Orwell's Australia: From cold war to culture wars
Scribe, $19.95 pb, 145 pp
George Orwell must be spinning in his grave. Aghast at the use of his name to inspire any political crusade or bandwagon, the ardent advocate against the use of language to spin an alternative reality is forever being used to bolster the armory of political activists around the world.
Should Orwell be allowed to rest? Simon Crean’s speechwriter, the cerebral Dennis Glover, evidently thinks not. One hundred years after Orwell’s birth, Glover has recruited the socialist contrarian, novelist and essayist to his cause. In Orwell’s Australia: From Cold War to Culture Wars, Glover invokes Orwell’s legacy to rail not against the decline of the English language and the use of words to say one thing while meaning another, as is often the case, but rather to lament the state of modern Australia and the lost dream of a ‘social democracy without ideology’. Just like Orwell in the first half of the twentieth century, Glover sees a bleak future characterised by ‘the disappearance, under the pressure of coming wars, of a whole way of life, and its replacement with something shallower, nastier, prefabricated, more ideological and more politically and socially divided’ – in other words, John Howard and conservative hegemony enveloping the Australian way of life.