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The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  576 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me." So starts this 1941 essay in which Orwell argues that the outdated British class system was hampering the war effort, and that in order to defeat Hitler, Britain needed a socialist revolution. (Source:

Part I: England Your England
Part II: Shopkeepers
Paperback, 123 pages
Published 1982 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published February 19th 1941)
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Paul Bryant
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
This is an awkward 100 page essay to hack your way through. It was written in the winter of 1941 and published in February, so at that point Stalin was still in bed with Hitler - the invasion of Russia happened in June. Bombs were raining down all over England and especially over London – this was the Blitz which happened between September 1940 and May 1941 - 43,000 people killed, or around 163 people a day for 9 months.

This was the darkest point of the war for Britain. Orwell is saying here th
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More of Orwell at his best.

Orwell spends some time discussing the English national character; what ties the English together; and how best to proceed with the necessary socialist revolution. In this he has some fascinating insights into English culture, some of which seem to me to have stood the test of time. He then explains the inadequacy of both the incompetent ruling class of the British Empire and of the inefficient unplanned capitalist system of the British economy. He explains how the cap
Andrés Cabrera
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ensayo
Llevaba mucho tiempo sin leer un libro completo de ensayos. Aunque el género me agrada, estaba destinando mi tiempo libre para abordar algunos textos filosóficos y literarios (me refiero a ficción y poesía) que me llamaban la atención. Ahora, aprovechando la oportunidad de dictar un curso de Ensayos de opinión en la universidad en la que trabajo, decidí abordar algunos textos que había comprado hace tiempo.

El libro de Orwell que aquí comento fue uno de ellos. En sus páginas, supe encontrarme con
Ibrahim Niftiyev
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not keen on these themes and problems Orwell discussed, nevertheless, he did it in a simple way, so anyone can understand. This work is extremely local, meaning England-focused. It is normal that you can not understand some things. However, if we simplify, there are two big parts (not 3 like the author divided) in the work: the first - general description of the terrible war situation England found itself and the second - the critique of the upper class in the society. I am not gonna go dee ...more
Stephen McQuiggan
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written during the onslaught of the Second World War, Orwell builds up a treatise on how that conflict could be used to bring forth a quiet English revolution. He argues, and argues convincingly, that patriotism, far being the sole reserve of the conservative or scoundrel, is a natural and integral part of democratic socialism; that the present democracy is nothing more than private capitalism; that the cowardly intellectuals of the Left who wanted Britain to lose the war are the same individual ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an interesting historical artefact: Orwell's 1941 argument for the necessity of a socialist revolution in England, if the war was to be won. He ended up being fundamentally wrong about that, of course, even if he is really right about many another point (e.g. the inherent problems in capitalism). Nevertheless, he offers up a lucid and insightful critique of the then-current political environment, and some of what he says remains depressingly true today--indeed, perhaps even more true tha ...more
Johan Berg
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tankar som är aktuella ännu idag.
Sidharth Vardhan
A very good read. Such clarity of thoughts.

George Orwell's views on Political atmosphere are most sober in nature. There is no clouding that generally exists because of political motivations and jargon.

Though he himself is a nationalist, he honestly talks about the paradox of otherwise meaningless fights that nationalism brings with it:

"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. Th
Jeff Adams
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Written in 1941, as "highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill" him, this text outlines Orwell's vision that only through a thorough socialist revolution, can the England and the free world hope to defeat both Communism and Fascism.

At times, his statements about the greatness of the English people gets a little overbearing, but he makes some interesting points nonetheless.

I would suggest that this be required reading for anyone who has ever said that President Obama is
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"By revolution we become more ourselves, not less."
Tammam Aloudat
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is exceptional is that the writing of Orwell about England in 1940 still applies today, almost to the letter. He has described England as a family, ruled by the wrong people, the old uncles (the moneyed classes and the old and the white) ruling over the young and the poor. He talks about the weakness and illusions of the left wing intelligentsia which is also the case today, and he talks about patriotism being the thread that links all classes together.

His description of what it is to be En
Oğuzhan Batur
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
1941'de Almanların Avrupayı işgal ettiği ve henüz Sovyet ve Amerikan desteğinin ortada gözükmediği sıralarda İngiltereye dair gözlemleri kavramak için okunabilir. Orwell, İngiliz milletinin biraz incelemesini yaptıktan sonra ona savaşı kazandıracak bir reçete öneriyor. Bu reçete sosyalizm. Ancak bu sosyalizm Stalinin Bolşevizmi ya da İngilteredeki millet karşıtı komünistlerin programı değil, yurtseverliğin verimini en üst seviyeye çıkartacak bir program. Orwell sık sık Almanlara karşı savaşın, M ...more
Mehmet Kır
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-2018
Açıkçası İngilizler ve Britanya hakkında daha çok eleştirilerin sıralandığı bir kitap buldum.
Orwell'in politik eleştirileri ve tespitleri mantıklı ve başarılı. Kitaptan birkaç alıntı yapmak gerekirse:

"İngiltere güneşin altındaki en fazla sınıf hakimiyeti olan ülkedir. Yaşlı ve aptal tarafından hüküm sürdürülen kendini beğenmişliğin ve ayrıcalığın ülkesidir."

"Burada çok önemli bir İngiliz özelliğine geliyoruz; Anayasacılığa ve yasallığa saygı.
Hiç kimse adil bir yasa düşlemez. Herkes bilir ki zen
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, classics, essays
"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me."
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
honest and straightforward.
Saud أخو منيرة
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow.. what a great book!! in my opinion this book will remain as new as the publication of it.. it speak for today and the future of every war in the world
Alan Fricker
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Who is the current author I should be reading to get this kind of analysis?
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting thoughts from Orwell. Although I do not have much of a liking for Socialism, Orwell's proposed version of it may just be the best I've heard so far, mostly because it takes into consideration as a major element the national character. It almost seems like a rightist Socialism, however awkward it may sound. Orwell is equally critical of both the right and the left wing, and if the Fascists are clearly "the big villains", he shows little sympathy for Communists and the leftist intellig ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One view of this book would be to see it as a curiosity of its time. Surely Orwell's predictions didn't exactly pan out. But it's value in terms of understanding Orwell and the situation England was in at the time, is invaluable. Orwell certainly changefs his positions over time and its great to read through his books chronologically and see him grow and adapt. It's interesting to hear what you'd expect to be hypocritical views on Patriotism, and just the whole idea of Fascism at the time and ho ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
While I think I’ve at least read portions of this essay in collections, I decided to reread the whole thing. And what a thing! The essay is full of pithy quotes, and while thoroughly patriotic and nostalgic, after demonstrating his English bona fides, Orwell ultimately argues that World War II—at least part of the piece was written during a bombing raid—calls for a socialistic uprising in order to defeat the class system that is keeping England back, and making it vulnerable to fascism and defea ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent pamphlet on need of country restructuring in order to defeat the Nazi's.
This work and its message will never get old - only thing required for society to blossom is that it moves toward the better inner organization that will benefit all. It's a long process but in order to have everything the same change is required otherwise stagnation and demise will follow.

Highly recommended.

'England, your England' is an intelligent attempt to grasp the illusive indentity of Enlishness. Ii is in some ways a forerunner to Jeremy Paxman's 'The English: Portrait of a People' only a little more gutsy and heartfelt, and less academic and highbrow.
Graham Lee
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's amazing how much of the home affairs stuff is still relevant, despite the end of the war and the Empire.
Jay Harris
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really good, and of a much more optimistic tone than that of 1984
Paul Taylor
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pertinent then, pertinent now.
Bravely written with clarity.
Patriotism defined.
Revolution redefined.
An overlooked Orwell classic.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A worthwhile read ...
Géraldine Grout
trop compliqué pour moi.. ou peut etre pas assez motivée pr le lire
Siempre es interesante leer a Orwell :)
Disfrute mas sus ensayos sobre literatura, como preparar una Buena taza de Te y por qué escribe.
Willow L
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I disagree with a lot of what he says here but it's a great slice of history from a frank communicator. Well worth reading.
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Labour Party politicians would do well to look at this book published in 1941. The dilemmas of the party at that time persist.
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a a police officer with the Indian Imperia
More about George Orwell
“As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.” 22 likes
“Literature, especially poetry, and lyric poetry most of all, is a kind of family joke, with little or no value outside its own language-group.” 7 likes
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