The Lion and the Unicorn
Aziloth Books, Aug 31, 2021 - 78 pages
As a rallying cry for social revolution, Orwell's essay, The Lion and the Unicorn, merits acclaim equal to his later allegorical novels, Animal Farmand 1984, although it never caught the public's imagination in the quite the same way.
Eric Arthur Blair, known by his pen name as George Orwell, was born into a privileged class but developed socialist leanings and a shrewd writing style that spawned an output of essays, newspaper articles, literary criticism and novels.
Writing in the autumn of 1940 London during the early months of the blitz with bombs falling around him, Orwell makes a case for bottom-up social change in Britain, a transfer of power from the decadent ruling class to the working and middle classes. Many of his ideas in the essay - rejection of fascism, capitalism and Soviet-style communism, all of which, in his view, gave too much power to too few - came from his personal involvement in the Spanish Civil War. The British class system, says Orwell, is an anachronism that is hampering the war effort and in order to defeat Nazism there has to be a fundamental transformation towards democratic socialism to motivate the people of Britain to fight. He espouses a new equitable patriotism, founded on British traditional values and customs, a patriotism that would unite the people and release the hold of the ruling class over them, alongside a careful dismantling of the British Empire. While his prediction that revolution in England was a sine qua non for victory, proved wrong, he was exactly right in recognising the working class's expectation of a better deal after the war.
Orwell's vignettes of Englishness are a delight and his list of policies for a socialist democracy worthy of debate.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - the.ken.petersen - LibraryThing
It seems harsh to criticise George Orwell's optimism when he implies that socialism has become inevitable: he was writing in 1941, I thought so in 1980. Sadly, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and ... Read full review