A Political Economy Approach
New Horizons in Law and Economics series
Edited by Alain Marciano and Jean-Michel Josselin
Chapter 5: George Orwell and his cold wars: truth and politics
Manfred J. Holler* 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is about truth-telling, personal opinions, secrets, and the matter of personal integrity and its protection. What follows is not research about George Orwell as a writer and social activist or a philosophical work on truth. Rather, Orwell is taken as an important paradigmatic case in identifying the problems of telling the truth as a writer and cultural ﬁgure concerned with politics. Moreover, because Orwell was not only a paradigmatic case but also a public ﬁgure, the evaluation of his behaviour has an impact on our social behaviour and our contemporary opinion about what is taken to be good and bad in politics and everyday life. The evaluation of public ﬁgures expresses social values and gives orientation to society and for this reason many legal systems contain, on the one hand, rules designed to protect the reputation of such personalities, but on the other permit the public dissemination of information about them and their private life. In the case of Orwell, the public evaluation of his character is of special importance because truth was one of his major concerns throughout his writing. For many, he was an icon of truth and personal integrity. Yet, more than half a century after his death, there is an ongoing and often rather controversial discussion about Orwell’s work and character. Was he a sincere, but perhaps ruthless, Cold War Warrior or was he corrupted by the ‘circumstances’ of his day? There are not only contradictions in his work,...