Amid All Our Disasters, Why Are the Only Revolutionaries on the Right?

Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic:

Hurricane4 As I was watching the local New York City news coverage of Hurricane Irene before “she” made landfall…

…I found myself feeling a kind of perverse pleasure in telling just about anyone who would listen that the approaching storm was good training for the world we are about to enter due to global warming—rising oceans, flooding of coastal cities and towns, black-outs, food shortages, general pandemonium. As I offered my interpretation of the coming storm, I realized—with far less pleasure—that I had been inspired by one of George Orwell’s “London Letters” to the Partisan Review that he wrote regularly during World War II. I had read them years ago but could still recall Orwell informing his American readers that the many shortages and rationing of foods and goods that Londoners were forced to endure during the war would turn out to be good training for the inevitable hard times ahead when Britain became a socialist country following the war. As I was telling this to my husband, I began to have doubts about what Orwell actually said. Luckily, I had made xeroxes of the London letters that I found most striking and was able to locate them. Sure enough, in one that was published in the November-December 1942 issue of the Partisan Review, I found what I was looking for. Orwell did say that due to rationing,

We are growing gradually used to conditions that would once have seemed intolerable and getting to have less of the consumer mentality which both Socialists and capitalists did their best to inculcate in times of peace. Since the introduction of Socialism is almost certain to mean a drop in the standard of living during the first few years, perhaps this is just as well.

More here.

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