Orwellian? Indeed.

“The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years’ time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.

“This last type is surprisingly common in Socialist parties of every shade; it has perhaps been taken over en bloc from the old Liberal Party. In addition to this there is the horrible—the really disquieting—prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

— George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

More of this quotation appears in today’s Wall Street Journal at page A17 or at WSJ

His prejudices aside, Orwell’s point is that those who espouse socialism or other utopian schemes, rarely spring from the milieu these schemes are supposed to benefit. Rather, those most likely to become true believers are academics and intellectuals (“middle-class” had, and perhaps still has, a somewhat different meaning in Britain from the in the U.S.) who are most pleasured when they are allowed to act out as nags and busybodies. Know anyone like that?

P.S. Orwell’s religious beliefs are pretty much unknown. Many of his writings suggest he was an atheist or agnostic. He was, however, according to his wishes, buried in an Anglican cemetery according to the rites of the Church of England. Perhaps hedging his bets; perhaps not.

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