George Orwell or Eric Arthur Blair was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and a political critic. He was born in Motihari, Bengal, India, in 1903, to an upper-middle-class family without money, as he would describe it.
He made a journey among tramps and spent time living amongst the poor and homeless in London. His reason? He wanted to see if the English poor were treated in their country in the same way as the Burmese were in theirs.
Orwell’s life came to a point where no one wanted to publish his novels. During that time, he lived in severe poverty and became a dishwasher, private tutor and teacher in cheap private schools to feed himself.
What he always wanted was to make political writing into art and he did just that. His works speak of his political convictions and portray such topics as poverty in Britain, socialist intellectuals who supported Stalin, and the Spanish Civil War, among others.
Although he uses simple paragraphs, he was successful in nailing together the truth.
What is George Orwell best known for?
George Orwell’s legacy is that the term Orwellian has come to describe a situation, idea, or societal condition identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. Though it is ironic in itself because Orwell fought constantly against such deceit.
The former is a political fable set in a farmyard but based on Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution. This prose made Orwell’s name and ensured he was financially comfortable for the first time in his life.
On the other hand, the latter is filled with deep meanings and uses many doublespeak phrases – such as ‘Big Brother is watching you’, ‘newspeak’ and ‘doublethink’.
Orwell also tackled issues such as benevolent dictators, the right of police to gun down citizens, the journalists’ safety, and the idea that employers deserve more influence than workers.
Here are 56 George Orwell quotes which show his strong opinion:
George Orwell quotes about leadership and power
‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.’
‘Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.’
‘There is something wrong with a regime that requires a pyramid of corpses every few years.’
‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.’
‘Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’
‘Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution, one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.’
‘Threats to freedom of speech, writing, and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect, and unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.’
‘By preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except the steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.’
‘A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.’
‘Looking at the whole world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery.’
‘We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.’
‘The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.’
‘It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it.’
‘The existing social order is a swindle and its cherished beliefs mostly delusions.’
‘Political language — and with variations, this is true of all political parties, from conservatives to anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.’
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‘It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence.’
‘People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.’
‘A world in which it is wrong to murder an individual civilian and right to drop a thousand tons of high explosive on a residential area sometimes make me wonder whether this earth of ours is not a loony bin made use of by some other planet.’
‘Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life; and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave. Surely only fools or self-deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate, can face that thought without flinching.’
‘Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a ‘good’ man is squeezing the trigger… have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.’
‘I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.’
‘Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. This is an illusion.’
‘The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits ‘atrocities’ but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future.’
‘The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later, a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on the battlefield.’
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‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’
George Orwell quotes about freedom
‘He is a slave with a semblance of liberty which is worse than the most cruel slavery.’
‘You just got to say to yourself, “I’m a free man in here” – he tapped his forehead – “and you’re all right”.’
‘No one can get up much enthusiasm for a Government which puts you in jail if you open your mouth’
‘Like a drug, the machine is useful, dangerous and habit-forming. The oftener one surrenders to it the tighter its grip becomes.’
‘There was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom.’
‘In every one of those little stucco boxes, there’s some poor bastard who’s never free except when he’s fast asleep and dreaming’
‘The nation is bound together by an invisible chain.’
‘The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside.’
‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’
‘Freedom of speech is real.’
‘Will the man in the street ever feel that freedom of the mind is as important and as much in need of being defended as his daily bread?’
‘What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.’
George Orwell quotes about society and mankind
‘In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’
‘The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.’
‘Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.’
‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.’
‘Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’
‘In the face of pain, there are no heroes. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’
‘The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.’
‘The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.’
‘Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.’
‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.’
‘On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.’
‘Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.’
‘We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.’
‘If you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them’
‘Man is the only creature that consumes without producing’
‘If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.’
‘A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.’
‘The distinguishing mark of a man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.’
‘In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.’
George Orwell wrote on some major topics related to the political views and movements of his times.
But decades after he put his opinions into words, the ideas they shape still stand firm.
In today’s world, we can always refer to his works again. Because while he died long ago, what he was fighting for are still the same issues the world is facing right now.
Now that you’ve read these George Orwell quotes, check out our recent article sharing some of the most poignant Kierkegaard quotes. Or perhaps you’re interested in exploring these Schopenhauer quotes.