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An Attitude Of Ignorant Disapproval

george orwell politics modern fascism totalitarianism englandIn an essay titled after the intellectual Arthur Koestler, George Orwell notes the odd dissonance between commentary about fascism and totalitarianism in free societies that (thankfully) have no first-hand experience with this sort of tyranny. There are parallels today with critics of modern fascism who cannot speak to the true depths of the evil they are describing and -- far worse -- politically naive relativists and fifth columnists who excuse this evil, refusing to believe the awful truth.

England is lacking, therefore, in what one might call concentration-camp literature. The special world created by secret-police forces, censorship of opinion, torture and frame-up trials is, of course, known about and to some extent disapproved of, but it has made very little emotional impact. One result of this is that there exists in England almost no literature of disillusionment about the Soviet Union. There is the attitude of ignorant disapproval, and there is the attitude of uncritical admiration, but very little in between. Opinion on the Moscow sabotage trials, for instance, was divided, but divided chiefly on the question of whether the accused were guilty. Few people were able to see that, whether justified or not, the trials were an unspeakable horror. And English disapproval of the Nazi outrages has also been an unreal thing, turned on and off like a tap according to political expediency. To understand such things one has to be able to imagine oneself as the victim, and for an Englishman to write Darkness at Noon would be as unlikely an accident as for a slave-trader to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.

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