Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," George Orwell

One of the great little pieces written by George Orwell is "In Front of Your Nose," first published March 22, 1946. In this marvelous short essay, Orwell skewers so much political nonsense that it is breath-taking. Written over 70 years ago, his article is still valid for today.
[W]e are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield. 
When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts. There, at least, the ruling groups are not dependent on popular favour and can utter the truth crudely and brutally. Goering could say ‘Guns before butter’, while his democratic opposite numbers had to wrap the same sentiment up in hundreds of hypocritical words. 
Actually, however, the avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences. The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter. Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy. Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds. The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye. 
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one's opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality. If one recognizes this, one cannot, of course, get rid of one's subjective feelings, but one can to some extent insulate them from one's thinking and make predictions cold-bloodedly, by the book of arithmetic. In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one's weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one's political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.
Was there ever a better description of what we see at work in today's "Progressive World"? One, for example, in which we see liars such as Hillary Clinton rewrite her own history right before our eyes and the supine mass media go along.

I am working on something else, but happened to re-read this gem, and thought it worthwhile to mention.


  1. "In Front of Your Nose,"...happened to re-read this gem, and thought it worthwhile to mention." --WLA

    Thank You! It is indeed "worthwhile", and a copy will be headed into my Daughter's Fed Govt. class with her tomorrow. Great Reminder, and eye-opener! Now let's see what her Prof, the self-described libertarian, makes of it ;) On Watch~~~

  2. 4/5/22
    Holy Smoke!
    What a Blast
    from the Future, Dip!
    Nearing 6 years since you posted
    this Orwellian 'Gem'! Smile~~~
    Funny thing, last night told wife
    I might shame some of those 80+
    Welcome Back commenters for not
    being as active as I hoped they
    would be... then thought maybe I
    should throttle back, so as not
    to steal the limelight... I must
    admit, not sure how much I recall
    of the outcome re: the above post,
    but do remember using your posts as
    as teaching tools, for my daughter.
    The Prof. I referenced, was terrific,
    he made a special appeal too, to get
    her into an advanced Fed.Govt. Class
    but her major was Micro and minor in
    BioInformatics, Sooo, that was it...
    Tomorrow, We have our scheduled
    weekly call, and I've put this
    post, and authors, at the top of
    our agenda, displacing her TAX
    RETURN, to the No. 2 slot...
    Btw, Tks for memories, and perhaps
    too, keeping me out of the looney
    bin and/or or the Ol'Sailors Home~~~;)
    Hope all is well.
    G-d Bless You, and
    your fine Family,

    On Watch~~~

    Mind the Tar Pit's

    "Let's Roll"

  3. Hellooo Dip~~~
    Had a delightful Agenda Mtg.
    w/daughter She recalled, the
    Orwell piece you referenced,
    and said that her Fed.GovProf
    was glad that she brought it
    in --but since it was "so near
    the end of semester she never
    learned of his reaction to it"...
    she remembered that "he was a bit
    more liberal than libertarian, but
    that helped him seem impartial with
    the in class debates"... She added
    that "Animal Farm" was still her
    favorite Orwell book, especially
    after having read "1984"", and I'd
    add, after her role of Mrs.Hudson
    in Bradbury's Farenheit 451 that
    she played in our Community Theater~~~

    On Watch~~~
    "Let's Roll"