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But the thing that I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.
Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War in the POUM militia (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification) and wrote a book about it: Homage to Catalonia. He joined POUM out of coincidence and later said he'd rather have joined the anarchist militias if he'd known the contexts of the political conflict going on behind the battle lines. Orwell's beliefs can be described as libertarian socialist, as he partly, but didn't fully subscribe to an anarchist programme which is generally the rejection of the State and parliamentarianism, the utilization of direct action, and the advocacy of co-operative and federal organization.
In the first half of the 1930s Orwell had a negative view of anarchist beliefs, from Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow:
>for he complained that for an ‘ordinary man, a crank meant a Socialist and a Socialist meant a crank’: ‘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.’ While few anarchists would have been all, still fewer would have satisfied none of these despised categories. He told the working-class Jack Common, now co-editor of the Adelphi, in 1936 that so many of the socialist bourgeoisie ‘are the sort of eunuch type with a vegetarian smell who go about spreading sweetness and light and have at the back of their minds a vision of the working class all TT [teetotal], well washed behind the ears, readers of Edward Carpenter or some other pious sodomite and talking with BBC accents’. Orwell’s distaste for homosexuals was an abiding characteristic, with him castigating in private ‘the pansy left’, the ‘fashionable pansies’, Auden and Spender, being singled out for especial contempt. Yet he insisted, as usual unpredictable and unfailingly contradictory, that he had ‘always been very pro-Wilde’.
In 1936 he collected material on the condition of unemployed for the book: The Road to Wigan Pier, which proved revelatory for him, and when he began to believe in and support socialism as the only possible course for any decent person to work towards.
>The fundamentals of Orwell’s socialism were justice, liberty and decency. For him socialism meant ‘justice and common decency’, a decency inherent in the culture of the traditional working-class community. He believed that ‘the only thing for which we can combine is the underlying ideal of Socialism; justice and liberty’ [sic]; and concluded: ‘All that is needed is to hammer two facts home into the public consciousness. One, that the interests of all exploited people are the same; the other, that Socialism is compatible with common decency.’
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