1984 Quotes, Animal Farm Quotes, and More from the Prophetic Orwell
George Orwell holds an almost mythical place in popular culture as the foreseer of humankind's slow decent into a centrally controlled and ultimately dystopian future, but what did he actually say and mean?
Piece written by Alex Horman and first published on February 3, 2021on Libertas Bella (link to the original article at the end of this page)
1984 quotes pop up on social media relentlessly these days. Why is it that Eric Arthur Blair (better known by his pen name George Orwell), an English novelist, essayist and journalist whose entire life experience was limited to the first half of the 20th century, remains so relevant to this day?
Because Orwell, when confronted by the smudgy veneer of government and politics, saw through it to the brutal nastiness which despotism’s worst elements have in store for mankind.
It is impossible to read Orwell’s great dystopian novel and not draw countless parallels from it to the modern world.
We are asked to practice doublethink whenever we are called upon to surrender our liberties for the benefit of a government which purports to exist to protect them. We see thoughtcrime punished whenever someone is fired, “canceled” or de-platformed for the slightest remark which the modern-day de facto thought police deem offensive. Newspeak increasingly rears its ugly head – even the phrase “women’s clothing” now riles the Silicon Age puritans. And we see the memory hole in action whenever alternative facts become more convenient to the powers that be than actual recorded events.
One must take caution while describing the modern world and its trajectory. It is easy to throw around the word “Orwellian” until you begin sounding like a record player badly in need of a penny taped to its needle.
Orwell wrote other great books, of course. Animal Farm is a touching little allegorical novella about Stalinism. Homage to Catalonia chronicles its author’s own service for the POUM militia of the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War. The Road to Wigan Pier details the living conditions of the British working class to an extent which would make Charles Dickens shudder. We have curated some of our favorite Orwell quotes from all of these.
George Orwell Quotes
“If you set yourself to it, you can live the same life, rich or poor. You can keep on with your books and your ideas.”
– Down and Out in Paris and London
“Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”
– The Ethics of the Detective Story from Raffles to Miss Blandish
“To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself.”
– Looking Back on the Spanish War
“It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours.”
– Homage to Catalonia
“One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”
– Homage to Catalonia
“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
– Politics and the English Language
“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.”
– In Front of Your Nose
“You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself.”
– Burmese Days
“War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. (On the manipulation of language for political ends.) We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”
– Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays
“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
– Review of A Coat of Many Colours: Occasional Essays for Poetry Quarterly, 1945
“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”
– The Road to Wigan Pier
“We are living in a world in which nobody is free, in which hardly anybody is secure, in which it is almost impossible to be honest and to remain alive.”
– The Road to Wigan Pier
“Here you come upon the important fact that every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed.”
– The Road to Wigan Pier
“The point is that 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 an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”
– In Front of Your Nose
“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it”
– Orwell on Truth
“The degree of freedom of the press existing in this country is often over-rated. Technically there is great freedom, but the fact that most of the press is owned by a few people operates in much the same way as State censorship. On the other hand, freedom of speech is real. On a platform, or in certain recognised open air spaces like Hyde Park, you can say almost anything, and, what is perhaps more significant, no one is frightened to utter his true opinions in pubs, on the tops of buses, and so forth.”
– Freedom of the Park
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
“Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
“He fell asleep murmuring ‘Sanity is not statistical,’ with the feeling that this remark contained in it a profound wisdom.”
“Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
“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. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
“Ingsoc. The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side?”
“She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and demonstrations, distributing literature for the junior Anti-Sex League, preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said, it was camouflage. If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.”
“‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’
“‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’”
“You are a difficult case. But don’t give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or later. In the end we shall shoot you.”
1984 Quotes about Control
“Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
“Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
“There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.”
“Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth.”
1984 Quotes about Privacy
“Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.”
“The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
“The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp.”
“In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the country than in London. There were no telescreens, of course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized”
Animal Farm Quotes
“Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than just ribbons?”
“Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.”
“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
“All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything that they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.”
“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.”
“Comrades!’ he cried. ‘You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.”
“Instead – she did not know why – they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind.”
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
We hope you found our collection of favorite George Orwell quotes doubleplusgood – or at least gooder than the majority of prolefeed splattered across the internet. And though the future looks bleak, inasmuch as the present day so closely mimics the dystopia depicted in 1984, do not become demoralized. That is precisely what Big Brother wants.
decentralize.today's examination of an Orwellian future continues this Monday in our regular series, EXPOSED!