: 3,089
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9/8/2016 7:23:35 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
Don't you think it's possible that he was in this quote implying not only that the guns should 'stay on the walls' because of the threat of a Nazi invasion, but also to continue as a deterent to a communist revolution?
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