SEMINAR: Hayek’s _The Road to Serfdom_ (post #4 – Orwell)

Next time we’re going to discuss this:

George Orwell wrote a review of Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom in  1944 the same year Orwell  “encapsulate[d] the thesis at the heart of his novel”.  It’s clear that Orwell was greatly influenced by chapter 11 of Hayek’s book, “The End of Truth”.  From the appendix to 1984 — “The Principles of Newspeak”:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide  a  medium
of  expression  for  the world-view and mental habits proper to
the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of  thought
impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted
once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought –
that  is,  a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc –
should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought  is
dependent  on  words.  Its  vocabulary was so constructed as to
give exact and often very subtle expression  to  every  meaning
that  a  Party  member  could  properly  wish to express, while
excluding all  other  meanings  and  also  the  possibility  of
arriving  at  them by indirect methods. This was done partly by
the  invention  of  new  words,  but  chiefly  by   eliminating
undesirable  words  and  by stripping such words as remained of
unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible  of  all  secondary
meanings   whatever.   To  give  a  single  example.  The  word
free still existed in Newspeak, but  it  could  only  be
used  in  such  statements  as  ‘This dog is free from lice’ or
‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be  used  in  its
old sense of ‘ politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since
political  and  intellectual  freedom no longer existed even as
concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart
from the suppression of definitely heretical  words,  reduction
of  vocabulary  was  regarded  as an end in itself, and no word
that could be dispensed with was allowed to  survive.  Newspeak
was  designed not to extend but to diminish the range of
thought, and this purpose was indirectly  assisted  by  cutting
the choice of words down to a minimum.

Orwell, George (1944), “Grounds for Dismay”, review of The Road to Serfdom ( F.A. Hayek) and Mirror of the Past (K. Zilliacus), The Observer, Sunday, April 9, 1944. Cf. “Review,” in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, eds., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, III, As I Please 1943- 1945 (New York, 1968), p. 119.

We’ll go through some Hayek, 1944 and compare it to Orwell, 1949 in the next post.

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