Sunday, August 5, 2018

Orwell on totalitarian history

George Orwell, in "The Prevention of Literature" (1946):

From the totalitarian point of view history is something to be created rather than learned. A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.
As I just discovered, I posted this passage in 2008. But it’s worth reposting. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be. Now more than ever, as the saying went.

I reencountered this passage in a new sampler, Orwell on Truth, ed. David Milner (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Orwell posts (Pinboard)

[About would and wouldn’t: Trump rearranged past events in order to claim that he did make a mistake. That’s another way to lie.]

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