The Socialist Patriot
George Orwell and War
Peter Stansky


Contents and Abstracts
1 Before the First World War
chapter abstract

Orwell was shaped by being a member as he said himself of the "lower-upper-middle class." Born in 1903, a grandson of a vicar, a son of a civil servant in India, where he was born, he was part of establishment England. At the same time, he became one of its fiercest critics. He began his education just before the First World War when Britain and its Empire were the most powerful in the world.

2 The First World War
chapter abstract

Orwell was educated at his prep school, St. Cyprian's, and then at Eton, the most prominent school in Britain, during the First World War. Although he wasn't a mindless patriot, Britain being at war and his near contemporaries dying in it formed values that influenced him for the rest of his life.

3 The Spanish Civil War
chapter abstract

In the years after Eton Orwell served for five years in the Burmese police which he left to become a writer. He had some limited success. Politically in those years he moved increasingly to the Left both as an anti-imperialist and with his experience of the Depression increasingly inclined to socialism. But it was his crucial experiences as a fighter against Franco in the Spanish Civil War that fully committed him to being a "democratic socialist." In Spain he also witnessed the destructive actions of the Soviet Union making him a dedicated anti-communist. He was both a premature anti-fascist and a premature anti-communist.

4 The Second World War
chapter abstract

The Second World War was the culmination of Orwell's patriotism and his socialism as found in his most important publication in the war years: The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius. In it he argued in powerful prose that his beloved England had to become socialist for its own good but also to win the war. As suggested in the title, the war brilliantly merged his love of his country and his commitment to socialism.

5 The Cold War
chapter abstract

The last crucial war that sadly he hardly experienced because of his early death in January, 1950 was the Cold War, a term he coined. Just as the Second World War was ending he published Animal Farm. Then, a few months before his death Nineteen Eighty-Four, two of the most famous books ever written, still best sellers. They were weapons, in their anti-totalitarianism, in the Cold War, arguing that a socialist society was almost inevitably undone by its creators' love of power. But he was still committed to socialism as the ideal form of government, and a committed patriot with a deep love of his country.