George Orwell
in English radicalism in the twentieth century
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George Orwell was the quintessential English radical. He wrote two of the best and most famous political books of the twentieth century: Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. But he was also an essayist and journalist of real distinction. His concerns were with the moral values underlying democratic socialism, rather than political theory or party politics. He became increasingly convinced that totalitarian societies, and their ideologies as well as their political practice, represented an existential threat to Western civilisation. He was thus not only a committed opponent of fascism and Nazism but a fierce critic of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. He was essentially a democratic socialist, with a romantic belief in the innate decency of the common people, as exemplified in his portrayal of ‘the proles’ in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell had a profound impact upon English political culture and, seventy years after his premature death, remains a major influence.

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