I'm going to attempt to write a (work)week long series of posts analyzing a chapter from a book I'm reading about George Orwell, and its importance in contemporary society. You might be wondering what George Orwell has to do with music. It's quite a lot actually.
First some context. The book is simply called George Orwell written by John Atkins. Published in 1954, it's a literary and biographical study of Orwell, and like Orwell's work, it's quite prophetic and I believe very very important. The chapter is called "The Assault on Liberty". The posts will feature key quotes from the chapter, my thoughts about them, and at the end of the week I'll explain what it all has to do with music, and what it might all mean for society at large. So let's dive in.
"[Orwell] realized the crux of modern politics is liberty. The old English doctrine that liberty was more important than equality was challenged by the Marxists. Orwell noticed, however, that the equality established by a totalitarian regime did not last very long, and the people realized too late that they had traded their liberty and received nothing in return. Therefore, liberty must be retained at all costs, and the fight for equality should take place on an entirely different ground."
"Orwell's contribution to modern political thought was the reintroduction of the despised value which used to be called Truth. The moderns said truth was variable and relative, and even spoke of 'proletarian truth'. Orwell said that was rubbish. A thing was either true or not true and any attempt to evade this self-evident proposition was dishonest."
Although Orwell called himself a socialist, he possessed and valued intellectual honesty in a way that virtually no modern-day left-wing intellectuals do. Orwell clearly recognized the vast importance of liberty in a society, and the danger of eliminating objective truth from it. I would submit, and I think Orwell might have agreed, that undermining objective truth is the first necessary step towards getting rid of liberty. By eliminating the idea of objective truth, which exists outside of human control, those in power can establish themselves as the truth-makers, and thus, a supreme power. The Marxists wrote the books on destroying objective truth, and liberty, and Orwell was not fond of the Marxists. Objective truth is less popular a philosophy today than it was when these passages were written.
Stay tuned to find out how this relates to music.