By Patrick Reilly
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Extra resources for George Orwell: The Age’s Adversary
When sex or socialism becomes a beautiful cheat, Orwell prefers the revolting truth: sex can be sordid, socialism a swindle, and the risks of their becoming so are far greater when their devotees will not pay reality's dues. Muggeridge and Miller pay their dues, whereas the liberals and the optimists are defaulters, descendants of Swift's Epicurean wise man, preferring happiness to truth, sunny surface to sordid depth, sweet illusion to harsh reality. While supporting happiness as a programme, Orwell condemns liberalism for underestimating difficulties.
It may be, as George Eliot insists, that men should love each other the more after the loving God is proved a fiction, but do they? Orwell prefers to alert us to the damage sustained by the moral life when belief in eternity crumbled: 'that notion (life everlasting) has disappeared, or is disappearing, and the consequences have not really been faced' (m, 126). 26 True, most of his apprehensions are related to the historical derivation of morality from immortality, to the fact that most people in Europe had, until the late nineteenth century, taken for granted an inseparable link between the two.
Worse still, why has its monstrous parody, identified by him as a type of diabolism called power worship, proved so irresistibly, frighteningly seductive to modern men? At the root ofhis torment is his chilling discovery of a new plague of pandemic magnitude in the strange vulnerability of twentieth-century man to this temptation, almost as though certain spiritual antibodies have The Honest Man 41 weakened and died. Far from being immune, socialist man is apparently as susceptible as anyone else - indeed, Orwell's peculiar dread is that socialist man may somehow be even more at risk than his more traditionalist fellows.
George Orwell: The Age’s Adversary by Patrick Reilly