Recently released documents show that Britain's counter-intelligence and security service MI5 monitored George Orwell as a potential security threat. Turns out ol' George's politics were difficult to pin down. MI5 did come up with some pretty damning evidence:
"He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours."
Scandal! But in the end, they couldn't place Orwell as a member of the international communist conspiracy. While they felt he certainly had 'advanced communist' and 'undoubtedly strong left-wing' views, he was ultimately an 'unorthodox' commie. Quoth MI5:
"It is evident from his recent writings - The Lion and the Unicorn - and his contribution to Gollancz's symposium The Betrayal Of The Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him."
I find all this very interesting. Orwell once wrote that Charles Dickens was an intellectual "free from all the smelly little orthodoxies now contending for our souls". Turns out Orwell was the same kind of thinker. A real intellectual evaluates everything on its merits, and while guided by certain values, resists the totalizing and reductionist influence of ideology. For Orwell, this allowed him to have socialist views while simultaneously condemning the criminal monstrosity of the Soviet Union...a trap many of his contemporaries couldn't avoid. It also helped him write some kickass books.
So here's to you, George. Way to confuse the mediocre minds.