I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Martin Tyrrell

Hergé’s Adventures in Politics

Hergé, the creator of Tintin, was one of many Belgians to respond to an appeal from King Leopold to return to the country they had fled after its 1940 surrender and resume normal life. When the Allies landed in Normandy four years later some of them felt it wise to leave again.

Two Legs Bad

A socialist society may be beyond us: morally we’re not up to it.

The Unknown Eileen

Had Eileen O’Shaughnessy not taken up with George Orwell, she might have found success, if not fame, in her own right, possibly as an academic or a child psychologist. Her loss was to be his gain, something neither he nor most of his biographers have properly taken on board.

Ins and Outs

Psychologist Henri Tajfel was an argumentative man and he encouraged similar aggressive attitudes in his colleagues and students. He tended to make up his mind early, a colleague wrote, if you were on the side of the angels or not. And he never changed his mind.

Waiting for Big Brother

Most biography of Orwell carries the assumption that his whole writing life was a preparation for his final work. This may well be so: the heroes and heroines of the earlier novels tend to be placed, alone or friendless, at the centre of a hostile world from which there is no escape.

Smile, and turn up the power

In a Yale experiment in the 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram found that large numbers of ordinary, inoffensive people were prepared to administer painful electric shocks to another person, similarly ordinary and inoffensive, sometimes even when a fatality seemed possible.

The Glimmer

Nineteen Eighty-Four ends with the total defeat of its rebellious protagonist Winston Smith. Or so it seems. But if the victory of the Party seemed final in 1984, who could it have been who wrote (in ‘oldspeak’) the book’s appendix, dated 2050, entitled ‘The Principles of Newspeak’?

Starving Them Out

The naval blockade of Germany during the First World War is a subject that is little treated today. Yet estimates of civilian deaths caused by it range from around 400,000 to more than three-quarters of a million. Not until there were German signatures on the Treaty of Versailles was it fully lifted.

Them and Us

A classic experiment in social psychology and group antagonism now looks as if it was manipulated to produce the results required by the preceding theory. That doesn’t, however, mean the theory is wrong: if people grow up in a culture of us against them, that’s the society we will get.

The Quixote of Cant

George Orwell set himself the mission of uncovering and ‘calling out’ all forms of political lying and evasion, particularly those of the people he called ‘the boiled rabbits of the Left’. He often chose his targets well, though he was far from being without foibles or prejudices himself.