50 Terrifyingly Relevant George Orwell Quotes

George Orwell (1903-1950) was an English novelist, literary critic, and essay writer who is best known for his novels Animal Farm and 1984. Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in Motahari, India, where his father was stationed as a British civil servant. His mother moved with him and his older sister to England when he was young. He was sent to boarding school and later attended college at Eton.

His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London was written in 1933, chronicled his life after he left his post as a civil servant. He did not want to embarrass his family by publishing a book about his time living as a tramp with his real name, so he sent several pseudonyms to the publisher. George Orwell was one of those pseudonyms, and it became his pen name for life. His next book was about his time in Burma as a civil servant, Burmese Days.

Orwell fought against General Franco in the Spanish Civil War and was later indicted with treason in Spain, although he had left the country before his indictment. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938 and suffered from bouts of the illness throughout the remainder of his life. He died of tuberculosis when he was just 46 years old.

The novel  1984 was published in 1949. A stark warning about excessive government control, much of this book is strangely predictive of some contemporary governments. In 1984 ,  three all-powerful, constantly warring states rule the world. The government’s control is so effusive it controls even thoughts.

Without further ado, here are the best George Orwell quotes – and we grouped them by topic/book for you.

George Orwell Quotes

George Orwell 1984 Quotes

  1. “Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.”
  2. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
  3. “The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”
  4. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
  5. “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
  6. “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
  7. “Big Brother is Watching You.”
  8. “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
  9. “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
  10. “Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter; only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you-that would be the real betrayal.”
  11. “Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else.”
  12. “Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.”
  13. “To die hating them, that was freedom.”
  14. “Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.”
  15. “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”
  16. “If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”
  17. “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”
  18. “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
  19. “It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same–everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same–people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.”
  20. “The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.”
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The novel “Animal Farm” was written in 1945. A satire about Soviet Communism, Animal Farm tells of a farm in which the animals rebelled and created their own farm. Sadly, the “intelligent” pigs soon became their oppressors, much like what happened with Stalin and Trotsky in the Soviet Union.

George Orwell Animal Farm Quotes

  1. “The animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acute positive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master.”
  2. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
  3. “All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.”
  4. “The Seven Commandments:Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.No animal shall wear clothes.No animal shall sleep in a bed.No animal shall drink alcohol.No animal shall kill any other animal.All animals are equal.”
  5. “Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.”
  6. “They had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.”
  7. “Napoleon is always right.”
  8. “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”
  9. “Comrades!’ he cried. ‘You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.”
  10. “Some of the animals remembered — or thought they remembered — that the Sixth Commandment decreed, ‘No animal shall kill any other animal.’ And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this.”
  11. “Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers.”
  12. “No sentimentality, comrade…The only good human being is a dead one.”
  13. “And remember also that in fighting against man we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices.”
  14. “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer—except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”
  15. “The result of preaching totalitarian doctrines is to weaken the instinct by means of which free peoples know what is or is not dangerous.”
  16. “They were always cold, and usually hungry as well. Only Boxer and Clover never lost heart. Squealer made excellent speeches on the joy of service and the dignity of labor, but the other animals found more inspiration in Boxer’s strength and his never-failing cry of “I will work harder!”
  17. “It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, “Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days.”
  18. “On Sunday mornings Squealer, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent, or five hundred per cent, as the case might be. The animals saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember very clearly what conditions had been like before the Rebellion. All the same, there were days when they felt that they would sooner have had less figures and more food.”
  19. “The work of teaching and organizing the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals.”
  20. “Friend of fatherless! Fountain of happiness! Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on Fire when I gaze at thy Calm and commanding eye, Like the sun in the sky, Comrade Napoleon!”
  21. “But all such doubts were now dispelled. Today he and his friends had visited Animal Farm and inspected every inch of it with their own eyes, and what did they find? Not only the most up-to-date methods, but a discipline and an orderliness which should be an example to all farmers everywhere. He believed that he was right in saying that the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the county. Indeed he and his fellow-visitors today had observed many features which they intended to introduce on their own farms immediately.”
  22. “Throughout the spring and summer they worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.”
  23. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
  24. “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.”
  25. “To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance.”
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Orwell disliked any type of dictatorial government. He spoke out against communism, socialism, and fascism frequently, both as a social critic and a novelist.

George Orwell on Communism:

  1. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
  2. “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”
  3. “The mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”
  4. “The Communism of the English intellectual is something explicable enough. It is the patriotism of the deracinated.”
  5. “I always disagree, however, when people end up saying that we can only combat Communism, Fascism or what not if we develop an equal fanaticism. It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence.”

George Orwell Video – His Literature

This great short video is a fascinating overview of Orwell’s most popular books. The video discusses their impact and cultural context. It’s very much worth a watch to remind you about the impact Orwell’s writings have had on society.

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Orwell was the literary giant of his generation. His most famous works are still widely read and serve as literary warnings on the danger of overreaching government power. Both “Animal Farm” and “1984” are terrifyingly relevant to many aspects of today’s world. Seemingly prescient, Orwell foretold some aspects of the future with frightening accuracy. We can all relate to Orwell’s warnings and use these 50 quotes to remind us to be careful and honest in our lives.

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Image Credit: Branch of the National Union of Journalists (BNUJ)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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