Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair

English Author and Journalist, known for books "Animal Farm", and "Nineteen Eighty Four"

"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like cuttlefish squirting out ink."

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

"Big Brother is watching you."

"Man is the only creature that consumes without producing."

"Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise."

"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."

"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

"Power-worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible."

"The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it."

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

"Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. "

"By “nationalism” I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled “good” or “bad.” But secondly… I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism… By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality. "

"All art is propaganda… On the other hand, not all propaganda is art. "

"History consists of a series of swindles, in which the masses are first lured into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new masters. "

"If all the records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”… All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it; in Newspeak, “doublethink.” "

"History is written by the winners. "

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. "

"If human nature never changes, why is it that we not only don’t practice cannibalism any more, but don’t even want to? "

"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. "

"Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. "

"On the whole, men want to be good. But not too good. And not quite all the time. "

"Sanity was statistical; it was merely a question of learning to think as they thought. "

"Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind."

"Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. "

"The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought. In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it… Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. "

"The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions. "

"What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated."

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue... and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for a long time, until sooner or later these false beliefs bump up against reality - often on a battlefield."

"Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness. "

"Happiness can exist only in acceptance. "

"Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship."

"Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious. "

"We have become too civilized to grasp the obvious. For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself. War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil. Those who take the sword perish by the sword, and those who don't take the sword perish by smelly diseases."

"Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception."

"Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it."

"Friend of fatherless! Fountain of happiness! Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on Fire when I gaze at thy Calm and commanding eye. Like the sun in the sky, Comrade Napoleon! Thou are the giver of All thy creatures love, Full belly twice a day, clean straw to roll upon; Every beast great or small, Sleeps at peace in his stall, Thou watchest over all, Comrade Napoleon! Had I a sucking-pig, Ere he had grown as big Even as a pint bottle or a a rolling-pin He should have learned to be Faithful and true to thee, Yes, his first squeak should be Comrade Napoleon! "

"Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland, Beasts of every land and clime, Hearken to my joyful tidings Of the golden future time. Soon or late the day is coming, Tyrant Man shall be o'erthrown, And the fruitful fields of England Shall be trod by beasts alone. Rings shall vanish from our noses, And the harness from our back, Bit and spur shall rust forever, Cruel whips shall no more crack. Riches more than mind can picture, Wheat and barley, oats and hay, Clover, beans, and mangel-wurzels, Shall be ours upon that day. Bright will shine the fields of England, Purer shall its water be, Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes On the day that sets us free. For that day we all must labour, Though we die before it break; Cows and horses, geese and turkeys, All must toils for freedom's sake. Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland, Beasts of every land and clime, Hearken well and spread my tidings Of the golden future time. "

"For if in careless summer days In groves of Ashtaroth we whored, Repentant now, when winds blow cold, We kneel before our rightful lord; The lord of all, the money-god, Who rules us blood and hand and brain, Who gives the roof that stops the wind, And, giving, takes away again; Who spies with jealous, watchful care, Our thoughts, our dreams, our secret ways, Who picks our words and cuts our clothes, And maps the pattern of our days; Who chills our anger, curbs our hope, And buys our lives and pays with toys, Who claims as tribute broken faith, Accepted insults, muted joys; Who binds with chains the poet’s wit, The navvy’s strength, the soldier’s pride, And lays the sleek, estranging shield Between the lover and his bride."

"2 + 2 = 5"

"A dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion."

"A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. 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. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer."

"A family with the wrong members in control; that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase."

"A man receiving charity always hates his benefactor- it is a fixed characteristic of human nature"

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."

"A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion...Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners."

"A liberal is a power worshipper without the power."

"A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats."

"A lunatic is just a minority of one."

"A generation of the unteachable is hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses."