'-------------------------------------------------- Cascoly Books: George Orwell <br>The Road to Wigan Pier

Cascoly Books - George Orwell
The Road to Wigan Pier

Orwell can usually be read & enjoyed on several levels, starting with the beautifully crafted prose itself. The first part of this book shows the appalling bleakness of life in a Welsh mining town; but Orwell then goes on to show why socialism had failed so spectacularly despite the revolutionary sentiments of liberte equalite fraternite that few would seem to reject

Tea party and class warfare

"The distaste for" progress" and machine-civilisation which is so common among sensitive people is only defensible as an attitude of mind. "  


Geological detritus

It was lighted only by a skylight, for on one side of it was the shop and on the other the larder, which opened into some dark subter­ranean place where the tripe was stored. Partly blocking the door of the larder there was a shapeless sofa upon which Mrs. Brooker, our landlady, lay permanently ill, festooned in grimy blankets. She had a big, pale yellow, anxious face. No one knew for certain what was the matter with her; I suspect that her only real trouble was over-eating. In front of the fire there was almost always a line of damp washing, and in the middle of the room was the big kitchen table at which the family and all the lodgers ate. I never saw this table completely uncovered, but I saw its various wrappings at different times. At the bottom there was a layer of old newspapers stained by Worcester Sauce; above that a sheet of sticky white oil­cloth; above that a green serge cloth; above that a coarse linen cloth, never changed and seldom taken off. Generally the crumbs from breakfast were still on the table at supper. I used to get to know individual crumbs by sight and watch their progress up and down the table from day to day.

The shop was a narrow, cold sort of room. On the outside of the window a few white letters, relics of ancient chocolate advertisements, were scattered like stars. Inside there was a slab upon which lay the great white folds of tripe, and the grey flocculent stuff known as "black tripe," and the ghostly translucent feet of pigs, ready boiled. It was the ordinary" tripe and pea" shop, and not much else was stocked except bread, cigarettes and tinned stuff. " Teas" were advertised in the window, but if a customer demanded a cup of tea he was usually put off with excuses



On colonialism:

When you have got this planet of ours perfectly into trim, you start upon the enormous task of reaching and colonising another. But this is merely to push the objective further into the future; the objective itself remains the same. Colonise another planet, and the game of mechanical progress begins anew; for the fool­proof world you have substituted the foolproof solar system-the foolproof universe. In tying yourself to the ideal of mechanical efficiency, you tie yourself to the ideal of softness. But softness is repulsive; and thus all progress is seen to be a frantic struggle towards an objective which you hope and pray will never be reached. Now and again, but not often, you meet some­body who grasps that what is usually called progress also entails what is usually called degeneracy, and who is nevertheless in favour of progress. Hence the fact that in Mr. Shaw's Utopia a statue was erected to Falstaff, as the first man who ever made a speech in favour of cowardice


Why capitalism stifles invention

It is on record that screws have been in use since remote antiquity and yet that it was not till the middle of the nineteenth century that anyone thought of making screws with points on them; for several thousand years they remained flat-ended and holes had to be drilled for them before they could be inserted. In our own epoch such a thing would be unthinkable. For almost every modern Western man has his inventive faculty to some extent developed; the Western man invents machines as naturally as the Polynesian islander swims. Give a Western man a job of work and he immediately begins devising a machine that would do it for him; give him a machine and he thinks of ways of improving it. ... But under our present economic system, whether he constructed them-or rather, whether anyone else had the benefit of them would depend upon whether they were commercially valuable. The Socialists are right, therefore, when they claim that the rate of mechanical progress will be much more rapid once Socialism is established. Given a mechanical civilisation the process of invention and improvement will always continue, but the tendency of capitalism is to slow it down, because under capitalism any invention which does not promise 'fairly immediate profits is neglected; some, indeed, which threaten to reduce profits are suppressed...'


On tasty modern food

...there is the frightful debauchery of taste that has already been effected by a century of mechanisation...take the taste for decent food. In the highly mechanised countries, thanks to tinned food, cold storage, synthetic flavouring matters, etc., the palate is almost a dead organ. As you can see by looking at any greengrocer's shop, what the majority of English people mean by an apple is a lump of highly-coloured cotton wool from America or Australia; they will devour these things, apparently with pleasure, and let the English apples rot under the trees. It is the shiny, standardised, machine-made look of the American apple that appeals to them; the superior taste of the English apple is something they simply do not notice. Or look at the factory-made, foil-wrapped cheeses and" blended" butter in any grocer's; look at the hideous rows of tins which usurp more and more of the space in any food-shop, even a dairy; look at a sixpenny Swiss roll or a twopenny ice-cream; look at the filthy chemical by-product that people will pour down their throats under the name of beer. Wherever you look you will see some slick machine-made article triumphing over the old-fashioned article that still tastes of something other than sawdust. And what applies to food applies also to furniture, houses, clothes, books, amusements and everything else that makes up our environment.


The appeal of Fascism

It was easy to laugh at Fascism when we imagined that it was based on hysterical nationalism, because it seemed obvious that the Fascist states, each regarding itself as the chosen people and patriotic contra mundum, would clash with one another. But nothing of the kind is happening. Fascism is now an international movement... For the vision of the totalitarian state there is being substituted the vision of the totalitarian world. As I pointed out earlier, the advance of machine technique must lead ultimately to some form of collectivism, but that form need not necessarily be equalitarian; that is, it need not be Socialism. Pace the economists, it is quite easy to imagine a world-society, economically collectivist that is, with the profit principle eliminated - but with all political, military and educational power in the hands of a small caste of rulers and their bravos.

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