The title is Romanian. Let's work it.
- Farmec(ul) is straightforward enough : (the) charm.i
- Putin is also straightforward : little. Okay, but little which way ? Little as in "little used" or little as in "a little beer" ? We'll have to figure it out in context.
- Fanat is hard.
- al burgheziei is deceitful. It appears easy, "of burgeoisie"ii, but only because you arbitrarily and for no reason imagine you know what "burgeoisie" means. Which is fine and dandy, after all, you know what's it like to be a slave in Rome as well as you know what's it like to be a space traveller, who am I to meddle with your television-immediate understanding of all sorts of fictions, and a general inclination to replace the things that are with things that were [badly] imagined by Mr. Q. W. Jobsworth, esquire.
So then, call it "The Slighly Faded Charm of Burgeoisie" and be done with it, right ? Right. Except... it's not the same, now is it ? Which is exactly the point, of course.
Moving on, hark Orwell :
I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, 'History stopped in 1936', at which he nodded in immediate understanding. We were both thinking of totalitarianism in general, but more particularly of the Spanish civil war. Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various 'party lines'. Yet in a way, horrible as all this was, it was unimportant. It concerned secondary issues–namely, the struggle for power between the Comintern and the Spanish left-wing parties, and the efforts of the Russian Government to prevent revolution in Spain. But the broad picture of the war which the Spanish Government presented to the world was not untruthful. The main issues were what it said they were. But as for the Fascists and their backers, how could they come even as near to the truth as that? How could they possibly mention their real aims? Their version of the war was pure fantasy, and in the circumstances it could not have been otherwise.
The only propaganda line open to the Nazis and Fascists was to represent themselves as Christian patriots saving Spain from a Russian dictatorship. This involved pretending that life in Government Spain was just one long massacre (VIDE the CATHOLIC HERALD or the DAILY MAIL–but these were child's play compared with the Continental Fascist press), and it involved immensely exaggerating the scale of Russian intervention. Out of the huge pyramid of lies which the Catholic and reactionary press all over the world built up, let me take just one point–the presence in Spain of a Russian army. Devout Franco partisans all believed in this; estimates of its strength went as high as half a million. Now, there was no Russian army in Spain. There may have been a handful of airmen and other technicians, a few hundred at the most, but an army there was not. Some thousands of foreigners who fought in Spain, not to mention millions of Spaniards, were witnesses of this. Well, their testimony made no impression at all upon the Franco propagandists, not one of whom had set foot in Government Spain. Simultaneously these people refused utterly to admit the fact of German or Italian intervention at the same time as the Germany and Italian press were openly boasting about the exploits of their' legionaries'. I have chosen to mention only one point, but in fact the whole of Fascist propaganda about the war was on this level.
This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. After all, the chances are that those lies, or at any rate similar lies, will pass into history. How will the history of the Spanish war be written? If Franco remains in power his nominees will write the history books, and (to stick to my chosen point) that Russian army which never existed will become historical fact, and schoolchildren will learn about it generations hence. But suppose Fascism is finally defeated and some kind of democratic government restored in Spain in the fairly near future; even then, how is the history of the war to be written? What kind of records will Franco have left behind him? Suppose even that the records kept on the Government side are recoverable–even so, how is a true history of the war to be written? For, as I have pointed out already, the Government, also dealt extensively in lies. From the anti-Fascist angle one could write a broadly truthful history of the war, but it would be a partisan history, unreliable on every minor point. Yet, after all, some kind of history will be written, and after those who actually remember the war are dead, it will be universally accepted. So for all practical purposes the lie will have become truth.
I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history COULD be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously coloured what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that 'facts' existed and were more or less discoverable. And in practice there was always a considerable body of fact which would have been agreed to by almost everyone.
This most abject socialist, for the most abject of reasons - his own surrender to stupidity as a narcissistic defense over his own inadequacy confesses nevertheles...
To what doth he confess ? Who is that "everyone" that agreed in the past ?
Cut aside all the convenient bulshit in which he wraps, layer upon layer, his confession. We don't have his mental problems, we don't need to gingerly insulate error from fact. "Objective truth", as if. What exactly is "objective" about the objectivity of classical Roman historians (who are, I suppose, the model for his notions) ? That some people just like them will come to power in the future, and cover their pious frauds, numerous as they were deep. Had some substantially different people composed the future elites, the history of the Roman invasion of Gallia, with its attendant atrocities and horrors would not have been "broadly and generally correct as written by J. C.". When in fact the local elite managed to overpower the foreign elite, or vice-versa, the "objective truth" always took a most perceptible bend.
Orwell is essentially saying that all his firmly declared and deeply held beliefs are not the whole picture. There's a little more that's needed. A little externality he strangely always forgets to count when doing the balance books. A thing so insignificant as to be rarely mentioned, like any skeleton in a closet. But here it is : "everything I've ever said and claimed to believe is true, provided I'm safely held in my mother's arms. As a small, inept child devoid of actual agency, in the safety of her bosom, all is well."
That's his idea : as long as nothing happens, masked away under the "as long as there's a possibility of objective truth", which necessarily and absolutely means a continuity of elites in a hierarchical world, then bla bla blaiii socialism, revolution, group salvation, great progress, Holy Utopia and so on and so forth.
Just as long as you know, there's mom's warm bosom holding him up, so he doesn't fall and squish on the pavement like any other infantile maggot.
As Shaw once said, "Nature beats Comedy squarely out of the field".———
- -ul rather than -a because charm in Romanian is a masculine noun. A fermeca however, to charm, is a feminine endeavour. [↩]
- Al marks the genitive. [↩]
- Here's a selection of bla bla :
It would be difficult to point anywhere in his books to a passage suggesting that the economic system is wrong AS A SYSTEM. Nowhere, for instance, does he make any attack on private enterprise or private property. Even in a book like OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, which turns on the power of corpses to interfere with living people by means of idiotic wills, it does not occur to him to suggest that individuals ought not to have this irresponsible power.
The central problem–how to prevent power from being abused–remains unsolved. Dickens, who had not the vision to see that private property is an obstructive nuisance, had the vision to see that. 'If men would behave decently the world would be decent' is not such a platitude as it sounds.
British capitalism does not work, because it is a competitive system in which private profit is and must be the main objective.
Of course one can draw this inference for oneself, and one can draw it again from the remarks about Bounderby's will at the end of HARD TIMES, and indeed from the whole of Dickens's work one can infer the evil of LAISSEZ-FAIRE capitalism; but Dickens makes no such inference himself.
It was obvious that LAISSEZ-FAIRE capitalism was finished and that there had got to be some kind of reconstruction; in the world of 1935 it was hardly possible to remain politically indifferent.
On and on it goes, Orwell knows no greater ill than individual, independent people secure in their property rights and free to do as they please. [↩]