John Roskam ~versus~ George Orwell

John Roskam:

John Roskam’s political sensibilities were kindled at age 14, when he read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in one night. Combined with his parents’ small-business, anti-Communist leanings, the book inspired a passion for free market liberalism that continues 30 years later.

“You could not be anything other than in favour of the individual and individual choice after reading “Animal Farm”, says Roskam, 44, the executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). “It highlights the dangers of unrestrained collective action.”

George Orwell:

The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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9 Responses to John Roskam ~versus~ George Orwell

  1. nocte says:

    Ah, right-wing selective reading. It means only what I want it to mean!!111

  2. @ndy says:

    It’s a very common mistake. Many right-wingers claim Orwell was ‘on their side’. So I can understand a 14-year-old John believing this, but a 44-year-old John? Pretty silly stuff.

  3. Derek's Half-Sister, Also Called Derek says:

    I remember somebody tried using the works of Vonnegut to promote nationalism and to a lesser extent National Socialism. This, therefore, surprises me not.

  4. Tenacious dg says:

    Yeah, Nick Griffin of the BNP seemed to use the term ‘Orwellian’ in every second sentence, during his time in the media spotlight a while ago. Andrew Bolt certainly isn’t disinclined towards mentioning George O either.
    This is a mere observation of mine, but I think that there is a considerable number of ardent Free Marketers out there whose free market fundamentalism can be attributed, in large part, to some sort of ideological backlash against Totalitarian Communism, particularly of the Soviet and Maoist strains. Ayn Rands’ works, such as The Anthem, typify this brand of thought. For example, would Ayn Rand have held the ideas she did, had she not grown up in the wake of the Russian Civil War?
    This being said, I think that in this day and age, it’s a pretty silly prejudice to have, and one that does a fair amount of damage to discussions on things such as welfare or inequality.
    Chris Berg, another IPA scribbler, has recently penned a few articles in which he criticizes “liberal intellectuals’ for supposedly having some sort of fetish for socialism. It all just does makes me wonder…

  5. Derek's Half-Sister, Also Called Derek says:

    Do you think they forgot to read the captions?

  6. @ndy says:

    Anti-Communism made for some strange bedfellows and opposition to Communist tyranny in Russia, Eastern Europe, China and elsewhere produced a wide variety of opponents, among them the various followers of Rand. (It’s also worth noting that neo-fascists such as Yockey envisioned a kind of red-brown political alliance, one which also brings to mind the work of dissident communists such as Ruhle who identified Bolshevism as a fascist pre-cursor.)

    To put it another way, if Communism is a form of state worship, and if The Market is the other main organising principle in modern society, then a total rejection of The State — meaning: tyranny — can often mean the enthusiastic — and sometimes equally fanatical — embrace of its polar opposite (‘liberty’).

    With regards ideologues such as Roskam or Berg or even Bolt, I think it’s probably mistaken to take them too seriously. That is, while their ideological productions are intended to and have political effects, its the effects that matter, not the threadbare ideology in which they are cloaked. So y’know, the fact that Roskam misreads Animal Farm or Berg claims to be ignorant of left-wing opposition to Communism (or, for that matter, the general proclivity of Western intellectuals to engage in apologetics for capitalist tyranny) is kinda irrelevant to their political role and social functioning.

    Curiously, today Bolt makes passing reference to Orwell by way of Michael McGirr’s celebration of Dickens’ 200th birthday…

  7. Aussie says:

    I might not be everyone’s best friend for saying this but I will. Although George Orwell is an interesting character and writes well he often misses the nail on some poor bugger’s head. His depth is entwined with his negativity. He had deep realisations that had some truth, but stopped there.

  8. LeftInternationalist says:

    Always loved that Orwell quote. It is interesting to observe the cognitive dissonance that occurs when right-wingers interpret it as anti-socialist, rather than anti-Stalinist. Or conveniently ignore the fact that he was a red-blooded socialist who literally took a bullet in the throat for it. For example, Conservapedia, a reprobate website that recently edited out the distorting ‘liberal’ parts of the bible (I’ve never particularly viewed the Bible as ‘liberal’ or ‘radical’ but then again Gerard Winstanley, the proto-socialist anarchist revolutionary in the English Civil War, interpreted it that way) apparently thinks of Orwell as shedding his socialism for some kind of enlightened conservatism over time, stating that he: “grew increasingly conservative while maintaining his good standing among democratic socialists, which allowed him to continue his columns and while cleverly introducing them to conservative insights”. Also, the theory of relativity is a liberal plot. Just so you know.

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