September Reading Group
Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom
by Thomas E. Ricks
Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 7:30-9:00 am
7729 E Greenway Road, Suite 300
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(one block south of Greenway Hayden off 73rd St)
Finally, please park only in the parking spaces marked ‘visitors’, not the numbered parking spaces. If the spaces are full, you may park on the street.
Topic of Discussion
When we think of Winston Churchill, we normally think of Hitler’ betrayal of the Munich Agreement which pledged not to aggressively occupy nearby countries. This raises the question of appeasement and when can potential adversaries be trusted to adhere to promised nonaggression? When we think George Orwell, we think of his 1945 novel Animal Farm and his 1949 novel 1984. Tom Hicks has written a book comparing Churchill the politician and Orwell the novelist. Actually, Churchill was much more than a politician and Orwell was much more than a novelist. This you will learn if you read the book assigned for the next session. Our last session was on the rise and fear of the populist politician. Certainly, Hitler and the representatives of totalitarianism in Orwell’s novels could qualify as bad populists since they were democratically elected.
While Churchill and Orwell were clearly very different people, they held at least one thing in common, they both warned their respective countries, and anyone else who would listen, against trusting bad populists, that is, would be dictators who would steal a nation’s freedom by destroying people’s memory of their past, destruction of books, artifacts, anything that would create a longing for former times. In Animal Farm, Mr. Jones mistreats the animals on his farm and Old Major (Marx), an old boar on the farm develops a new ideology, equality for all, through a revolution overthrowing MAN. Napoleon (Stalin), another boar, will be the leader to do what is needed for the revolution to succeed. While the promised goal is equality for all, as the revolution progresses, the leadership does little physical labor and takes a disproportionate share of the wealth, while the greatest work is done by the naïve horse Boxer, a loyal proletariat, who believes everything Napoleon says. Orwell, in his novel 1984, describes a dystopian country called Oceania ruled by Big Brother who is the leader of the Party. Orwell explains how dictatorship is developed and maintained by the Thought Police who use Newspeak to adjust the language and history so the nation’s constituents properly follow the rules established by the dictator and the Party.
Hitler referred to himself as “ a man of peace”, but became just the opposite. Unlike Hitler, most emerging leaders today have not written their Mein Kampfs so we must rely on other sources to judge their veracity. This session will examine how foreign policy strategists determine when appeasement or military deterrence should be the preferred foreign policy strategy. We will do so by examining Hick’s biographies of two fascinating historical figures, Churchill and Orwell. Given the recent news of a proposed caliphate in the Middle East and the election of strong anti democratic people (ironically elected by direct democratic vote), this is a timely topic.
Please RSVP so we have sufficient seating and refreshments. Don’t be afraid of the regular members. They are very nice, at least, if you ask them, that is what they will say.
One last question, which may be the most important, at least perhaps the most interesting, what do you rely on for your foreign policy information. Clearly our opinion is based on our sources of information.