Originally released for patrons March 14. Part two will be unlocked soon and part three is available now for members at patreon.com/literaryhangover
Hey patrons! Social distancing has upended our scheduled plans for Aphra Behn's "Widow Ranter" with Grace, so Alex and I decided to return to Orwell|er with the first installment of Orwell's "The Lion and The Unicorn," titled "England Your England."
This is an essay written at the height of the WWII blitz bombing of Britain by Orwell from London. The first line, "As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me," begins an immediately controversial argument in response to nationalism prevailing across the world and attempts to reframe patriotism as compatible, and in fact a component of, a socialist revolution. This episode is particulalry relevent in our capitalism-discrediting pandemic. Is there really such a thing as "national character." Is bourgouis democracy the same as totalitarianism? The difficulty of working class international consciousness. The increasingly evident and decadent stupidity of the ruling class. Are they dumb or traitors? American billionaires as ruthless. The place of the intelligentsia in the empire. Orwell predicts the rise, but not fall, of suburbia.
Main source: Alex Hyde-White's narration of "Essays" by Orwell, 2019 via Audible.
Bounds, Philip. 2009. Orwell and Marxism: the political and cultural thinking of George Orwell. London: I.B. Tauris.
Claeys, Gregory. 1985; "The Lion and the Unicorn", Patriotism, and Orwell's Politics. The Review of Politics, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 1985), pp. 186-211