George Orwell and the British State


Generations of children in all parts of the world have been brought up on the anti-communist fairy tale distortions of the history of the Great Socialist October Revolution by that arch-reactionary, George Orwell. In his writings, notably Animal Farm, 1984 and Homage to Catalonia, Orwell gave vent to his unbridled anti-communism. Although his words were of little artistic merit (and this is admitted even by bourgeois literary critics), he was widely published and his books prescribed as compulsory texts in the schools' curricula - for the sole reason that his works fulfilled a most useful political purpose for the big, as well as the petty, bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries and their satellites all over the world.

Orwell, following the pattern already set by that notorious renegade from the cause of the October Revolution, namely, Trotsky, pretended to be a supporter and defender of the founding principles of the revolution, merely protesting at the alleged corruption of its ideal in the Soviet Union by Stalin. Anyone who knows of the actual course of development of the Soviet Revolution - of the miraculous achievements of socialist construction in the USSR, in industry as well as in agriculture and of her cultural achievements, of the might and world historic contribution of the USSR to the defeat of Nazi Germany - could not be misled by Orwell's scurrilous lies. Unfortunately there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who are ignorant about the actual developments in the USSR of those days and who have gained their 'knowledge' from the 'learned' writing of bourgeois hacks such as Orwell. Having read anti-communist trash such as Animal Farm, they feel sufficiently well-equipped to become experts on the former USSR and to pontificate about the degeneration of the ideals of the Russian Revolution from every platform and through every medium provided to them courtesy of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

Writing on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Animal Farm, a certain Stuart Jefferies says:

'Each moment in Soviet history is paralleled by the novel. The revolution can be understood through the expulsion of Farmer Jones by the united animal proletariat. The Russian civil war can be understood through the Battle of the Cowshed, in which the inspired tactics of the pig Snowball (Trotsky) helped to defeat the better-armed humans. [This is yet another falsification of Soviet history by which, contrary to all known facts, Trotsky alone is portrayed as the saviour of the Soviet Republic against the invading hordes of imperialism]. The rise of Stalin can be understood through the rise of the pig Napoleon, protected by his vicious dogs (the KGB) [denigration and denunciation of Stalin, this remarkable man and one of the most important leaders of the international proletariat is an article of faith with the bourgeoisie and its hired coolies].

'Through the novel, moreover, we can understand the steady erosion of revolutionary ideals, the collapse from the dictatorship of the proletariat to dictatorship of a cynical few; how the Soviet Union came to work with capitalists, while all the time protesting that it would bury them.' ['An arable parable,' The Guardian, 9 August 1995].

What attracted the bourgeoisie to this third-rate writer was not his pretended support for the ideals of the October Revolution, but his real driving hatred for the ideals of communism. Had Orwell's characterization of Stalin, and the CPSU that he led, corresponded to the truth, that would have made Stalin the darling of the imperialist bourgeoisie; had there been a steady erosion of revolutionary principles and had the dictatorship really collapsed into the dictatorship of a cynical few, Stalin's Russia would have been warmly embraced to the point of suffocation by imperialism. Precisely because the Russian reality did not accord with Orwellian reactionary fables, as the Soviet Union was busy tearing down her miserable capitalist and feudal past and constructing a bright socialist future for her people, imperialism waged a life and death struggle, ranging from economic blockade to armed intervention, against her.

Orwell was even more reactionary, if such a thing is possible, than Winston Churchill. The latter at least had the sense to wait until the end of the Second World War before publicly resuming his anti-communist crusade. Orwell by comparison could not contain his anti-communism even at the height of the war when the fate of humanity was being decided in the titanic trial of strength between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany in the battle of Stalingrad. He wrote his Animal Farm in 1943. Publisher after publisher rejected the book. Even bourgeois publishers, at least during those days when the dark forces of Nazism hovered ominously threatening to devour mankind, had more regard than Orwell. Faber rejected the book as did Victor Gollancz. The latter's reaction was: 'We couldn't have published it then. Those people [the Soviets]... had just saved our necks at Stalingrad.'

Realising the inevitability of the resumption of the ideological (and not just ideological) battle between capitalism and communism, and recognizing the usefulness of Orwell's tawdry piece of writing in the battle against the emerging victorious forces of communism in the aftermath of the defeat of Hitlerite fascism at the hands of the Red Army, Secker and Warburg agreed to publish Animal Farm, but Fredric Warburg delayed the publication until after the war. Once the war was over and imperialism had begun in earnest its preparations for the Cold War, Orwell's time had arrived. Within 5 years of its publication, 25,000 hardback copies of this book were sold in Britain, whereas a huge 590,000 copies of it were sold in he United States in the four years following its publication there in 1946. As Mr. Jefferies correctly remarks in the article referred to above, although 'many of those who read the book were right-wingers eager for a novel which appeared to show an ex-socialist recanting his beliefs... the book was chiefly aimed at the faithful, - those who believed that the Soviet Union was the way and the truth.'

In other words, Orwell pursued the aim of destroying the proletariat's faith in building a bright socialist future for itself by denigrating and portraying in negative terms the epoch-making achievements of the Soviet proletariat.

In view of its worth as libellous treatise against Stalin, against communism, against the CPSU and the USSR, the bourgeoisie was more than happy to advertise the book, shower praises on Orwell and reward him with much more than a mere 30 pieces of silver, seeing that the outwardly left veneer of his writings was of no consequences in comparison with its fictitious and counter-revolutionary content and its objectively counter-revolutionary role. It was all the easier for the bourgeoisie to adopt this course as it had already traversed this path two decades earlier vis-a-vis Trotsky's left-sounding attacks on the Soviet Union and its leadership. When after his expulsion from the USSR Trotsky launched his venomously anti-Soviet propaganda, he had the gleeful co-operation of the elating imperialist organs and press barons. In their splendid book, The Great Conspiracy, Kahn and Sayers make the following profound observation apropos Trotsky's ultra-left and radical-sounding attacks on Stalin, the CPSU and the USSR and the adoption by the bourgeoisie of this new device of attacking the Russian revolution 'from the left':

'...As far back as 1903, Trotsky had mastered the propaganda device of what Lenin called 'ultra-revolutionary slogans which cost him nothing'.

'Now, on a world scale, Trotsky proceeded to develop the propaganda technique he had originally employed against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. In innumerable ultra-leftist and violently radical-sounding articles, books, pamphlets and speeches, Trotsky began to attack the Soviet regime and call for its violent overthrow - not because it was revolutionary; but because it was as he phrased it, 'counter-revolutionary' and 'reactionary'.

'Overnight, many of the older anti-Bolshevik crusaders abandoned their former pro-Czarist and openly counter-revolutionary propaganda line, and adopted the new, streamlined Trotskyite device of attacking the Russian Revolution 'from the left.' In the following years it became an accepted thing for a Lord Rothermere or a William Randolph Hearst to accuse Josef Stalin of 'betraying the Revolution'...'

Notwithstanding his 'left' veneer, every class-conscious proletarian all over the world has regarded Orwell as an anti-communist diehard and an agent, paid or otherwise, of the imperialist bourgeoisie. As was to be expected, the Trotskyist 'left', taking, as ever, its cue from the imperialist bourgeoisie, praised Orwell to the skies, it ignored Orwell's anti-communism with the assertion that Orwell was only an anti-Stalinist and not an anti-communist.

And now the bourgeoisie embarrasses these poor little counter-revolutionaries by revealing that after all Orwell was a policy spy - a fine anti-communist indeed!

Documents released by the Public Record Office on Wednesday 10 July 1996 reveal that Orwell offered to provide a secret Foreign Office Propaganda Unit linked to the intelligence services with the names of writers and journalists he regarded as 'crypto-communist' and 'fellow travellers' who could not be trusted. Orwell made this offer in 1949, shortly before his death, to the covert anti-communist propaganda unit set up in 1948 by the Attlee government - that darling of the Trotskyite, revisionist and labour 'left' - allegedly in response to the 'developing communist threat to the whole fabric of Western civilization [i.e. imperialism].' The reader will remember that the paper released by the Public Record Office in the Summer of 1995 revealed that this Unit, called the Information Research Department (IRD), used writers, labour leaders and politicians to disseminate misinformation about the former USSR, the East European People's Democracies and against the Communist Parties of the West, notably those of Britain, France and Italy. Well-known literary figures such as the philosopher Bertrand Russell, the poet Stephen Spender, and Arthur Koestler (another darling of the Trotskyite fraternity) were enlisted by the IRD to produce anti-communist propaganda material during the cold war. The highly-placed Labour politicians used by the IRD included Attlee, Christopher Mayhew, Denis Healey and Vic Feather. Staffed by 300 officials, the IRD channelled most of its misinformation through ministerial statements, the ever-so-'objective' BBC, the press and British diplomatic missions abroad. The IRD, according to the documents released, singled out articles from the Tribune, the 'left wing' anti-Soviet weekly, to back up its covert anti-communist campaign. The IRD successfully, although not surprisingly, conscripted the BBC into the MI 6's anti-communist crusade, giving the BBC detailed advice about propaganda to the Soviet Union itself. In a memorandum of Major General Sir Ian Jacob, the then director of the BBC Overseas Service, one IRD official warned: 'Phrases like 'the Kremlin' in a hostile context should never be used. The Kremlin is an evocative symbol to most Russians,' adding, as if wanting to leave no room for doubt as to the counter-revolutionary credentials of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Bukharin, that 'Russian revolutionary anniversaries should be made the occasion for references to Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin and other 'close friends' of Lenin'!!

It was to this nasty imperialist anti-communist unit, the IRD, that the 'socialist' Mr. Orwell, the darling of counter-revolutionary Trotskyites, made his offer to provide it with names of writers and journalists who could not be trusted because of their communist sympathies as well as the names of the anti-communist writers who could be trusted to produce anti-communist propaganda. According to the documents just released, in March 1949, an IRD official, Celia Kirwan, visited Orwell in a Sanatorium in Cranham, Gloucestershire, where he was suffering from tuberculosis. After visiting Orwell, she (Kirwan) told her colleagues: 'I discussed some aspects of our work with him in great confidence. He was delighted to learn of them, and expressed his whole-hearted and enthusiastic approval of our aims.' Do you -hear all this, gentlemen Trotskyists! Being too ill to write himself, he provided Kirwan with the names of potential contributors. At the beginning of April, shortly after he had been visited by her, Orwell wrote to Kirwan offering to provide her with 'a list of journalists and writers who in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted'. He went on to state that the notebook containing these names was at his London home and insisted that the list was to be treated as 'strictly confidential' for it would be defamatory to call someone a 'fellow traveller.' From the papers released this list is missing, but a card placed next to Orwell's letter to Kirwan says that a document has been withheld by the Foreign Office.

The papers released further reveal that the IRD promoted the foreign language publication of Orwell's anti-communist allegory, Animal Farm. An official at the British embassy in Cairo noted approvingly: 'The idea is particularly good for Arabic in view of the fact that both pigs and dogs are unclean animals to Muslims.'

The IRD was keen to promote the publication of Animal Farm in the Arabic language to counter the growing revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle of the Arab masses. In particular, the unit was afraid of communism spreading to the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, notably among the oil workers of Dhaharan, the scene of the bombing of an American military base in May this year. Realising that anti-communist propaganda is much more effective when it comes from sources which sound radical. which claim ostensibly to support the aims for which communism stands, that it is much more effective from the lips of a Trotsky or an Orwell than from those of a Lord Rothermere or a Rupert Murdoch, the IRD was especially keen to use 'left' sounding anti-communist publications. It therefore arranged the distribution of the 'left'-wing Labour weekly, Tribune, to British missions abroad. IRD officials noted with satisfaction that the Tribune 'combines the resolute exposure of communism and its methods with the consistent championship of those objectives which left-wing sympathizers normally support,' adding, 'many articles in it can be effectively turned to this department's purposes.' The documents also reveal that the IRD was deeply involved with the Trades Union Congress (TUC), played an active part in splitting the international trade union movement in the late 1940s and lobbied against trade unions supporting the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) now renamed Liberty. In a note, a senior IRD official warned in 1949 that the NCCL was 'heavily communist-penetrated and is in fact being used for little if nothing more than attacking our colonial administration and policies at every opportunity.'

The IRD achieved this 'persuasion' through the TUC, where its chief contact was none other than Vic Feather who was later to become its General Secretary.

Thus we get official confirmation of what has been known to every communist and class conscious worker for decades, namely, an active partnership between the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, social democracy and the labour lieutenants of capitalism (representing the interests of a privileged stratum of the working class, viz., the aristocracy of labour), for the sole purpose of fighting against communism. Nor could it be otherwise, for the position, the privileges, the very being and existence, of the above classes and strata of the population depends on the continued existence of imperialist plunder and robbery. Orwell most definitely belonged to this reactionary, if significant, minority, who fought desperately then, and is fighting even more desperately now, for the preservation of the filthy and bloody system of exploitation, which consigns the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the globe to utter destitution and indescribable squalor, while bringing fabulous wealth to the privileged minority. Orwell fought, with all the passion at his disposal, against the birth of a new society, against communism, which alone promises, and which alone, as the construction of socialism in the USSR irrefutably proved, can provide a bright future for humanity, free from the torments of hunger, free from the anxiety and insecurity of unemployment, and which alone can provide the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the whole of society.

Writing in the Guardian of 11 July, that is, just one day after the release of the papers by the Public Record Office, which revealed Orwell to be a police spy, Richard Norton-Taylor and Seumas Milne (the last named being the writer of the much-acclaimed book, The Enemy Within) say:

'The revelation is likely to shock many of Orwell's admirers, for whom he is an 20th Century radical icon.'

In fact these admirers, to wit, the Trotskyists, have been so shocked and embarrassed that, with the sole exception of the shameless and unrepentant counter-revolutionary Mr. Paul Foot, we have not heard a murmur from these quarters, who were only recently and so noisily promoting Ken Loach's reactionary fable Land and Freedom, based on Orwell's counter-revolutionary fiction, Homage to Catalonia, on the Spanish Civil War. The latest revelations are nothing short of another nail in the coffin of Trotskyism. The bourgeoisie, which had no misgivings either about Orwell's literary merits or his radicalism, meanwhile have had the satisfaction of using Orwell's writings as a part of its armoury in the fight against communism. The Moor has served his purpose, the Moor can go. The counter-revolutionary Orwell, with his veneer of radicalism has served imperialism well. His time has gone; he is no longer needed. The bourgeoisie can, therefore, afford to tell us the truth about him, and, into the bargain, embarrass the counter-revolutionary Trotskyite dupes.

After the latest revelations, Celia Goodman (then Celia Kirwan), now aged 79 and living in Cambridge, spoke publicly for the first time about her connection with Orwell and how he willingly supplied her with the information while he was on his death bed. Not realising that there is no socialism other than Marxism, with disarming candour she said: 'He [Orwell] wasn't betraying socialism. It was communism. People will get them muddled up.' [Daily Telegraph, Saturday, July 13th, 1996. 'Orwell's debutante friend tells of role in writer's 'betrayal list'', Caroline Davies].

Mrs. Goodman was born Celia Mary Paget in Suffolk. She and her identical twin Mamaine 'were the most photographed debutantes in London. She was widely admired as one of the most beautiful women in the London literary set.' (ibid).

Recalling her first meeting with Orwell, says Mrs. Goodman:

'I first met George at Christmas 1945 when we were both invited to stay with my sister and her husband, Arthur Koestler, at their home in Wales' (ibid).

Koestler, like Orwell, was also a state informer enlisted by the IRD. A Hungarian Jew by birth, he had been a keen Zionist in his youth, then briefly flirted with communism before finally settling down to a life of ardent anti-communism. Like Orwell, he too achieved fame and wealth by writing anti-communist fiction such as Darkness at Noon, supposedly an expose of Stalin's alleged tyranny.

Celia for her part had left-wing pretensions, 'although she preferred to describe herself as a social democrat and had no truck with communism, which she abhorred.' (ibid).

Thus it was the driving anti-communism of the Koestlers, Celia Kirwan and George Orwell, which united them and brought them closer to each other. And it was against the background of this anti-communism that Orwell willingly agreed to become a state informer and write down the names of anti-communist and communist writers, the former to be used for producing anti-communist propaganda for the IRD, and the latter not to be trusted, watched carefully and hounded out of all influential journalist positions. Interviewed after the latest revelations, Michael Sheldour, one of Orwell's biographers, correctly remarked:

'This was one man, a dying man, sharing his own sense of who would be supporting the enemy [i.e. communism] and sharing that with a dear friend whose work he not only agreed with, but with whom personally he had a great sympathy.' (ibid).

That says it all. Over to you, gentlemen Trotskyites.

Below follows the text of George Orwell's letter to Celia Kirwan.

'I did suggest DARCY GILL, (Manchester Guardian) didn't I? There is also a man called CHOLLERTON (expert on the Moscow Trials) who cld be contacted through the Observer.

Cranham, 6.4.49.

'Dear Celia,

'I haven't written earlier because I have really been rather poorly, and I can't use the typewriter even now, so I hope you will be able to cope with my handwriting.

'I couldn't think of any more names to add to your possible list of writers except FRANZ BORKENAU (the Observer would know his address) whose name I think I gave you, and GLEB STRUVE (he's at Pasadena in California at present), the Russian translator and critic. Of course, there are hordes of Americans, whose names can be found in the (New York) New Leader, the Jewish monthly paper 'Commentary', and the Partisan Review. I could also, if it is of any value, give you a list of journalists and writers who in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists. But for that I shall have to send for a notebook which I have at home, and if l do give you such a list it is strictly confidential...

'Just one idea occurred to me for propaganda not abroad but in this country. A friend of mine in Stockholm tells me that as the Swedes didn't make films of their own one sees a lot of German and Russian films, which of course would not normally reach this country, are unbelievably scurrilous anti-British propaganda. He referred especially to a historical film about the Crimean war. As the Swedes can get hold of these films I suppose we can; might it not be a good idea to have showings of some of them in this country...

'I read the enclosed article with interest, but it seems to me anti-religious rather than anti-semitic. For what my opinion is worth, I don't think anti-anti- semitism is a strong card to play in anti-Russian propaganda. The USSR must in practice be somewhat anti-semitic, as it is opposed both to Zionism within its own borders and on the other hand to the liberalism and internationalism of non-Zionist Jews, but a polyglot state of that kind can never be officially anti-semitic, in the Nazi manner, just as the British Empire cannot. If you try to tie up Communism with anti-semitism, it is always possible in reply to point to people like Kaganovich or Anna Pauker, also to the large number of Jews in the Communist parties everywhere. I also think it is bad policy to try to curry favour with your enemies. The Zionist Jews everywhere hate us and regard Britain as the enemy, more even than Germany. Of course, this is based on misunderstanding, but as long as it is so I do not think we do ourselves any good by denouncing anti-semitism in other nations.

'I am sorry I can't write a better letter, but I really have felt so lousy the last few days. Perhaps a bit later I'll get some ideas.

'With love, George'.

From: 'Lalkar', London, September-October 1996.

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