I Told You So – George Orwell and 11 Quotes About War and Power

George Orwell hated his fellow intellectuals, whom he accused of a range of sins: a lack of patriotism, resentment of money and physical vigor, concealed sexual frustration, pretension, and dishonesty. He loved “the ordinary person” and the lives led by those “not especially blessed by material goods, people who work in ordinary jobs, who don’t have much of an education, who won’t achieve greatness, and who nevertheless love, care for others, work, have fun, raise children, and have large thoughts about the deepest questions in ways Orwell thought especially admirable.

His novels, “1984” and “Animal Farm” were written out of disdain for his fellow intellectuals, reflecting his shortcomings in life. Here are 10 quotes that are still relevant today, more than a half a century after his works were published.

George Orwell on Mind on Fire Books

“Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

“Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me.”

Thank you for reading, you can find more about the distribution of power and war by reading Racism as a Governing Apparatus or Fidel Castro VS Shakespeare.

“Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.”

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

George Orwell quotes for Mind on Fire Books

“Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

“Liberal: a power worshiper without power.”

“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

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George Orwell quotes for Mind on Fire Books

“War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.”

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”

Thank you for reading, you can find more about the distribution of power and war by reading Racism as a Governing Apparatus or Fidel Castro VS Shakespeare.

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Remembering Ernie Pyle, in Honor of National Columnist Day

The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day

Ernest Taylor Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize—winning American journalist and war correspondent who is best known for his stories about ordinary American soldiers during World War II. Pyle is also notable for the columns he wrote as a roving human-interest reporter from 1935 through 1941 for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate that earned him wide acclaim for his simple accounts of ordinary people across North America. When the United States entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style of his human-interest stories to his wartime reports from the European theater (1942–44) and Pacific theater (1945). Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his newspaper accounts of “dogface” infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. He was killed by enemy fire on Iejima (then known as Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa.

At the time of his death in 1945, Pyle was among the best-known American war correspondents. His syndicated column was published in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers nationwide. President Harry Truman said of Pyle, “No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen.”[1]

(August 3, 1900 – April 18, 1945)

Insurrection and Sedition in Castro and Shakespeare

Insurrection and sedition are nothing new. Shakespeare and Castro wrote about these acts, here’s what you can learn from them.

In one of the chapters of my book, “On Writing Horror: the Art of Fear Appeals,” I compare one real revolution, to a fictitious one. The Cuban revolution led by Castro of the 1950’s is compared to Shakespeare’s revolution in “Henry 6.”

Insurrection and Sedition

In Henry 6 part 2, Jack Cade attempts to overthrow the crown by means of a peasant’s revolt.  According to Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare manual, Jack Cade had two fundamental aspects on the conduct of revolutionary movement which should have secured a victory: popular forces and an active insurrection, though, Cade fails due to a lack of proper relation between the peasants and because of his poor leadership skills. 

In order to better understand why it is that the peasants revolt failed in this fictional revolt, I will compare it to an actual revolt that did succeed, the Cuban revolution of 1953.  This was the “Movimiento revolucionario 26 de Julio”, when Fidel Castro mounted hi first armed challenge against Fulgencio Batista. Although Shakespeare’s revolution never really occurred, it does mimic true revolutionary ideas and movements, and although, there are infinite perspectives to analyze in any revolution, this work will only attempt to illuminate the necessity for a strong leader and a “healthy mob” in order to produce a victory in Shakespeare’s play.  

Having a Strong Leader

Vector illustration of a blooding clenched fist held high in protest.

With the importance of a strong leader in mind, a comparison of Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro with Jack Cade is necessary.  Fidel Castro can be considered a good revolutionary leader because unlike Cade who fled the battle and starved to death, Castro not only fought but he accomplished his usurpation.  We first see a sign of Cade’s selfishness when he grants himself the power to “knight” himself in order to do battle with Sir Humphrey Stafford (H6P2 4.2.118).

Castro on the other hand, was convincing fellow revolutionaries in Cuba to sacrifice buying food and cigarettes so that they could purchase rifles and bullets (Santamaria 24). At the climax of Cade’s rebellion, Cade loses the crowd and runs off, as opposed to Castro who led the first assault against the Batista regime, stood and fought until he was captured (Hansen34). 

After Castro was exiled, he left for Mexico where he would organize another attack on the regime to liberate Cuba; he continues to fight, unlike Cade who just gives up the fight without even attaining enough strength to take care of himself. Cade still had the popular forces on his side because the movement was unsatisfied with the monarchy; its just that he completely gave up! Instead of reminding the peasants of their claims to land and educational reform, le laments:

“Was ever feather so lightly blown to and fro as this multitude?  The name of Henry the Fifth hales them to an hundred mischief’s’ and makes them leave me desolate.  I see them lay their heads together to surprise me. My sword make way for me, for here is no staying”

From Henry 6, by Williams Shakespeare

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Rebellion of Jack Cade
Rebellion of Jack Cade, or an insurrection?

This passage on insurrection and sedition can be conferred directly with Jack Cade, the one whose mind was also swayed like a feather, to and fro.  He uses his sword to make way for his exit when he should have aimed it towards the monarchy. After all, he would have to fight to the death regardless- why not die for what was originally intended to be the cause (4.8.56).  Cade should have mustered his last strengths and “appealed to the revolutionary will of the people as the final authority in questions of government” (Hansen 36). So if cade were in a stronger, who was in the battle for the duration of the fight, and by conferring his advantages with Che Guevarra’s ideologies (popular forces with an active insurrection), Cade should have succeeded. 

The Power of the People: Insurrection and Sedition

Insurrection and sedition are components to moral panics theory.

Along with a leaders’ influence on the revolution, one can also compare supportive persons within each movement as types of reference from which we can gather perspectives from the mobs themselves.  In this instance, a more dynamic view of the different mindsets in each revolution adds color and context to the two different rebellions. For example, Craig Bernthal states in Jack Cade’s Legal Carnival, that Dick the butcher and Smith who are rebels fighting for Cade and are “very sophisticated about Cade’s pretensions [yet] mock him through heavy-sided asides” (260). 

With this statement one can deduce that the Shakespearean rebels were well aware of the problems but they didn’t believe in their leader. Dick the butcher then begins the campaign with: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (4.2.75).  Dick the butcher is instigating a cause that he does not fully understand to the extent that he should before propelling innocent people to their deaths; he acts spontaneously out of certain disdain that he has towards the treatment of the lower class. 

Bernthal is correct in saying that they “articulate legitimate abuses”, but their lack of methods of embodying this ‘cause’ in a logical manner fails, thus, leading their revolt to crumble from within (259). Contrast to Dick the butcher and his ideologies, a supportive character from the Cuban revolt must also be compared for a case to build insurrection and sedition. During the first assault led by Castro against Batista, Haydee Santamaria played an important role in the assault at Moncada, Cuba, and remained an iconic figure just as Dick the butcher’s lines play an integral part to his character. 

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

Haydee Santamaria was a supporter of the Castro movement from the start, in a time when “the bomb and the bullet were ballots”, and when “students were revolutionaries almost by definition” (Santamaria 21).  Santamaria recalls the days when they would cook for ten rebels and 20 would show up, but they were all happy to share because they understood the ‘cause’ and the necessity for teamwork (25). The Cuban rebels that launched the initial assault were well informed and knew exactly where their duty lay; they took care of each other first. This is why having strong, intellectual supportive characters are important; the revolution is only as strong as its weakest link.  By understanding the supportive characters in each movement, we can shed some light on the virtues of the people and their true motives, in order to understand why a healthy mob is crucial for winning.  

How to lead an insurrection and sedition by Che Guevarra

Once the importance of leadership and teamwork are accounted for in an insurrection, the importance of politics comes into question.  Both popular forces fought for a reform that was driven by the un-satisfactions of the people towards their governments.  Geraldo Sousa, author of The Peasants Revolt and the Writing of History in 2 Henry VI, focuses his attention on Shakespeare’s use of literacy and how it conflates with power; and this was what Cade’s rebellion was fighting against – the use of literacy to oppress a people.  Sousa asserts that Shakespeare constitutes “something deeper than a meditation on English society; he closely studies the connection between writing, history and power” (181).

Castro and Guevarra leading the Cuban Revolution/Insurrection and sedition of the 1950’s

Jack Cade is seen as the aggressor of the ink pen and literacy.  The Poor cannot read and write legal records, which places them under the pedestal of the aristocrats and submits the illiterate to their service. Sousa also suggests that “questions of literacy are thus inextricably bound up with questions of power” (179). And it is this issue on illiteracy which leads to land reform. In comparison, we have Castor’s rebellion which was also combating a corrupt government who hoarded all of the power in a feudalistic sense- that is to say that it was limited to the privileged. 

In addition to “the illegal evicting of people from their property, which is precisely the complaint of the first petitioner in act 1” in Shakespeare’s play the Cuban’s were also very, very clear about wanting land reform (Bernthal 262). After Castro was caught and imprisoned, he was allowed a trial where he plead “a passionate defense of the right of a people to revolt against oppression” (Hansen 36).

War is Ugly

Che Guevarra wrote a book on leading an insurrection and sedition

Also what is evident from both revolts is the necessity to kill the opposition in order to attain any type of reform or change;  this is also where the difference between a healthy mob and an unhealthy mob lay. In the Cade rebellion, which Bernthal describes as “carnival: ‘an astonishingly consistent oppression of anarchy by sedition’”, we witness instances where the mob is bloodthirsty and murder under absurd circumstances (259).  In respects to the murdering of Emmanuel by the mob, Bernthal asserts that this was an attack against “records and recorders whose presence permitted and promoted the oppressive collection of revenues” (266).

Cade insurrectionists were fighting against illiteracy, but it was their way of proving their point which would render their actions as carnival or foolish.  The rebels seem to think that the proper way to win land reform is by destroying the records, but the more logical route would be to make education open to the masses. And this issue is addressed in Act 4, scene 7, when Cade sends Lord Say to his death because he supposedly has “corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school” (line 35).

To read more about the art of fear appeals and Horror, check out my book, “On Writing Horror: the Art of Fear Appeals.”

Cade then charges him with sending men to prison because they could not read and then accuses him of riding a well decorated horse, as if to suggest that Cade is running out of “OK’ reasons for murdering Lord Say.  Another example of doing a poor sedition in gathering the support of the people would be Cade’s abuse of power; he states that it would be treason if anybody addresses him as anything less than Lord Mortimer. Then when a soldier immediately walks into the scene and refers to ‘Lord Mortimer’ as Jack Cade, he is then knocked to the ground and killed. This is exactly the same kind of oppressive force that the rebels believe they are fighting against, yet they flow with it during their bloodthirsty frenzy (4.6.7).

This differs drastically from Haydee Santamaria’s biography, she recalls Castro’s order to “[not] shoot for pleasure; don’t kill for pleasure” (Santamaria 39).  Castro on the other hand, was more sympathetic and did not “oblige [anybody] to take part in the attack” (Santamaria 37). Those who refused to fight before the attack were allowed to leave for their homes and Castro would refuse to brand them as traitors, “considering only that they were not, at that time, ready to go along with the plan” (30). Castro did not have people within his own community unjustifiably murdered. This is why Castro succeeded in rallying a second attack on the Batista regime and ultimately, the usurpation; he respected the locals and understood that a healthy mob and their cooperation were necessary to win.

These conclusions in which two rebellions were synchronized into two distinct causes and then embodied under the Guerrilla Warfare manual, illustrate the importance of strong leadership and a healthy mob.  Jack Cade and the peasants’ revolt fail due to a lack of both of these ideals. 

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“The man who conforms by obeying unjust laws and permits anybody to trample the country in which he was born, the man who so mistreats his county, is not an honorable man”

Fidel Castro