On Socialism and Journalism

Issue section: 
(277)

I read John Newsinger's review of the recent biographies of Orwell (July/August SR) with a smile, as it seemed to bear out my contention that 'Orwell' is primarily used today as a political weapon to bash opponents rather than as the basis for a discussion of socialism.

While the claim that I have launched 'the traditional Stalinist attack on Orwell, but with the Stalinism left out' will amuse colleagues and family who weren't aware of my sympathies for the long-lost Soviet Union, it does little for debate.

My contention, with which Newsinger chooses not to engage, is that Orwell's 'socialism' was based on a superficial appeal to 'common sense' rather than a developed programme of economic, political and social theory. The pity is that Orwell, from The Road to Wigan Pier to his death, chose to attack other socialists who were pursuing their own theories and programmes.

This doesn't make socialists 'right' and Orwell 'wrong'. It merely highlights, as Newsinger inadvertently does, that diatribe does not substitute for discussion.

Scott Lucas
Birmingham