None of this, though, should be allowed to obscure the fact that religion lies at the heart of the view that Orwell took of the world and the uses to which religion’s absence might be put. For he realised – and the realisation struck him far earlier than most political commentators either of Right or Left – that the decline in mass religious belief and personal immortality was the single most important crisis of the mid 20th century. Not only had the flight from God created a vast reservoir of displaced religious sensibility looking for a home; simultaneously it had become a key ingredient of the atmosphere in which totalitarian societies took root and flourished. Take away the prospect of an afterlife governed by divine judgment, runs the subtext of many of Orwell’s later essays, and you leave the field clear for tyrants and autocrats (“all the smelly little orthodoxies that are now contending for our souls”) to behave as they choose.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
… The other Saint George: George Orwell's nuanced and ambivalent views's on Religion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)