I was barely 11 the first time I came across the name Orwell, when I grabbed a book from my mother’s collection entitled Animal Farm, mistaking it for a children’s book.
Naturally, I didn’t understand anything the author was trying to say. Not until my college years, did I dare to read Orwell again.
However, even as a literature student, I wasn’t ready to grab what this man was trying to tell the world. Until a close friend of mine—who greatly inspires and influences me—mentioned Orwell again.
This time, I was immersed both in politics and Socrates’ “Know Thyself.” Moreover, being the freethinker that I am, I couldn’t stop reading Orwell’s words over and over again, except that this time, with revolutions happening around the world and people becoming more and more conscious, they made total sense.
Knowing that Orwell was born in 1903 and died in 1950, we can say that these words are more prophecies than quotes. To be completely honest, 70 years after his death, they have never been more relatable than today. Either the man was a genius of some kind, or we haven’t really moved forward, or maybe a bit of both.
Here are 11 revolutionary quotes from Orwell:
“If you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”
“Certain things are said not because they will be heard, but because it is important to speak.”
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
“In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.”
“Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled, they cannot become conscious.”
“Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult…it was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism, which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.”
“There was truth, and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
“People that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims…but accomplices.”
“In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.”
“It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice, such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”
Last but not least, my favorite quote has got to be this one.
“Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever. Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”