George Orwell’s work is seen by many (including myself) to be the most influential writing of the 20th century. His ambition to make ‘political writing into an art’ is clearly shown in the hidden political narrative in his novels.
An Orwell quote I particularly like is “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.” I noticed this comment particularly resonated with me earlier this year, after the murder of Sarah Everard, when social media became an active place for women to share their experiences, and for others to show support. I can remember so clearly the feeling of heaviness and disillusionment with the world around me in that following week; I felt completely hopeless, with no means of actually implementing the global change I wanted to see.
I felt incredibly disappointed to realise that many of my male friends were not posting or re-posting anything about it, despite the many excellent resources on how to be better allies to women, when to me it felt like my whole world had been turned upside down, and I was finally seeing things for what they truly were. I asked some of them about it, and their responses were along the lines of ‘I didn’t feel it was my place’ ‘I didn’t want to appear performative’- this is where George Orwell came in. The line ‘In our age, there is no such thing as keeping out of politics’, seems so poignant given what has happened in the past few years- people are so keen to claim the ‘I’m just not political’ defence, over human issues, not political issues. Not being racist, sexist or homophobic is not having ‘different political opinions’- it is a basic human expectation.