27.4.42

[Much speculation about the meaning of Hitler’s speech yesterday. In general it gives an impression of pessimism. Beaverbrook’s invasion speech is variously interpreted, at its face value, as a pep talk for the Americans, as something to persuade the Russians that we are not leaving them in the lurch, and as the beginning of an attack on Churchill (who may be forced into opposing offensive action). Nowadays, whatever is said or done, one looks instantly for hidden motives and assumes that words mean anything except what they appear to mean.]

From the Italian radio, describing life in London:

“Five shillings were given for one egg yesterday, and one pound sterling for a kilogram of potatoes. Rice has disappeared, even from the Black Market, and peas have become the prerogative of millionaires. There is no sugar on the market, although small quantities are still to be found at prohibitive prices”.

One would say that this is stupid propaganda, because if such conditions really existed England would stop fighting in a few weeks, and when this fails to happen the listener is bound to see that he has been deceived. But in fact there is no such reaction. You can go on and on telling lies, and the most palpable lies at that, and even if they are not actually believed, there is no strong revulsion either.

We are all drowning in filth. When I talk to anyone or read the writings of anyone who has any axe to grind, I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Everyone’s thought is forensic, everyone is simply putting a “case” with deliberate suppression of his opponent’s point of view, and, what is more, with complete insensitiveness to any sufferings except those of himself and his friends. The Indian nationalist is sunken in self-pity and hatred of Britain and utterly indifferent to the miseries of China, the English pacifist works himself up into frenzies about the concentration camps in the Isle of Man and forgets about those in Germany, etc. etc. One notices this in the case of people one disagrees with, such as Fascists or pacifists but in fact everyone is the same, at least everyone is utterly heartless towards people who are outside the immediate range of his own interests. What is most striking of all is the way sympathy can be turned on and off like a tap according to political expediency. [All the pinks, or most of them, who flung themselves to and fro in their rage about Nazi atrocities before the war, forgot all about these atrocities and obviously lost their sympathy with the Jews etc. as soon as the war began to bore them. Ditto with people who hated Russia like poison up to June 22 1941 and then suddenly forgot about the purges, the G.P.U. etc. the moment Russia came into the war. I am not thinking of lying for political ends, but of actual changes in subjective feeling.] But is there no one who has both firm opinions and a balanced outlook? Actually there are plenty, but they are all powerless. All power is in the hands of paranoiacs.

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8 Responses to 27.4.42

  1. Pingback: 1984 Starts Here | Ragged Clown

  2. Ragged Clown says:

    I wonder if this entry was the beginning of 1984?

  3. Sean Manning says:

    In this context, who are “pinks”? I would guess “sympathizers with Communism” but think “gays” or “moderate socialists” might also make sense.

  4. Rob says:

    Glad to see some egg discussion has returned.

  5. Were truer words ever spoken? As apposite today as 70 years ago.

  6. T. Marshal-Nichols says:

    Five shillings were given for one egg yesterday

    For a wild, optimistic, and all too brief, moment I thought we were going back to the glory days of egg counts. Back to those, now seemingly innocent, pre-war GO diaries of vegetable patches and the selling of spare eggs. Imagine the disappointment, the terrible disillusion, of discovering it was all just a comment on wastrel propaganda.

  7. andrew says:

    it is disorienting, given our hindsight with its encapsulation of the historical inevitability of what was happening in these days, to see that on the ground level, in the eyes of a commoner trying to watch it all unfold, everything was so confusing and uncertain. he’s so confused, and so frustrated at how confused everyone else seems to be…

  8. Pingback: George Orwell – still prescient after all these years … « … but I digress

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