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Anglosphere Attitudes

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, by Daniel Hannan (Broadside, 416 pp., $26.99)

George Orwell, who spent his short career fighting the coupled perils of censorship and propaganda, famously accorded to the fictional ruling party of Nineteen Eighty-Four’s England the aphorism “He who controls the past controls the future.” But it was his contemporary, the less frequently quoted Aldous Huxley, who more presciently sketched out the threat to the free.

In Huxley’s dismal estimation, the primary hazard wasn’t so much the suppression of truth as it was apathy, nonsense, and disconnection from tradition. And the salient question for those who were protective of English liberty was not what would happen if their past were erased or replaced by force, but what would become of their countries if the citizenry became so distracted that it didn’t know anything about the past at all — if, that is, the people became “concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant.” Cynics such as myself might look around and ask, “Are we there yet?”

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