No question that Cripp’s speeches etc. have caused a lot of offence, ie. in India. Outside India I doubt whether many people blame the British government for the breakdown. One trouble at the moment is the tactless utterances of Americans who for years have been blahing about “Indian freedom” and British Imperialism, and have suddenly had their eyes opened to the fact that the Indian intelligentsia don’t want independence, ie. responsibility. Nehru is making provocative speeches to the effect that all the English are the same, of whatever political party, and also trying to make trouble between Britain and the USA by alleging that the USA has done all the real fighting. At the same time he reiterates at intervals that he is not pro-Japanese and Congress will defend India to the last. The BBC thereupon picks out these passages from his speeches and broadcasts them without mentioning the anti-British passages, whereat Nehru complains (quite justly) that he has been misrepresented.

[A recent directive tells us that when one of his speeches contains both anti-British and anti-Japanese passages, we had better ignore it altogether. What a mess it all is. But I think on balance the Cripps mission has done good, because without discrediting Cripps in this country (as it so easily might have done) it has clarified the issue. Whatever is said officially, the inference the whole world will draw is that (a) the British ruling class doesn’t intend to abdicate and (b) India doesn’t want independence and therefore won’t get it, whatever the outcome of the war.

Talking to Wintringham [1] about the possible Russian attitude towards the Cripps negotiations (of course, not being in the war against Japan, they can’t have an official attitude) I said it might make things easier if as many as possible of the military instructors etc. who will later have to sent to India were Russians. One possible outcome is that India will ultimately be taken over by the USSR, and though I have never believed that the Russians would behave better in India than ourselves, they might behave differently, owing to the different economic set-up. Wintringham said that even in Spain some of the Russian delegates tended to treat the Spaniards as “natives”, and would no doubt do likewise in India. It’s very hard not to, seeing that in practice the majority of Indians are inferior to Europeans and one can’t help feeling this and, after a little while, acting accordingly.]

American opinion will soon swing back and begin putting all the blame for the Indian situation on the British, as before. It is clear from what American papers one can get hold of that anti-British feeling is in full cry and that all the Isolationists, after a momentary retirement, have re-emerged with the same slogans as before. [Father Coughlin’s paper, [2] however, has just been excluded from the mails.] What always horrifies me about American anti-British sentiment is its appalling ignorance. Ditto presumably with the Anti-American feeling in England.

[1] Thomas Henry (Tom) Wintringham, writer and soldier, had commanded the British Battalion of the International Brigade in the Spanish civil war. He later founded Osterley Park Training Centre for the Home Guard. His books include New Ways of War, Politics of Victory, and People’s War. See War-time Diary, 23. 8. 40, n. 91 and David Fernbach, ‘Tom Wintringham and Socialist Defence Strategy’ History Workshop, 14 (1982), 63-91.

[2] Father Charles E. Coughlin (1891-1979), born and educated in Canada, became a Roman Catholic priest and achieved prominence through use of the radio in the United States in the 1930s. As early as 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice, he argued that the United States was being manipulated by Britain into involvement in a new European war; ‘I raise my voice,’ he said, ‘to keep America out of war.’ Orwell refers to his magazine, Social Justice, in which he expressed near-Fascist views. Its circulation through the mail was forbidden in the United States because it contravened the Espionage Act. It ceased publication in 1942, the year Coughlin was silenced by his ecclesiastical superiors. 

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9 Responses to 18.4.42

  1. J. James says:

    Interesting perspective.

  2. andrew says:

    wasn’t there a post before, for the 18th, having to do with him going to a show and seeing a jewish comedian tell ‘jew jokes’? did i dream that?

  3. Sean Manning says:

    It looks like those interested in Orwell’s views on India and the Empire (other than his famous criticism of Ghandi, and his comments in “The Lion and the Unicorn”) have lots to learn from in this diary. If I recall my dates correctly, the Bengalis should start slipping towards famine a few months from now …

  4. Konifuji says:

    I had the same dream, what is going on?

  5. grrg63 says:

    Yeah, whats up with dissapearing entries O.P.?

  6. The entries here are as published in Penguin edition I have.

  7. andrew says:

    maybe some orwellian diary adjustment? barry must have the “revised” edition!

  8. grumpyoldbob says:

    It wasn’t a dream, I got it in the RSS feed


    orwelldiaries Tue 17 Apr 2012 06:30:28 BST

    Heard a “Jew joke” on the stage at the Players’ theatre last night – a mild one, and told by a Jew, but still slightly anti-Jew in tendency. [1] More Second Front rumours. The date this time is given as October 20th, an unlikely date, being a Tuesday. It seems pretty clear that something is going to happen in West or North-west Africa however.

    [1] Orwell traced the telling of ‘Jew-jokes’ as an example of anti-Semitism.

    comments: 2

    I don’t know what the comments were as I didn’t get chance to read them.

  9. Since the Diary entries follow the ruling dates, day by day, month by month, then one would not expect to see an entry dated October placed among those for April. It did not ‘disappear’ as claimed. Jews making (the best) jokes against themselves is a commonplace of Jewish comedians from the first. Orwell had in my view anti-Semitic feelings and realised this. He tries to understand the causes of anti-Semitism in his writing but afterwards confessed in a letter “that any mention of the Jews gets one into trouble”. In one of his ‘As I Please’ columns for Tribune Orwell re-prints in full a typed anonymous letter he received that vilified Jews, citing it as an instance of blind ignorance. With a typically Orwellian twist, he points out that he was sent the carbon copy. He does not elaborate on why he finds this fact significant.

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