November 18, 2008

Objectively pro-Coulter

Civilisation rests ultimately on coercion. What holds society together is not the policeman but the good will of common men, and yet that good will is powerless unless the policeman is there to back it up. Any government which refused to use violence in its own defense would cease almost immediately to exist, because it could be overthrown by any body of men, or even any individual, that was less scrupulous. Objectively, whoever is not on the side of the policeman is on the side of the criminal and vice versa. In so far as it hampers the British war effort, British pacifism is on the side of the Nazis, and German pacifism, if it exists, is on the side of Britain and the U.S.S.R. Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi.

-- Orwell, "No, Not One."

... For the time being at least, this must be my nominee for the worst thing Orwell ever wrote (which is why I feel obliged out of fairness to give the final sentence its context). I would like to think that he would recant, or at least qualify, his statement if he could peruse the Google listings. The best I can say is that 1941 was a rather tense time for an Englishman.

The ostensible object of his ire in that review essay, btw, was a dreary pacifist novel by Alex Comfort, whose future as the author of The Joy of Sex would not have surprised Orwell in the least.