Continuing our series on George Orwell and Pamphlet literature.
George Orwell continued to follow the Signpost Booklets on Post-War Problems in his As I Please column.
In his 19th January 1945 column, which was divided into four parts, one part consisted of two short paragraphs:
“‘Today there are only eighty people in the United Kingdom, with net incomes of over six thousand pounds a year.’ (Mr Quintin Hogg M.P., in his pamphlet The Times We Live In.)
“There are also about eighty ways in the English and American languages of expressing incredulity—for example, garn, come off it, you bet, sez you, oh yeah, not half, I don’t think, less of it or and the pudding! But I think and then you wake up is the exactly suitable answer to a remark like the one quoted above.”
Quintin Hogg’s remarks come half way through the booklet, on page 12, and are followed by some remarkable comparisons:
Aleppo, Beirut and Damascus, all part of the French controlled Middle-Eastern mandate, were just emerging from their captivity under Vichy-Nazi control. Cairo and Alexandria had avoided the land fighting in North Africa, but had not escaped air attack, while Alexandria as a port was subject to Kriegsmarine blockade. Egypt was nominally independent: Mr Hogg appears to know that Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian businessmen continued to profit from the war. The Dominions within the British Commonwealth raised their taxes independently of London: Mr Hogg seems to think that their tax rates rose with those set in London.
Later on, Hogg appears to think that an industrial syndicalist system should be introduced as he talks of the burden of tax on “the middle-class man”: “Industry, which might be expected in justice to bear the cost of its own unemployment, sickness, old age, and perhaps the housing of its employees and the education of their children, has largely flung the burden upon him instead of reducing its dividends” (page 17). In practice, this did happen, but it was the nationalised industries such as the National Coal Board and British Steel which built new housing for its employees, while chemical companies, car makers and refrigerator manufacturers did not.
As well as Kenneth Pickthorn’s Principles and Prejudice [itself wrongly titled in the index as of Feb 2019) and Quentin Hogg’s The Times We Live In, the index to Orwell’s pamphlet collection shows he owned copies of these other Signpost Booklets:
- GM Young, Ourselves (I)
- WW Astor, Our Imperial Future
- AG Erskine-Hill, The Future of the Small Trader
- Cuthbert Maughan, Our Mercantile Marine
- Christopher Hollis Quality or Equality?
- HA Taylor, “The Editor Regrets” – The Case against The New Statesman
- Sir William Y. Darling, You and Your Neighbour – A Presentation of Local Government
That he collected nearly half of the series, while he collected only a small number of, say, the Hurricane Books, a series he praised elsewhere, may give a clue as to the attention he felt was necessary to know the intentions of a possible government in waiting.
L J Hurst
Uploaded February 10th 2019