Orwell and the Left Book Club: Some of his selections 1

LBC_SSGFlbc_ssgfGeorge Orwell, in his seminal essay ‘What Is Science?’, published in Tribune in October 1945, refers to Robert Brady’s Spirit and Structure of German Fascism as if he expected his readers to be well aware of it, if not of the conclusions he was to draw.

Philip Bounds, in Orwell and Marxism: The Political and Cultural Thinking of George Orwell, describes Orwell’s argument: “Drawing his evidence from Robert Brady’s The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism (a publication of the Left Book Club [1937]) he noted that German scientists had proved especially susceptible to the appeal of Hitler, and ‘the ability to withstand nationalism’ was likely to be stronger in ordinary people than in the scientific elite. Whereas Bernal had blamed the insularity of modern science on competition between capitalist states, Orwell seemed to regard is a sort of professional deformation arising from scientific activity itself.”

Orwell’s own words were “… the number of German scientists — Jews apart — who voluntarily exiled themselves or were persecuted by the règime was much smaller than the number of writers and journalists. More sinister than this, a number of German scientists swallowed the monstrosity of ‘racial science’. You can find some of the statements to which they set their names in Professor Brady’s The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism.”

More information about the Left Book Club can be found on the Spartacus Educational website.



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