What [Orwell] knew … was that there was a filthy secret at the heart of power, and that secret was in a sense a pornographic secret – that some people don’t even need [an] excuse to wield power – they won’t even say we’re doing it for your own good or to civilize your colony, or to save you from communism, or to save you from fascism or to liberate you from capitalism… We’re in power because we like it. We’re in power because we enjoy punishing people. We’re in power because we enjoy owning people. We enjoy telling them what they can do. We enjoy telling them when we feel like having sex with them and when we don’t. We do this for its own sake. The pornography element of power is a very important thing to understand… It’s an exercise of sheer cruelty, and I think it was a tremendous advantage to Orwell as a writer to have understood this from the start…

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2 Responses to “Hitchens on Orwell”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    I’m pretty sure that Thucydides was on to this long before Orwell.

    There’s also frequently quite a difference between “you can’t do this,” and “you must do this.”

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: True. I think Hitchens admires Orwell’s thought on the modern forms this takes.

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