“At the beginning I wasn’t exactly listening. The lecturer was
rather a mean-looking little chap, but a good speaker. White face,
very mobile mouth, and the rather grating voice that they get from
constant speaking. Of course he was pitching into Hitler and the
Nazis. I wasn’t particularly keen to hear what he was saying–get
the same stuff in the News Chronicle every morning–but his voice
came across to me as a kind of burr-burr-burr, with now and again a
phrase that struck out and caught my attention.
‘Bestial atrocities. . . . Hideous outbursts of sadism. . . .
Rubber truncheons. . . . Concentration camps. . . . Iniquitous
persecution of the Jews. . . . Back to the Dark Ages. . . .
European civilization. . . . Act before it is too late. . . .
Indignation of all decent peoples. . . . Alliance of the
democratic nations. . . . Firm stand. . . . Defence of
democracy. . . . Democracy. . . . Fascism. . . . Democracy. . . .
Fascism. . . . Democracy. . . .’
You know the line of talk. These chaps can churn it out by the
hour. Just like a gramophone. Turn the handle, press the button,
and it starts. Democracy, Fascism, Democracy. But somehow it
interested me to watch him. A rather mean little man, with a white
face and a bald head, standing on a platform, shooting out slogans.
What’s he doing? Quite deliberately, and quite openly, he’s
stirring up hatred. Doing his damnedest to make you hate certain
foreigners called Fascists. It’s a queer thing, I thought, to be
known as ‘Mr So-and-so, the well-known anti-Fascist’. A queer
trade, anti-Fascism. This fellow, I suppose, makes his living by
writing books against Hitler. But what did he do before Hitler
came along? And what’ll he do if Hitler ever disappears? Same
question applies to doctors, detectives, rat-catchers, and so
forth, of course. But the grating voice went on and on, and
another thought struck me. He MEANS it. Not faking at all–feels
every word he’s saying. He’s trying to work up hatred in the
audience, but that’s nothing to the hatred he feels himself. Every
slogan’s gospel truth to him. If you cut him open all you’d find
inside would be Democracy-Fascism-Democracy. Interesting to know a
chap like that in private life. But does he have a private life?
Or does he only go round from platform to platform, working up
hatred? Perhaps even his dreams are slogans.”
George Orwell excerpt from Coming Up for Air