The View from England
Why I’ve Had Enough of George Orwell

Orwell is a terrible role-model for an age that needs more serious people honestly grappling with complexity.

Published on: November 20, 2017
Ben Judah is author of Fragile Empire and This Is London.
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  • Fat_Man

    Chapter 3.3 of 1984 is the most concise explanation of how modern “progressives” who believe that boys are girls and girls are boys, think:

    O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation — anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.’

    ‘But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.’

    ‘Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.’

    ‘But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny — helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.’

    ‘Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.’

    ‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals — mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’

    ‘Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.’

    ‘But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are a million light-years away. They are out of our reach for ever.’

    ‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’

    Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O’Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

    ‘For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?’

    Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he KNEW, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind — surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.

    ‘I told you, Winston,’ he said, ‘that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression,’ he added in a different tone. ‘The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.’

    The system of newspeak is now mandatory in our colleges as Political Correctness.

    • dunbar

      ‘The system of newspeak is now mandatory in our colleges as Political Correctness.’ As brainlessly tired a cliche as you’ll find anywhere.

      Newspeak is of course too subtle a term for the present residents of the White House. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer, to say nothing of the president himself, are liars. Liars. Like Breitbart, Alex Jones and others far too numerous to mention.

      To outside observers the American Right hysterically lashing out at the dishonesty of others while denying or choosing to be oblivious to the profound mendacity that lies at its very core is just grotesque. Freud had a term for what the Fat Man is indulging in here. He called it projection.

      • Fat_Man

        Less amusing than Goat.

      • Bastian Bux

        >Alex Jones literally talked about the surveillance state for 2 decades, detailing how they listen in thru your TVs and computers and phones
        >Snowden’s and Vault 7’s leaks confirm literally everything he’s said on the subject
        >still a fucking liar because he sounds crazy

        That’s some next-level ostriching you got goin’ on thar, bruh.

        • dunbar

          There are a couple of truths. The US surveillance state is a vicious predator, true, and Alex Jones is a frothing, shrieking imbecile who occasionally, accidentally, amidst his tsunamis of bullshit and lies stumbles across an actual fact. Also true.

  • ScienceABC123

    As far as the author’s complaints about Orwell…

    “Nobody is perfect.” – unknown

    That said…

    “Truth is truth, no matter the source.” – unknown

  • Jeff77450

    Mr. Judah, like a lot of people I’ve only read _1984_ and _Animal Farm_. You’re clearly better informed than I am. That said, it seems to me that you’re engaging in “presentism” to some extent, i.e. viewing historical figures through the lens of present day sensibilities. We are all products of the times we live in. Our worldview is informed by information that is most certainly incomplete and to some extent inaccurate. This trend that began fifty-odd years to place more emphasis on a historical figure’s flaws, rather than the much greater good that they accomplished, is harmful to society. I wish that Leftists could understand that. The Founding Fathers owning slaves; Abraham Lincoln’s, Robert Baden-Powell’s and Winston Churchill’s racist views; Henry Ford’s and George S. Patten Jr.’s anti-Semitism. There is no doubt in my mind that the good that they accomplished far outweighed the bad.

    Surprise surprise, George Orwell was flawed and imperfect. As you pointed out he didn’t foresee a number of harmful trends to include the current insanity of this hierarchy of oppressor to oppressed, where *every* group is both oppressor & oppressed to some extent except straight white Christian males who only oppress. But his general warning about the dangers of authoritarian government and a society not having Enlightenment values serves us to this day.

    • D4x

      Ben Judah is NOT “better informed” – he is here doing to George Orwell what America’s far left tries to do with Robert E. Lee et al: ‘disappear’ them, just like Orwell described in “1984”. On Aug. 12, 2017, the flood of ‘analysis’ on Charlottesville! triggered a word search, which I documented here at TAI. I was surprised that word search led directly to Newspeak. In August, 2017, I had forgotten most of “1984”, read forty years ago.

      Almost fifteen years ago, back in grad school, we studied Orwell’s ‘political’ essays and writings. “Road to Wigan Pier” and “Shooting the Elephant” are brilliant reads.
      “Orwell Essay’s Selected and Introduced by John Carey”, Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf 2002 : one book I can always find.

      My anti-Semite-alert is hardwired from early childhood. In 2012, I still read Vanity Fair. The late Chris Hitchens’ analysis of how Orwell evolved, and wrestled with his own prejudices as the publication of Orwell’s diaries approached led me to study, again, his 1945 essay “Antisemitism in Britain,” which Ben Judah so conveniently does NOT mention here. Full text here, as published in Contemporary Jewish Record, April 1945 (written February 1945):
      “The Importance of Being Orwell” Christopher Hitchens, August 2012

      That essay was Orwell’s penetrating self-analysis writ large. Yes, Orwell expressed anti-Semitic tendencies in his youth. Here is the counter-point to Ben Judah’s dishonest attempt to ‘disappear’ George Orwell by labeling him as ‘deplorable forever’.

      “…But Orwell was nothing if not honest, and Hitchens is right to defend him. He did try to educate himself away from his native prejudices, and even if not entirely successful in defeating them, he was scathingly honest about them. And how many other writers can we say that about? […]” Was Orwell an anti-Semite? In the introduction to a soon-to-be released version of George Orwell’s private diaries, the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens grapples with the author’s ‘marked dislike of Jews.’ Anshel Pfeffer Aug 03, 2012 10:05 AM

      Adding that the most disturbing aspect of the mass hysteria of 2017 is how too many Jewish political writers and pundits, especially TAI’s own Adam Garfinkle, are blind to their own ‘native prejudices’, refuse to re-examine any position. Ben Judah is Adam’s proxy today, because someone has told Adam how the Oct. 18 TAI relaunch, with so many obvious fabricated propaganda pieces, is failing.

      It is such a betrayal to me that I have spent the past year questioning how I can continue to be a Jew in America if it means having to read such treasonous idiots. Now worn out finding the real news, the real story they so desperately want to ‘disappear’.
      “Politics and the English Language” George Orwell, copyright Horizon, April 1946 Full text:

      • Jeff77450

        By better informed I meant that he knew more about GO and his writings than I do.

        • D4x

          Yes, you were clear on that. I wanted to let you know that you know more, when you wrote “you’re engaging in “presentism” to some extent, i.e. viewing historical figures through the lens of present day sensibilities.”

          I was triggered by Ben Judah’s disrespectful assault on Orwell’s “Shooting the Elephant” and “Road to Wigan Pier” (RtWP). “Shooting the Elephant” was in the syllabus for my 20th century British History class in 2004. Our excellent professor was already trained, by Harvard, in the ‘colonialism is root of all evil’ historiography. He certainly believed it was a “metaphor for colonialism in 1936”, as Ben wrote. I did not understand my professor’s ‘brand’ of historiography until I audited his undergrad course on Colonialism, although I had wondered why he focused on Ireland with just a glimpse of Empire in his 19th Century British History class, which I took in 2003.

          RtWP was a primary source for my ‘50% of grade’ paper on Thatcher’s privatization of council (public) housing. My background note:

          Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan Pier. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. 1958.
          “…at their very worst the Corporation houses are better than the slums they replace. The mere possession of a bathroom and a bit of garden would outweigh almost any disadvantage…they are [also] much more expensive to live in.” (68)

          “in a Corporation estate there is an uncomfortable, almost prison-like atmosphere…Houses are desperately needed and are not being built fast enough; but in so far as rehousing is being done, it is being done …in a
          monstrously inhuman manner.” (70-71)

          Orwell’s 1958 picture of the poor, working or not, predates the shift to tower blocks of council flats.
          The state of private market housing available to this significant sector explains the consensus response with public housing under both Labour and Conservative governments between 1945 and 1979.

          • Oriental Imp

            Irrespective of Mr Judah’s assessment of the various merits, or lack thereof, of Orwell as a moral intellectual, it is in fact quite proper we judge right and wrong from our current perspective. So called ‘Presentism’ is both coherent and unavoidable.

            I’m afraid it is a kind of moral relativism to ‘forgive’ or interpret the actions of historical figures by their own lights. The only argument for this kind of vulgar moral relativism – that doing so is right – is an appeal to the deontic definition of ‘right’ in the premises that it seeks to dismiss in the conclusion.

          • D4x

            Selective memory is deadly treachery. Ben Judah abuses ‘Presentism’ by deliberately NOT mentioning/including Orwell’s 1945 essay “Antisemitism in Britain” Full text here, as published in Contemporary Jewish Record, April 1945 (written February 1945):

            Orwell evolved, and wrestled with his own prejudices. That admirable quality is missing in ‘Presentists’, who celebrate moral relativism selectively, with intentional malice.

            The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past
            by Keith Windschuttle, 1994 “A huge success in hardcover, The Killing of History argues that history today is in the clutches
            of literary and social theorists who have little respect for or training in the
            discipline. He believes that they deny the existence of truth and substitute
            radically chic theorizing for real knowledge about the past. The result is
            revolutionary and unprecedented: contemporary historians are increasingly
            obscuring the facts on which truth about the past is built. In The Killing of
            History, Windschuttle offers a devastating expose of these developments. This
            fascinating narrative leads us into a series of case histories that demonstrate
            how radical theory has attempted to replace the learning of traditional history with its own political agenda.”

            “historians might not always manage to avoid the fallacy
            completely, they should at least try to be aware of their biases and write
            history in such a way that they do not create a distorted depiction of the past”
            page 139, “Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought” by David Hackett Fischer, 1970.

            “Oriental imp” can add two more books to his Deontic Burn Pile “Opernplatz. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933. Among those works burned were the writings of beloved nineteenth-century German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who wrote in his 1820–1821 play Almansor the famous admonition, “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen”: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”

          • Orwell doesn’t need us to forgive him. His importance and influence will continue well after we are gone and utterly forgotten.

            And you are wrong about how to read historical texts. Dead wrong. And the sort of freshmen level moral philosophy at the end of your post doesn’t make it any better. (And before you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve been teaching these subjects at the university longer than you’ve been alive.)

          • Oriental Imp

            Then, oh teacher of these subjects since time immemorial, how should we read historical texts?

          • RAS

            Am I the only one here that noticed that the “freshman” backs his argument up with citations whereas the “professor” simply engages in argumentum ad verecundiam? Time to retire Mr. Kaufman.

          • Lol. You’re cute.

          • RAS

            No you are. Gimme a kiss.

  • stevesailer

    Sorry, but what makes Orwell so valuable is that he was the most perceptive critic of the leftist journalistic mind: read the “Newspeak” appendix to “1984” to understand 2017 SJW language-policing.

    • stevesailer

      Orwell was even better on journalists than Waugh in “Scoop.”

    • DiogenesDespairs

      George Orwell: “Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

    • bevaconme

      what’s sjw?

      • Peter from Oz

        Social Justice Warrior

      • Bastian Bux

        Sorry, I mean INGSOC INGSOC INGSOC . . . .

  • stevesailer

    “Not only are Orwell’s diaries full of accusations that the Jews controlled the media;”

    That is the ultimate sin these days, isn’t it?

    A better criticism of Orwell is that his English patriotism made him an anti-Irish bigot. (It’s not a coincidence that the evil O’Brien in “1984” has an Irish name.)

  • FriendlyGoat

    The reason to question Orwell is that we are 33 years past his due date and now know that most of his fictional fantasy was completely overdrawn.

    • quesrty

      Google is happy that you said that.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Google is a case of under-controlled Free Enterprise running ahead of people’s realization of the reasons why we have to be vigilant when we celebrate “just anybody” doing “just anything”. It’s not really so different from our financial regulators once finding themselves behind the curve on the risks of credit default swaps, or drug regulators unable to keep up with new mind-altering chemicals shipped in from anywhere in the world, or inadequately defended systemic risks to the USA from cyber hacking. Something new is coming along all the time and we are unwise to always say “Gee whiz—what progress” without assessing danger.

    • Anthony

      I think you’re on to something (as always). Indeed, “The secret of Orwell’s appeal lies in his rhetoric: everything is simple, everything is right or wrong, and everything – if you only listened to him – can finally be solved.” (Ben Judah)

      • FriendlyGoat

        I would not have set out to be a critic of Orwell, but we may be so afraid of Orwellian “control” that we lose our judgment. What else can we conclude when a war can be successfully waged on everything ever called “politically correct”—–all at once, with everything lumped together IRRESPECTIVE of what might actually be “correct” (or not)?

        • Anthony

          Healthy and constructive critique always benefits (whether initially apparent or not). You certainly have put in both effort and time to make timely and productive contributions – we need fewer morally zealous political writers on all sides and more serious people that are honestly grappling with complexity.

          • Tom

            So why are you on such good terms with FriendlyGoat?

          • Anthony

            FG, from his initial arrival @ TAI has been respectful, civil, engaging, and courteous – even when we have disagreed (and over the years we have not always agreed). More importantly, I value his input and experience. Happy Thanksgiving.

        • saksin

          NOTHING is ever “politically correct” if your politics are democratic. The essence of democratic politics is the realization that there is hardly a political issue today on which decent and honest people cannot disagree, for the simple reason that decent and honest people can have different preferences regarding the kind of society and world in which they want to live. Given the ubiquity of policy disagreements, democratic politics is the commitment to adhere to a decision procedure (typically voting) by which to settle such disagreements without violence, and without stigmatizing those on the losing side of such decisions. On condition that they retain the respect of the winners, they form the “loyal opposition”. Loyal to what? To the decision procedure, a loyalty that entitles them to respect. So called “political correctness” flies in the face of this democratic ethos by proclaiming certain positions to be the only politically correct ones. This arrogates to the policy preferences of a faction the presumption of universality, revealing its totalitarian mode of thought.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “Political correctness” in the recent past has been generally associated with human rights, empathy, kindness, sharing, not intentionally or carelessly damaging each other, not intentionally offending each other, well wishes for others. I do not know why we need a war on it. Happy Thanksgiving is my main argument for today.

          • saksin

            The very notion that there is ONE correct policy (“politically” means that it is about POLICY, and “correct” means that there is a singular acceptable one) not only contradicts the spirit of democracy, but places your list of desiderata, from “human rights” to “well wishes for others”, in an awkward light. Among the most basal of human rights are freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of conscience. Exercising those freedoms in the kind of world in which we actually live may require us to intentionally offend others, depending upon what those others stand for and promote. Indeed, offending others may be morally mandatory in some situations. The apparent innocuousness of your desiderata hides a deeply sinister modus operandi, according to which the apparent benevolence of those desiderata becomes a pretext for preventing me from exercising my basic human rights of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of conscience. Those freedoms were wrested from various orthodoxies by our forebears in a protracted struggle over centuries, and we are now squandering them under the new orthodoxy attempting to establish itself under the banner of so called political correctness.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The problem is that the current backlash against “political correctness” is a blanket one in the present so-called “populist” wave. In this climate you, and many others, are feeling your oats to reject anything not endorsed by your leader, Mr. Trump (the chief derider of “political correctness” by name). This is not (NOT) the freedom of speech and thought which you imagine yourself exercising. It is you waiting for your cue about which way to jump on any subject.

            This is not new. The people of DPRK do it with Kim. The people of Iran do it with the Ayatollah. The Catholics did it and do it with The Vatican. The people of Turkey are now doing it with Erdogan. And, memorably, the people of Germany once did it with Hitler.

            When you describe “political correctness” as though you believe it is ONE issue or ONE correct policy, you are trying to make me believe it is not actually hundreds of separate issues. Sorry, but I don’t buy that. You’re doing the lumping together, not me.

          • saksin

            “feeling your oats”, “your leader, Mr. Trump”, “waiting for your cue”, etc: You know nothing of my politics, and are answering your own projection of who you imagine I am. Typically, I do not answer these kinds of ad hominem attacks, but for your information, I did not vote for Trump, and I have fought so called political correctness ever since I first encountered it at my university in the late 1970s (though it did not fully come into its own until the early 1990s). Moreover, you obviously have not understood what I have written: If it only were so well that so called political correctness pertained to one single issue! But of course it is an ever expanding panoply of issues, taboos, and stances. What I did and do claim is that in effect the votaries of so called political correctness hold that on any one of the innumerable issues with which they are concerned there is one correct stance, opinion, or policy. Hence: “X is not politically correct”. Why not? Because by the lights of the votaries of so called political correctness there is one and only one true and correct position on X. That is the anti-democratic core of political correctness, and you have revealed its true face in the demonization to which you just subjected someone who ventured to disagree with you, in this case me. This is all I will say in reply to you, till you return to respectful, reasoned discourse.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Dude, I tried to be nice to your needling—-on Thanksgiving Day, above, remember? Your endless belaboring tells me who and what you are now “with”, whether you know or not. Pardon me for defending, but I expect to do so for the rest of my life. We, who are not in this deception of “conservatism”, have no choice.

          • patrickirish

            Political Correctness is “one” – it is one state of mind. It is opinion not based on critical thinking (the old fashioned kind), reason, logic or knowledge, rather based on emotion and the zeitgeist whether it is “identity”, “race”, “critical theory” or something else.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s a curious matter that conservatives refer much more frequently to “political correctness” in describing what they DON’T want than us lefties in describing what we DO want. I’ve come to understand that those arguing against it in blanket terms (as you are) either are gay haters or so independently wealthy as to not give a damn about anyone or anything. Nothing else ever explains comprehensive opposition to The Golden Rule as a concept.

          • patrickirish

            Try reading what I wrote. Think. Read it again. Think some more. Then reply.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I read what you wrote. Evaluated thoroughly. You got my answer. You are bullsh*ting me from one of two angles. I don’t know which and don’t much care.

          • patrickirish

            Fair enough!

      • This is just a lot of nonsense. If you’ve ever read his non-dystopian novels — Coming Up For Air, A Clergyman’s Daughter, Burmese Days — you’d know that the opposite is true.

        • Anthony

          Because you call something nonsense does not make it so. Ben Judah’s interpretation may not be to your liking (in this instance) but in context of his essay it makes “sense” – read essay if you haven’t.

          • I explained why. If you’ve actually read his whole corpus, including the essays — which I have — you’d know that his views are far more nuanced than Judah gives him credit for and his most certainly, undeniably, a humanist of the first order. You cannot read The Road to Wigan Pier or Coming Up for Air and not know that. So, Judah is either ignorant or disingenuous. Either way, this hack job of a review is un-befitting of one of the greatest men of English letters of the last century.

          • Anthony

            What point are you attempting to make here? Judah wrote an essay on his view of Eric Blair. I quoted parts of his text to highlight a reply. Neither my quote nor additional commentary prejudges Orwell’s literary authenticity. His work (fiction and non) is quite well know by both literate and informed contributors – perhaps your contention rests with Ben Judah. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

          • My point is pretty clear, from the things I’ve written. Nothing veiled or hinted at.

            Judah is a hack and should be embarrassed by what he has written here. It speaks very poorly of the standards at The American Interest.

            My responses were also perfectly apropos to your specific comment. By the quotation you pull out of Judah’s piece, you indicate your agreement with the view that Orwell was a black-and-white thinker, who thought he had all the answers. This is demonstrably false and recognizable as such to anyone who has even made a tertiary survey of his work. You couldn’t even reasonably come to this sort of conclusion having read nothing but 1984, if you actually understood it, but certainly not, if you’ve read into his corpus beyond that book.

            I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving as well.

          • Anthony

            Your contention is overstated. An opinion has been expressed (By Judah). Give it a rest and thanks, I and family will (currently) enjoy Thanksgiving.

          • An opinion was expressed in a highly regarded, well read journal of opinion. It matters whether such organs publish rubbish or not.

            Best to yours as well.

  • ahajra

    So…which dystopian writer should we read? I believe Aldous Huxley was also anti-semitic. Is there any writer from that time who is pure enough for us to read today?

  • quesrty

    I think that 1984, Brave New World, and the Gulag Archipelago are the three most important books of the 20th century. Because they capture the essence of totalitarianism – the core of what went wrong in that century.

    • saksin

      I’d add Koestler’s “Darkness at noon”, and Milosz’s “The captive mind” for good measure.

    • StudentZ

      I read that Brave New World and 1984 were actually inspired by Yevgeny Zmayatin’s We. Perhaps that book deserves a mention, too, though I haven’t read it myself. There are too many good 20th century books, though, to highlight only three.

  • alexandre1

    As a reader who is both Jewish and English I share the writer’s concern about Orwell’s rather obsessive antisemitism. but I am also alienated by Ben Judah’s inclusion of the crime of being ‘incredibly English’ on the charge sheet against Orwell. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Also, at times, the article the author also seems to imply that Orwell was also an apologist for British colonialism. That is absurd – anyone who has read Orwell’s Burmese Days (and I assume Ben Judah has) will know it is perhaps one of the most vituperatively damning portrayals of the British Empire and the racisim of some of those who served it. Finally, I find the last line of this article incredibly pompous and self-regarding. Let’s leave Orwell on his pedestal until someone who really can do better appears.

    • Jim__L

      “I am also alienated by the inclusion of the crime of being ‘incredibly
      English’ on the charge sheet against Orwell. What the hell is that
      supposed to mean?”

      Maybe it means he judges people by stereotypes of their race or nationality. Or maybe it means that for all his moral posturing, he’s a hypocrite.

      I’m not talking about Orwell, by the way.

  • Psalms13626

    “The reason to question Orwell is that we are 33 years past his due date and now know that most of his fictional fantasy in “1984” was completely overdrawn.” – Comrade FriendlyGoat
    Once again, he serves as the clearest example of what can go wrong when Statists like him take control. What a terrifying individual. Sure, he seems harmless behind a computer screen. But give him power, and FriendlyGoat would not hesitate to let millions die for the good of the State.
    Also, FG and Anthony mutual appreciation society is funny. Although I do occasionally complement DX4 on his incredible research.

  • Discriminating Palate

    The same people who bought up all the copies of 1984 to see what all the fuss was about after Trump won are blind to the fact that the Globalists and their various agitators are the ones who want to ensure we all settle to the level of the lowest common denominator. The Left love themselves some Big Gov’t, thank you very much.

    Sadly for all the alarmists, Orwell got it all wrong. I mean, if you live in NK or maybe China or Venezuela, maybe there are correlations. But nope, it was Huxley who prophesied the means of control in our modern times, and Toffler who foretold the method of our destruction:

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

    -Aldous Huxley

    “People of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice, but from a paralysing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be victims of that peculiarly super-industrial dilemma: overchoice… Future Shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”

    -Alvin Toffler

    • saksin

      The European so called Welfare State went Huxley one better: they did it without state-dispensed Soma (though, come to think of it, state-subsidized Valium is not all that far behind! It is being consumed in massive quantities in countries like Sweden). See my main comment, above, as well.

      • Discriminating Palate

        Everyone I know has been propositioned by their doctors at some time to address some stated concern to try one or another form of anti-depressants. Far more subservise than simple opioids.

        • saksin

          Indeed, I am one of the many propositioned in this way for trivial reasons, and I have always given an emphatic “no, thank you” to the physician.

    • Bastian Bux

      HAHAHA, leftists are hilarious, dude. Did they really think TRUMP was the Orwellian actor in all this? When he wouldn’t kowtow to their policing of his language? “RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM” ain’t newspeak, and insulting one woman because you hate her specifically ain’t misogyny. He’s the only leader in the past 20 years who doesn’t even acknowledge their bullshit labels save in passing to show how absurdly and broadly they’re applied.

  • Tom

    “Why I’ve Had Enough of George Orwell”

    …because he doesn’t flatter me and my prejudices, and because despite being a socialist, he had a heart, a conscience, and a brain, and listened to them.

  • Ace Maguly

    Summary of the article: Orwell didn’t like Jews. I’m a Jew. Therefore, I hate George Orwell.

    • I’m a Jew and I love George Orwell.

      • patrickirish

        That is because you are not an obsessive idiot, presumably.

  • Murray Lang

    Orwell did not just write about totalitarianism with a rare perception and foresight, He actually fought against it. He was shot in the neck in the Spanish Civil war.

    And while the writing can be written of as “simple”. That is what gives his writing such clarity and in that there is a real beauty, In addition he was also one of the few socialists who was able to see the evil of the Soviet Union at a time when too many were willing to forgive its flaws.

    • Jim__L

      “Rare perception and foresight” – Orwell wrote about his contemporary experience. See Homage to Catalonia.

      “The future is already here, it just isn’t very evenly distributed.” — William Gibson

  • jeburke

    Kind of convenient that Orwell is long dead and can’t defend himself. Get back to me when Ben Judah has written anything as worth reading as Orwell’s body of work.

    • Tom

      Forget “written anything as worth reading as Orwell’s body of work.”
      I’ll settle for “has read a history of Communist influence in Britain between 1920 and 1950.” It’s like the author never heard of the Cambridge Five.

    • RAS

      Too bad Hitchens is dead too. His humbling of Ben Judah would have been epic.

      • Bastian Bux

        Dude, Orwell was just describing what was already happening in USSR at the time, Hitchens was a fucking prophet. Look up “Hitchens roundtable” on youtube, watch that shit on Charlie Rose from 1994 and tell me he ain’t been touched by the hand of god.

      • TRVTH

  • seattleoutcast

    For those commenters who think 1984 is past its sell date, I was wondering if you also think Triumph of the Will isn’t worth watching because it is in black and white?

  • It’s always hilarious when a tiny mediocrity like this author tries to snark and play superior to someone so far above him that it just makes the author look like a complete ass.

    Ben Judah should be embarrassed. But of course, that would involve a level of self reflection and brutal honesty that one doesn’t expect from a pre-pubescent mind like his.

  • Pavel Gromnic

    I really do appreciate honest comment on writers, writing and personalities. HOWEVER, the proliferation of attempts to destroy the work of others for no good reason which is currently in bloom is making me not want to read much of it. Britain and America would benefit from reading a little more Orwell. Why they haven’t explains much of what is happening in each country, to their harm.

  • saksin

    A partial corrective to the image of Orwell as a paragon prophet some like to cultivate. However, nothing in Ben Judah’s account of Orwell’s list of communists and sympathizers demonstrates that it was either “paranoid” or “more often than not… absurd”. At the risk of being labeled paranoid, one wonders whether Ben Judah is unaware of the extent to which communist commitment and fellow travelling flourished in the very circles to which Orwell had access, and more generally in intellectual circles in Europe and the US in those days.

    Regarding 1984, Orwell’s diagnosis that totalitarianism has its principal point of support in our fears (Room 101) may be compared to Aldous Huxley’s contrasting diagnosis that it is to be found in our pleasures and indulgences instead. The latter diagnosis would seem to fit better with the addiction of large parts of the European continent to the dehumanizing regime of the welfare state, as well as with some of the post-Orwell developments that Ben Judah notes were missed by Orwell.

  • Arthur Coward

    “ethnic splintering”,”…honestly grappling with complexity.”

    Orwell would have loved these.

    George Balanchine

  • Here’s another question. Who on earth is Ben Judah, and why would anyone be interested in what he’s had enough of?

  • Matt B

    Love him or hate him, the fact that Orwell and 1984 are routinely invoked on any political topic these days shows a poverty of ideas that is nearly… Orwellian.

    As the author points out, not every modern ill can be mapped to a theme from 1984. That is a criticism of our political discourse, so bashing Orwell is really beside the point. What are some alternatives?

  • The cult of St. George O is as unpleasant as any secular beatification. Moral idol worship is hardly admirable. Is this a passable excuse to cut down on reading Orwell? Does it mean we have nothing to learn from his work? The gift of perceiving human error often comes with a soul-deforming vitriol resulting in bigotry and borderline paranoia. The politics of 1984 could be outdated. Its strong, disturbing claims about human nature are still open questions.

    Yes, Winston’s torturer is Irish and the 24-hour clocks are continental, but the cruelty and filth of Ingsoc originated at an English boarding school. (Compare 1984 with Such, Such Were the Joys.) Not bad for a Little Englander. The appendix on Newspeak is as relevant as ever. The idea that a prolonged war between a liberal democracy and a totalitarian state gradually turns the former into a semblance of the latter is hardly an absurdity.

    Yes, most comparisons to the 1930s are being made out of ignorance and mental sloth. But the remedy should never be reading less: by all means read more Huxley, but not at Orwell’s expense.

    • Bastian Bux

      Congrats, you learned how to suck your own dick, just like Judah. Star in porn, bruh.

  • hungery

    You make me sick.

  • Peter Morton

    Apart from the anti-Semitism in ‘Down and Out’ there is also the episode of the savage rape of a young girl, which his literary critics almost never mention. It’s true, of course, that Orwell is retailing this story at second-hand, and there’s no sense that he approves it (he calls the narrator ‘somehow profoundly disgusting’); but he does not overtly condemn it either and I find the complete narrative detachment and the lip-smacking attention to detail discomfiting. At the very least, it’s pretty clear Orwell was trying his hand at a saleable piece of violent pornography. At a completely different level, I was amused, on reading one of the later volumes of his diaries, to find the socialist Orwell frankly admitting that he would cheat on his income tax if he thought he could get away with it.

  • Tommaso Vesentini

    Dear mr Judah, i did not know of Orwell antipathy towards jews and this represents to me a sad stain on his record. Nor do his achievments make this stain less severe. But the opposite is also true: his achievments do not fade becouse of his failings. His was an allegory of a failed hope and totalitarian state to which every one continue to think anf every one still unterstand years later. This is not the mark of simplicity. That’s universality. In an other word: art. Hence the bronze

    PS as for the ‘serious reporting’ it is my humble opinion that Orwell, in Spain, made some seriuos fighting instead. Another thing worth remembering these days: fighting against rising darkness. Sometimes the right choise is rather ‘simple’. Some complexities are not to be ‘grappled’, but rejected by brave men who understand that some far war is their war. (Hence, again, the bronze). My best

  • Boritz

    “more serious people honestly grappling with complexity.”

    Of course the learned, especially on the left, prefer to make a right turn by executing three left turns. Complexity is an absolute requirement in these politics. How else could devout feminists get themselves into enough of a pretzel to defend Bill Clinton? There is absolutely no simple answer, only vewy vewy complicated explanations. Orwell is eloquent in his ‘simplicity’, and he provides scant cover for the nonsense complexity facilitates. George W. Bush when asked to name his guiding political philosophy said ‘common sense’. This was ridiculed because ‘common sense is not a political philosophy’. That may be true but it is political philosophy that is indebted to common sense, not the other way around. Nobody was practicing what would be recognized as modern ‘political philosophy’ 10,000 years ago, but somebody sure was exercising common sense or none of us would be here. Orwell understood this.

    • Bastian Bux

      It’s not mental gymnastics that cause them to defend Slicky Willie Clinty, it’s the fact that they’re completely unprincipled. They don’t have ethics, only strategy. For the modern left, there are no bad tactics, only bad targets. If you’re with them, you’re good. If not, bad. Completely, totally, absolutely unscrupulous on all counts.

  • JohnDBaptist

    It’s bad enough to kick a man when he’s down: but when he’s dead? Really unsporting.

    How about this prophecy from an expert in his field? “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” (Thomas Watson, 1943)

    • Bastian Bux

      “My way’s not very sportsman-like.”
      – Fezzik, from “The Princess Bride”

  • Tom Allalone

    Orwell wasn’t perfect, but he was honest enough to admit his errors and did so on numerous occasions. He also actually fought totalitarianism which one can’t imagine Mr Judah ever doing. This is a pompous self regarding piece of selective quotation and misrepresentation and Mr Judah would have felt perfectly at home in any of the fellow travelling circles of the thirties and forties. However, the squeakings of such an intellectual nonentity will soon be forgotten, while Orwell will continue to be read

  • kentallard

    There is a strain of Millennials that think the world began the day they were born and thus their insights are the final word. Mr. Judah fits the profile. Mr. Orwell was made of flesh, therefore he had flaws. But he was a giant of word and deed, capable of writing some of the English worlds best fiction and nonfiction. Get back to us in 40 or 50 years Mr. Judah, when you’ve had enough life experiences to hold forth on those who came before you – without embarrassing yourself.

  • RAS

    Did this article get you into the inner party Ben?

  • IrishPotatoGun

    Should I just ignore the usury banking system that is damn close to enslaving the entire planet and just lube up my rectum and go back to work?

  • BigAl1825

    Orwell failed to anticipate that multi-national corporations would one day be more powerful than governments. He didn’t realize there would be billionaire media moguls manipulating minds for a global cabal of hyper-wealthy individuals that see no need for political entities except as tools to their power: cheap labor and natural resources there; political and military safety and security here; a favorable tax regime over there.

    But most people today don’t recognize these things exist so it feels hard to fault Orwell for not anticipating this exact form of totalitarianism.

  • Jonathan Dembo

    Is the argument supposed to be that Orwell’s objections to socialism are diminished by his anti-semitism, or is that Orwell’s objections to fascism are diminished by his anti-semitism? Or just one or the other? Are his failed predictions due to his anti-semitism or anti-socialism or anti-fascism, or all of them? Or just one of them? I think it is clear that Orwell pointed his metaphorical guns at the 20th century’s two greatest enemies to civilization: socialism and fascism. Both were anti-Semitic. He was right on both counts. He was in real personal danger. He wrote when democracy and freedom were demoralized and in retreat and under attack by both of these enemies and – when the outcome of the struggle lay in the balance – Orwell defended them. If Stalin or Hitler had won, Orwell’s life would have been forfeit. Maybe Orwell wasn’t right about everything. Maybe he had flaws like everybody I know. One flaw he didn’t have: cowardice.

  • slocklin

    I wonder how many people will remember Ben Judah in 10 years, let alone 68 years after he’s dead.

  • Bastian Bux

    “He predicted in 1941 alone that: the British Empire would be converted into “a socialist federation of states””

    “the destruction of information”
    Russia dun did it! TRUMP RUSSIA 4EVAR!!! I SAW IT ON SNOPES

    “unlimited powers of the state . . . now miles away”
    Okay, you’re just outright trolling now. Brexit will NEVER happen without open revolution, but DO TELL about the REAL dangers facing democracy!

    “He has nothing to say about social fragmentation, financialisation, ethnic splintering, unaccountable corporations, offshore kleptocrats,”
    In case anyone missed my extreme subtlety, corporations push for more mass and unfettered immigration because they know what supply and demand means. A bigger supply of potential employees lowers their demand, and thus their value, so they get paid less. Certain politicians want exactly the same because they A: get kickbacks from the same corporations in return for favorable legislation for the corporations and B: they get a mass of new voters whom will vote for them every single election cycle. Despite all this, the progressive public are somehow convinced that mass immigration is a good thing on all counts, mainly because the electorate has somehow also made the fear of being labelled “RAYSIS” far more terrifying than the fear of all their family members being kidnapped, beaten, raped, and murdered. It’s a pure turd marriage of corruption, ignorance, and stupidty.

    “Orwell was a British McCarthyite before the hour.”
    You’re only making him seem even better with this comparison, comrade. 😉

    “Not only are Orwell’s diaries full of accusations that the Jews controlled the media”
    The people whom control the media ARE largely Jewish. This does not mean all Jews control the media, nor even a substantial minority of them. I damn sure don’t even run any AM station.

    “Orwell first published the year Hitler came to power.”

    “Today, we need fewer morally zealous political writers on all sides”
    He says in his zealous screed against the morality of George Orwell.

    “and more serious people that are honestly grappling with complexity.”
    He says as he denounces the man whom so adequately and perfectly described the USSR and current college Marxism.

  • MattTarango

    I’ve read only two books by Orwell. Animal Farm, and 1984. Both of which have stood the test of time, and always will. Not just because they are prophetic, but because they chillingly map out the totalitarian mind, and its many tools. And while I am baffled by antisemitism, I’ve noticed the accusation is often code for anti-communist, or anti-totalitarianism.

  • Jim__L

    “He has nothing to say about social
    fragmentation, financialisation, ethnic splintering, unaccountable
    corporations, offshore kleptocrats, or echo chambers, to name but a few.”

    This laundry list of special Leftist interests would only be narrow-minded, but it sinks into contemptibility because of its sheer absurdity.

    Social fragmentation? What was Winston’s separation from his family, his ultimate violent separation from Julia, other than the ultimate in social fragmentation? You shall have no social relations except with the state…

    Ethnic splintering? How about alliances divided along racial lines? (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia…”)

    Unaccountable corporations? No, the corporations were as accountable as everyone else, to the ultimate unaccountable — Big Brother.

    Offshore kleptocrats? Why do you need those when you have locals?

    Echo Chambers? Good lord, are you so wrapped up in presentism that you can’t even figure out what newspeak, duckspeak, doublespeak, and the rest were designed to create??

    “Instead, he leaves too many political minds forever chasing,
    Quixote-like, the totalitarian windmill of untrammeled state power. They
    ignore the real anemic state before their eyes, which struggles to keep
    up with corporate algorithms, is unable to fulfil its promises, or tax
    the super-rich.”

    Maybe the government should stop making promises it can’t keep, and Lefties should stop wishing for “untrammeled state power” to fulfill their wishlists.

    Society really was better off when the power to tax (and to jail for tax evasion) was confined to serving essentials like national defense, critical infrastructure, and … (well, that’s about it), and well-meaning idealists were obliged to fund their quixotic dreams by private donation, preferably local.

    I also notice that Orwell’s real-life experiences that served as raw material for 1984 — his masterful “Homage to Catalonia” — is entirely absent from this paper. Shameful.

  • Nate Whilk

    Personally, my current interest in Orwell was sparked a few years ago by running across his essay “Notes on Nationalism”. I loved the section about the “negative nationalism” of his day because it seemed to me that the left hasn’t changed at all since then. My favorite line: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

    And I couldn’t help but think of demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley when I read this line from “The Road to Wigan Pier”: In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

  • Steve Smith

    Oh dear, Ben Judah doesn’t like George Orwell. It would never occur to him to reject the Jewish Bible, replete with Jewish genocidal and revenge fantasies. But, it’s, um, different when it’s a non-Jew, I guess. Orwell doesn’t say all the things that Judah wants to hear, so he’s a bad man and we shouldn’t read him.
    No mention of Spain by Ben and Orwell’s willingness to fight (and suffer severe wounds) there. No mention of “Homage to Catalonia.” No mention of pro-Soviet Victor Gollancz’s refusal to publish “Homage.” No explicit acknowledgement of Orwell’s essay “Antisemitism in Britain.” No mention of Emmanuel Goldstein.
    I bet dear Ben doesn’t much like Solzhenitsyn either, but I bet he doesn’t lose much sleep over the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. All human suffering is equal but some is more equal than others.
    I wonder why TAI thought it was a good idea to publish this whining. Never mind–I know why.

  • Gykell

    There statue of George Orwell was put up in central London outside the BBC quite rightly because we journalists in Britain see him as an ethical and intellectual hero. His great achievement was to anatomise totalitarianism at a time when thousands of useful idiots in the British ruling class were urging appeasement with the result that upwards of 70 80 million people died in World War 2 and Stalin’s subequent decades of terror.

    His other enduring achievement was to nail the misuse of language for political ends with unequalled precision. He illuminates the path for those who seek clarity, decency and honesty in public discourse. It is his ethic which motivates CNN, The New York Times and Washington Post not to be intimidated by the power of the Presidency and to challenge the latest racist demagogue in the White House.

    The other thing he teaches is is by example: he was ill-disposed towards received wisdom and he is the patron saint of independent thought, particularly in the realm of political journalism. This does not – does not- require him to be right about everything. The point is he champions and was prepared to die for the right to think independently. You spectacularly miss the point about 1984 because the book is about the need for human beings to think freely – otherwise they cease to be human. It is not a simple moral fable about Stalinism,

    • gda

      I agree with you, except for the sentence “It is his ethic which motivates CNN, The New York Times and Washington Post not to be intimidated by the power of the Presidency and to challenge the latest racist demagogue in the White House.”

      You would have to be quite firmly inculcated into the progressive religion to propose the CNN, the NYT and the WP are in any way “motivated by Orwell’s ethic”. They are motivated by their all-encompassing hatred of Trump, NOT some amorphous grand Orwellian ethic.

      Ironic that you should wax poetic about Orwell’s nailing the misuse of language for political ends only to misuse language for political ends in the very next sentence.

      • Gykell

        Well, I am not sure. In British terms, Democrats are right wing conservatives and I do not support conservatives. So I insist on self-exonerating on the charge of politically-motivated misuse of language. I would also remind you that Bob Woodward has always been a Republican. There is such a thing as journalism, even in these strange times.

        • gda

          You must be confused – Bob Woodward is a registered Democrat. Also, “Democrats are right wing conservatives”? In exactly which reality, pray tell?

          There IS still such a thing as journalism, but it’s only passingly acquainted with the NYT/WP these days, and as for CNN, the less said the better.

          • Gykell

            Page 37 of “All The President’s Men” Simon and Schuster paperback edition 1974: “Woodward could say that he was a registered Republican; Bernstein could argue a sincere antipathy for the politics of both parties.”

          • Gykell

            I the UK, the left of centre party would not support key Democratic policies. Labour supports the Sate taking over key utilities such as the rail system, electricity and gas. It supports totally State provided healthcare through the NHS. It also firmly opposes military intervention in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. The Democrats support none of these things.

          • gda

            Granted you have a far-left Labour party in the UK, which the Democrats are only just starting to trend towards. It’s interesting that the Tories in the UK, as with the GOP in the US, seem unable to consolidate their positions as a result – they are are indeed the epitome of the Stupid Party(s). In the US, though, it’s been pretty much been a UniParty until Trump came along. Trump is neither a progressive nor a conservative, he simply goes by his gut, which has – so far – served him well.

            Yes, his tweets are certainly cringeworthy at times. But this is the first time EVER that a non-politician businessman has been elected POTUS. He is destroying the PC “culture” – a very good thing. He is indeed (starting to) draining the swamp. And the swamp creatures are being sent berserk as a result – a very good thing. He’s actually kept (some of) his promises – a very good (and highly unusual) thing. He has, as a result of cutting the mind-numblingly and business-constraining regulations (among other things), stimulated GDP growth to 3% in 2017, and probably 4+% in 2018 – a very, very good thing (and it drives leftists absolutely crazy, because he said he would do it, and he did).

            I could go on, but you get the picture. Reducing Trump to a “racist” is simply silly – a Dem tactic to smear a la the latest trendy progressive “identity politics” (which, incidentally, is tearing apart the Democrats – much to my amusement). Only those who see “racists” behind every bush believe that calumny.

          • Gykell

            I think I will just stick to defending Orwell’s honour. And pointing out that on page 37 of “All The President’s Men” Simon and Schuster paperback edition 1974 it says: “Woodward could say that he was a registered Republican; Bernstein could argue a sincere antipathy for the politics of both parties.”

          • gda

            Seems he’s gone Democratic sometime over the last 40 years. Reverses the normal trend, but to be honest registering as either one of these has-been parties seems a ludicrous exercise in this day and age. Dems = Inner Party; GOP = Outer Party. A pox upon both.

          • Gykell

            You sound just like a British Brexiteer in your sweeping dismissal of politics. I was just sticking to my point that a Republican journalist nevertheless brought down a Republican President.

          • gda

            Ah, sorry. Those were the good old days, right?

            Just think, though – Watergate was chicken-feed compared to the cover-ups and twisting of justice in the FBI and DOJ designed to keep Hillary out of the big house (and to put her in the White House).

            The Inspector General who has come forward; the FBI informant about to testify; the use of the “dodgy dossier” for a FISA warrant by the FBI to spy on a rival political candidate – it’s all coming to a head, despite the desperate attempts to ignore it.

            Will it be a Democratic journalist who finally unleashes THIS tsunami of a story? Will pigs fly?

    • life form

      Let me crib Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert: “two thumbs, way up”.

  • Chuck Pro

    I think Orwell would say that complexity has been created where there ought to be none. Thus the serious people grappling with it are boobs. Although he might use a different word.

  • LeseMajeste

    Once again, we get a lopsided view of one Tribe’s endless efforts to suppress free speech by banning any books or blogs or talks given by people who don’t goose step to and cheer Zionism and worship Apartheid Israel.

    I’ve got a hard copy of the excellent “1984” and read it from time to time to remind what jugheads like Judah are really upu to; suppressing free speech and thought that doesn’t conform to Zionism’s Group Think.

  • JohnWhiting

    The author goes to great lengths to tell us how unpleasant he finds Orwell to be but it took me no time to decide whose company I would prefer over dinner.

  • Nate Whilk

    Personally, my current interest in Orwell was sparked a few years ago by running across his essay “Notes on Nationalism”. I loved the section about the “negative nationalism” of his day because it seemed to me that the left hasn’t changed at all since then. My favorite line: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

    And I couldn’t help but think of demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley when I read this line from “The Road to Wigan Pier”: In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

  • blairmulholland

    The writer defends Michael Foot and Paul Robeson against Orwell, which tells us everything we need to know. I’m on Orwell’s side every time in that equation.

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