The Who2 Blog

No Orwell Statue for the BBC

There will be no statue of George Orwell at the headquarters of the BBC. Because he was too far left?

That’s what they’re saying, based on the word of one member of the George Orwell Memorial Trust. Her claim is that the director of the BBC told her flat out that Orwell was too far to the left politically for them to honor him with a statue.

But was George Orwell too far to the left? He was certainly sympathetic to the plight of the working poor, or the just plain poor. Read Down and Out in Paris and London sometime. Of course, that was written in the 1930s, before Orwell worked at the BBC.

George Orwell was at the BBC from 1941 to 1943, during World War II. After broadcasting propaganda about the British role in India, he threw in the towel, leaving the BBC because he didn’t feel like his work was doing any good. Today’s press makes a lot of Orwell’s resignation from the BBC, hinting that he was too much of a rebel for them.

But that ignores almost half the resignation letter — the half in which he expresses his gratitude for the free hand he was given.

It also ignores the fact that by that point in his career, Orwell had soured on the socialist and communist movements of the day. His great works, Animal Farm and 1984, are both artful tirades against the crazy practices that propped up socialist countries and their totalitarian governments. That’s how Orwell ALSO became a hero of the right.

Imagine that — a very clever individual who wanted to empower the poor AND who railed against the tyranny of government. That’s the kind of nuanced view we just can’t tolerate these days. 

So no statue for him!

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