About an Orwell quote

Have now completed my Orwell collection with ‘Down and out in Paris and London’ and ; ‘The road to Wigan Pier‘. Have also found a copy of Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Cancer Ward

I keep on seeing this supposed quote by George Orwell:

“There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

It is not a genuine quotation.

The real quotation is: One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. and comes from the paragraph below, in context, taken from his famous essay “Notes on Nationalism”

All of these facts are grossly obvious if one’s emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also intolerable, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial. I come back to the astonishing failure of military prediction in the present war. It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. When Hitler invaded Russia, the officials of the M.O.I. issued ‘as background’ a warning that Russia might be expected to collapse in six weeks. On the other hand the Communists regarded every phase of the war as a Russian victory, even when the Russians were driven back almost to the Caspian Sea and had lost several million prisoners. There is no need to multiply instances. The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified – still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.

Solzhenitsyn also nailed it in his 1978 address to a crowd at Harvard University. Yes I know it’s over an hour long, but tell me if his words don’t have the same ring of truth from over forty years ago.

Hope this helps. Best wishes.

Bill.