How the British Empire Created and Killed George Orwell — Strategic Culture
Orwell’s early famous book “Down and Out in London and Paris” is a testament to how much he literally tortured and humiliated himself in those first years back from Burma. And for the rest of his life.
He ate miserably badly, was skinny and ravaged by tuberculosis and other health problems, smoked heavily and denied himself any decent medical care. His appearance was always abominable. His friend, the writer Malcolm Muggeridge speculated that Orwell wanted to remake himself as a caricature of a tramp.
The truth clearly was that Orwell never forgave himself for what he did as a young agent of empire in Burma. Even his literally suicidal decision to go to the most primitive, cold, wet and poverty-stricken corner of creation in a remote island off Scotland to finish “1984” in isolation before he died was consistent with the merciless punishments he had inflicted on himself all his life since leaving Burma.
The conclusion is clear: For all the intensity of George Orwell’s experiences in Spain, his passion for truth and integrity, his hatred of the abuse of power did not originate from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. They all flowed directly from his own actions as an agent of the British Empire in Burma in the 1920s: Just as his creation of the Ministry of Truth flowed directly from his experience of working in the Belly of the Beast of the BBC in the early 1940s.