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The Betrayal of Dissent: Beyond Orwell, Hitchens and the New American Century: Book by Scott Lucas

The Betrayal of Dissent: Beyond Orwell, Hitchens and the New American Century

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ISBN: 9780745321974    Publisher: Pluto Press Year of publishing: 2004     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 336        
Since his death in 1950, George Orwell has been canonised as England's foremost political writer, and the standard-bearer of honesty and decency for the honourable 'Left'. In this controversial polemic,...Read more
Since his death in 1950, George Orwell has been canonised as England's foremost political writer, and the standard-bearer of honesty and decency for the honourable 'Left'. In this controversial polemic, Scott Lucas argues that the exaltation of Orwell, far from upholding dissent against the State, has sought to quash such opposition. Indeed, Orwell has become the icon of those who, in the pose of the contrarian, try to silence public opposition to US and U K foreign policy in the 'War on Terror'. Lucas's lively and readable critique of public intellectuals including Christopher Hitchens, Michael Walzer, David Aaronovitch, and Johann Hari - who have all invoked Orwellian honesty and decency to shut down dissent - will appeal to anyone disillusioned with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lucas contends that these leading journalists and commentators have used Orwell to justify their own political transition from radicals to upholders of the establishment.
All of them play influential roles in supporting the UK and US governments' charge that opponents of war -- and those who question the motives behind American foreign policy and its implementation -- should be condemned as 'appeasers of mass murder'. This controversial book shows how Orwell has been used since 9/11 to justify, in the guise of independent thought, the suppression of dissent. We must rescue ourselves from Orwell and from those who take on his guise so, as Lucas puts it, our 'silencing is...vital to a "manufacture of consent" for the wars which are supposedly being fought in our name and for our good'.
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About the author: Scott Lucas
Scott Lucas is a regular contributor to the New Statesman. He is Professor of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham and author... Read more
Scott Lucas is a regular contributor to the New Statesman. He is Professor of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham and author of numerous books on US and British foreign policy, intelligence services, culture and ideology. He is the author of Orwell: LIfe and Times (2003).
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Review:
Scott Lucas is the first writer to engage at length with the extraordinary split on the left created by the Iraq war. He does it brilliantly. He is completely fearless, challenging not only the...Read more
Scott Lucas is the first writer to engage at length with the extraordinary split on the left created by the Iraq war. He does it brilliantly. He is completely fearless, challenging not only the bombast of Christopher Hitchens and other pro-war supporters but also our preconceptions about that icon of the left, George Orwell. -- Peter Wilby, Editor, New Statesman This is the compelling story of how self-constructed contrarians, whilst staking out the moral high ground, have acted to close down debate and stigmatise dissent. Lucas forces us to ask whether intellectuals can ever be suitable candidates for the policing of our souls when they themselves have abandoned any attachment to the sanctity of habeas animam. While 'Orwell', Hitchens, and Ignatieff wield their shovels not against the State but for it, Lucas takes his own shovel and digs a crater-sized hole for the burial of their self-aggrandising unwisdom, their distortions, and their intellectual opportunism. -- Frances Stonor Saunders, author of The Cultural Cold War and Who Paid the Piper? This is an angry book. It is also well researched, carefully footnoted and coherently argued. The author's point is not to damn Orwell and the much-slighter Hitchens, but to detail their inconsistencies, set their work in context and question their value to us as guides to current political action. -- Tribune This should be a fine and important book. -- Noam Chomsky
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