Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Orwell Live-Blogs WWII and Trotsky's Death

. Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I believe I've linked to them before, reading George Orwell's diaries during WWII are fascinating. For instance, seventy years ago last week Leon Trotsky was murdered in Mexico City by Stalin's agents, as recounted in this entry. Orwell wonders why elements of the English press were unwilling to connect the dots from Stalin to the ice-pick that took Trotsky's life, which leads to speculation that the need for a UK-USSR alliance in opposition to the Axis was to blame.

The Beaverbrook press, compared with the headlines I saw on other papers, seems to be playing down the suggestion that Trotsky’s murder was carried out by the G.P.U[1]. In fact today’s Evening Standard, with several separate items about Trotsky, didn’t mention this suggestion. No doubt they still have their eye on Russia and want to placate the Russians at all costs, in spite of Low’s cartoons[2]. But under this there may lie a much subtler manoeuvre. The men responsible for the Standard’s present pro-Russian policy are no doubt shrewd enough to know that a Popular Front “line” is not really the way to secure a Russian alliance. But they also know that the mass of leftish opinion in England still takes it for granted that a full anti-fascist policy is the way to line up Russia on our side. To crack up Russia is therefore a way of pushing public opinion leftward. It is curious that I always attribute these devious motives to other people, being anything but cunning myself and finding it hard to use indirect methods even when I see the need for them.

It's impossible to know whether geopolitical considerations actually motivated the English press to omit some items and cover others in the hope of swaying public opinion, but it is interesting to think about possible modern parallels.


Orwell Live-Blogs WWII and Trotsky's Death




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