Orwell would loathe today’s left

Orwell would loathe today’s left. By Lisa MacKenzie.

I recently re-read George Orwell’s 1941 essay, The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, and I was taken by his description of the bourgeois, left-leaning intelligentsia of his time. They live in the shallowness of ideas, he writes, severed from the common culture and life experiences of the working class. They spend most of their time bickering with their chief enemy, the equally bourgeois ‘Blimps’ — archetypal red-faced imperialists. Though they despise each other, both the bourgeois intelligentsia and the Blimps are united in their mutual disdain for the working class.



Orwell, perhaps England’s greatest-ever political writer, notes how the bourgeois-left intelligentsia use a lot of words to intellectualise issues without understanding them. He saw that they frequently Blimp-baited without engaging with the real challenges people face. And he saw that they were only prepared to discuss issues raised in a few select publications — mainly the New Statesman and News Chronicle back then — which they also happened to edit, read and write for.

I was struck by how well this description of the bourgeois-left intelligentsia fits today’s middle-class lefties.