Not getting Orwell

The freedom of the internet sometimes makes you bump into people whom you, at first, sympathize with, and then at some point you discover, almost painfully, that while you share a common interest or viewpoint, you fundamentally came at it from different angles.

I always have had the idea that the history of the fight at the Eastern Front in the Second World War has been a victim of the cold war. Most of what we know, in the West at least, is the tale from the German side. The tale is almost that of a fantasy novel. The Germans, technically superior but numerically inferior, fight a foe with skilled tactics. The Russians combat that invasion with technically inferior systems by using numbers and blunt force tactics.

This is, of course, a very crude representation of reality but it is made by me to serve a point. The point being that one can invoke the idea of a numerically inferior force being able to best a numerically stronger enemy using better men, better weapons and better tactics. Hence, the Nato in Western-Europe, facing the specter of overwhelmingly superior Warsaw Pact forces, might stand a chance if they did what the Germans did, but learned to avoid what brought them defeat.

Of course the German generals, – those who survived -, would tell that tale. It was not their failure that defeat followed. And in the West we, no doubt, were all too willing to buy into that narrative. Even men like Milton Shulman, a man who wanted to set that narrative of the superior German warrior caste straight – Inadvertently bought into this narrative. He wanted to show on the one hand”what pathetic and petty figures these men really were.” 1). But at the same time Shulman reinforced the narrative by acknowledging the competence of the German command; “Why did a group of men with more training, more experience, and more passion for the art of warfare than any other contemporary group of similarly trained men fail to ensure victory[]?

So why did the German’s lose that fight?

[]These weaknesses might be summed up in three words – Hitler, discipline and ignorance.“2)

Here was, so to speak, the perfect military machine that eventually defeated itself. And, as Shulman will acknowledge, this defeat was mostly on the Eastern Front.3)

One fundamental problem was that for the Eastern Front it was hard to hear the Russian side. Not only because of barriers of language and ideology, but also because that side of story might not be a welcome one. What if the Russians eventually were able to field superior numbers, superior technology and use superior tactics? What if they were capable of winning a war without overwhelming superior numbers? Would this foe, now expanded with the sources of Eastern Europe and with only a few hundred kilometers to go to the Atlantic shore, not be unstoppable? Would not then the inevitability of nuclear war be a forgone conclusion?

Ironically it took the fall of the Sovjet Union to give a boost to a re-investigation of the history of the Eastern Front. What did the Sovjet sources tell us? Enter men like David Glantz who after the fall have been trying to see that war from the other side.

Of course, this history, and possible correction, would eventually surface somewhere on the internet. And of those who gave us a renewed narrative of the fight on the Eastern Front was TIK, who dutifully has been trying to tell that tale.

Now you might think TIK is somewhat like Glantz in this respect, – he often uses Glantz as his source -, but you would be far from the truth. You see, to be an historian you need to be a critical reader. And mind you, not just towards other people, but foremost towards yourself. Am I correct? Are my ideas right? And this is where TIK fails the most obvious.

I already showed in a post about his youtube movie about Hitler being a socialist how he cannot even maintain internal consistency. 4) But I ran into him again after I was curious what people say about fascism.

Now to understand his lack of self criticism I have to address it here, not so much as to be nasty to TIK, but in the hope that those who happen to watch his channel will be wary of what he is saying. Check, check and double check. Oh yes, you can check me too.

Now in that YouTube movie TIK has decided to read out the whole article by George Orwell named, “What is Fascism?” And I mean, verbatim. See below for the movie and below that for the article.

The essence of Orwell’s article is that Fascism, even back in his days(we are talking 1944) was used for about anything negative: “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. “

And

Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

A key sentence here is this:

All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

And here is TIK’s comment to that youtube movie:

George Orwell wrote a short piece in 1944 asking the question: What is Fascism? George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) died in 1950. His work is technically not in the PUBLIC (STATE) domain in the UK until the end of this year. If Orwell’s estate wishes to make a Fascist-copyright claim on this video, feel free. I’m not monetizing it anyway, and will simply take the video down.

Here then is a man who directly infringes a copyright by literally reading out the whole article verbatim and then calls the Orwell estate fascist beforehand because they might see it as an infringement.

Now you might take this as some form of statement, but fundamentally it shows how disrespectful this man is towards the memory of Orwell by basically directly doing the opposite of what Orwell is advocating: to use that word as a swear word. My impression is that doesn’t even get this. TIK seems too serious in this to understand the irony of his statement.

But even if it was Irony, it is still done in poor taste.

Notes:

  1. Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page XIV,
  2. Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page 3
  3. Shulman, 20
  4. https://meritcoba.com/2019/08/07/6459/

Sources

Milton Shulman’s book, Defeat in the West, can be read via the internet archive. https://archive.org/details/DefeatInTheWest/page/n39/mode/2up

Tik’s youtube movie can be found here:

George Orwell’s article can be found on this website:

George Orwell: ‘What is Fascism?’
First published: Tribune. — GB, London. — 1944.

https://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc