Orwell and Ehrenburg on Hope
By David Henderson
How many times have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could … The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
This is a quote from George Orwell, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad. It’s referenced in Herman Goodden, “There’s (a Lot) More to George Orwell than Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Quillette.com, August 27, 2021.
The whole article is worth reading.
The quote reminded me of this quote from Ilya Ehrenburg, whom I remember William F. Buckley, Jr. referring to as that “great Stalinist hack.” If I recall correctly, WFB was saying that even Ehrenburg went beyond his hackdom to say that there was hope for totalitarianism not to cover the world. Here’s the quote:
You could cover the whole earth with asphalt, but sooner or later green grass would break through.
I used to have that quote up on my wall when I was in my late teens and early 20s. It gave me inspiration. I actually liked my version better:
If the whole world were covered with concrete, one day a crack would appear in that concrete and in that crack, grass would grow.