George Orwell on Political Violence
February 04, 2017, 04:52 PM
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George Orwell wrote in Coming Up for Air:

It’s a queer thing, I thought, to be known as ‘Mr So-and-so, the well-known anti-Fascist’. …

It was a voice that sounded as if it could go on for a fortnight without stopping. It’s a ghastly thing, really, to have a sort of human barrel-organ shooting propaganda at you by the hour. The same thing over and over again. Hate, hate, hate. Let’s all get together and have a good hate. Over and over. It gives you the feeling that something has got inside your skull and is hammering down on your brain. But for a moment, with my eyes shut, I managed to turn the tables on him. I got inside his skull. It was a peculiar sensation. For about a second I was inside him, you might almost say I was him. At any rate, I felt what he was feeling. …

What makes Orwell so powerful is his peculiar combination of a novelist’s ability to put himself inside other people’s heads and feel their emotions along with his ability to think objectively.
What he’s saying is merely that Hitler’s after us and we must all get together and have a good hate. Doesn’t go into details. Leaves it all respectable. But what he’s seeing is something quite different. It’s a picture of himself smashing people’s faces in with a spanner.
A spanner is English for a wrench.
Fascist faces, of course. I know that’s what he was seeing. It was what I saw myself for the second or two that I was inside him. Smash! Right in the middle! The bones cave in like an eggshell and what was a face a minute ago is just a great big blob of strawberry jam. Smash! There goes another! That’s what’s in his mind, waking and sleeping, and the more he thinks of it the more he likes it. And it’s all O.K. because the smashed faces belong to Fascists.
Of course, back then there were real Fascists.

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