The expression of George Orwell’s racial and social attitudes
This thesis is intended to show the importance of racial attitudes in the development and work of George Orwell. He grew up in an environment where race and class roles were firmly and hierarchically established. His early training reinforced these orthodoxies, and Burmese Days as well as other writing shows he understood the unity and necessity of these traditional attitudes in maintaining the status quo. Other experiences, however, sowed the seeds of heterodoxy and support for the underdog. He took to Burma two mutually incompatible forms of training: one urged him to serve the Empire, the other, eventually to oppose it. The crisis of Empire is discussed and how it coincided with an unsought personal crisis of Orwell's own as a result of which the hollow tyranny of imperialism became clear to hint. Burma was an empirical watershed, where experience belied ideology and he heeded the former. Burma was the key which unlocked fact from myth and his changing attitude to Empire is reviewed in this light. The similarities of race and class are discussed; particularly training, form and purpose. It is argued that Orwell abstracted the essence of racial oppression and identified it (and its implications) in other forms, and his two major satires are seen to bear this out. The irrationality of racial (imperial) myths are seen to have much in common with contemporary political behaviour: Socialist ‘doublethink’ about Empire paving the road to totalitarianism, and the in-group/out-group urges of Anglo-India being related to patriotism and rationalism. Antisemitism is included as an example of irrationality which clearly had racial and political significance. Finally an attempt has been made to show that Orwell's racial outlook is part of a coherent world-view, and that the implications are currently relevant.