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I love Orwell’s libertarian socialist politics, but I love the fact that he walked the walk. When you read Orwell’s work remember that he got shot through the throat in the Spanish civil war. That he evaded capture by the Stalinist-controlled police when recovering from his wounds whilst his comrades were still fighting in the front line. That he lived ‘down and out’, and worked for a pittance in Parisian kitchens. Orwell sought experiences, so he could accurately describe the people, the situation and the emotions. I admire him like no other author because of that.
I was in that generation of cold war children who studied Orwell’s 1984 at school. England as Airfield 1 was obvious to Orwell in the 1940s and it still seemed apt in the 1980s as I went out with Cruisewatch to blockade US air force bases. The idea of a perpetual war between global forces which justifies repression and the loss of liberties was clear in the 1950’s with Stalin and Joe McCarthy, but can equally be applied to the ‘war on terror’ in our own times. Orwell was good at seeing the truth of things.
Also, 1984 and Animal Farm are such short books. Orwell compressed his big ideas into stories told simply and with real humanity. Few modern writers can replicate that brevity.