First Advisor

Michael F. Reardon

Term of Graduation

Winter 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






George Orwell (1903-1950) -- Political and social views



Physical Description

1 online resource (178 pages)


George Orwell left behind a rich body of political writings. Most scholars until now have confined research on Orwell to one of three areas: his reaction to the British class system; his criticisms of left-wing intellectuals; and the contrasting visions of the future that contended for supremacy in his consciousness. Scholars have overlooked the fact that the very foundation of Orwellian socialism rested on the creation of a political myth - the myth of the northern British working class. The northern British proletariat held specific traits, such as generosity and decency, that were created and shaped by particular socio-historical conditions. Orwell believed that these characteristics would lead the northern proletariat, who were the natural heirs to power in Britain, to revolution during World War II.

By creating the myth, Orwell contradicted his earlier writings in which he claimed that the use of political myths was inherently deceitful.

He had always said that a successful socialist movement would replace ideological jargon, technical language and propaganda with an honest, simple and flexible blueprint of a path to socialism. He gave only vague outlines of an ideal society so that it would naturally evolve according to the specific needs of the moment.

The purpose of the present analysis is to define Orwellian socialism and then to prove that Orwell had, in fact, created a political myth. Chapter I is divided into four sections: Orwell, the Tory Anarchist; Orwell's Reaction to the British Class System; Orwell's Attacks on the Left; and Orwell and the Implementation of Democratic Socialism. Chapter II traces the evolution of these themes in his novels and documentaries. Chapter Ill argues that although Orwell attacked Georges Sorel for his advocacy of the myth of the general strike that would spur the French proletariat to a nationwide strike, Orwell had unknowingly created the myth of the northern British working class.


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