Miscellany: The Clash, socialists, fascists, George Orwell, luck

>> Thursday, March 10, 2011

So two years ago, some ignorant douchetard tried to claim that liberalism was fascism or something. Never mind that historically socialists were the first vanguard against fascism in the 1930s, before the rest of the world woke up and decided something needed to be done about that Hitler fellow and Mussolini. Ultimately, the United States didn't decide to take on the greatest evil of the 20th Century because we were such moral blokes; ultimately what it took was the sinking of (most of) our Pacific fleet by the fascists' great Eastern ally, and then all of a sudden we were ready to go to war against the whole bunch. For those who have a hard time with American History 101: the Japanese attack the United States on December 7th, 1941; we declare war back on the 8th; then the Germans and Italians declare war on us on the 11th of that year and we declare war right back. Of course, much of the Europe had already been at war with Germany and Italy for years; much of Asia had been at war with Japan; we'd mostly been sitting this one out until the Japanese sank our boats.

It comes to mind because we'd just been talking about George Orwell a few days ago (I say this as if it were our dialogue and not just me ranting at the whole World Wide Web). I don't mean to bring it up because of that guy Goldberg's forgettable and ignorant work a few years ago that everybody's probably already forgotten even existed, but because George Orwell was a guy who got shot in the neck by fascists well before it became fashionable. Which is pretty fucking hardcore, y'know. I'm not sure how many contemporary authors have Orwell's faculty with the English language and his willingness to get shot in the neck by ultra right-wing assholes. The late Hunter Thompson maybe would have put his neck where his mouth was, if you know what I mean. William Burroughs sort of comes to mind as a brilliant writer who might have been willing to take a bullet, too, until one remembers that Burroughs spent so much of his life running from the law, etc., plus Burroughs was always more willing to be behind a trigger than in front of one.

Anyway, Orwell = hardcore, which is the point.

It's hard not to idolize Orwell a little because of that whole thing. I mean, I don't exactly want to be shot anytime soon, but I hope you can understand why anyone would want to be a fucking brilliant writer who was willing to enlist on principle. Which is funny, because I write this as a pacifist who would utterly refuse to ever shoot anyone. Still. Like I said, Orwell was hardcore. It's just hard for me not to admire a dude who writes that well and went to war against fascists, because if I'm opposed to war, well, I'm also very much in favor of (a) awesome writing and (b) taking the piss out of fascists.

Which is also something I feel The Clash did in their not-so-small way, speaking of.

Orwell, as anyone ought to know, stood up when he wasn't supposed to and got shot in the neck, which brings us to the best part of all of it: some asshole told Orwell he was lucky to be alive and Orwell replied, very sensibly, he would have been luckier not to be shot. This is, of course, very sensible. With depressing regularity, any time somebody suffers a close call, some dimwit says they're lucky to be alive, as if it wouldn't have been better not to be shot in the throat (for instance). I mean, if Orwell had been really lucky, that fucking fascist sniper would have just missed him; instead, Orwell wound up in the hospital and suffered health problems the remainder of his life, which only lasted another ten years. People can be pretty stupid.


jamie Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 2:23:00 PM EST  

If we're talking about hardcore authors (and I'm going to pretend we are, just so I can derail this post right off the bat) I feel compelled to mention Peter Watts, who apart from being a convicted felon in America (he's Canadian" recently came down with a flesh eating bug, the results of which he documents here.

Sorry to do that, it's an interesting post with lots of links to follow, click-clicky time...

Eric Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 4:45:00 PM EST  

Actually, I'm happy to make this a comment thread about authors who are totally hardcore, as in the sense of total badass sense, not the explicit writing sense (i.e. the first person who says "Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure" gets a noogie). We're talking writers who survive shit that ought to kill somebody, and their only response (aside, possibly, from bleeding) is a bon mot.

Candidates, anyone?

Nathan Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 8:09:00 PM EST  

I'm reading the latest collection of unpublished Kurt Vonnegut short stories. Granted, he didn't exactly volunteer to be a POW, but surviving Dresden is pretty hardcore.

Nathan Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 8:10:00 PM EST  

Oh...and Slaughterhouse Five is one hell of a bon mot.

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