Why Orwell changed his mind about propaganda

When he applied to work as a Talks Producer for the BBC’s Overseas service in 1941, George Orwell appears at first to have been keen to support the government’s propaganda efforts. For the duration of the war, the BBC’s overseas service came under the direction of the Ministry Of Information and was run by Ivone Kirkpatrick. At his interview, Orwell impressed the BBC’s Director of Empire Services, R. A. Rendall, who wrote in a memo, ‘He accepted absolutely the need for propaganda to be directed by the Government and stressed his view that in war-time discipline in the execution of Government policy was essential.’

For the next two years Orwell worked as a Talks Producer for the Eastern Service. His job was to write propaganda for broadcast to India, where he was born and served in the police.

It appears to have been his experiences with the Ministry Of Information that changed his mind. In 1942 he confided to his diary that, ‘All propaganda is lies, even when one is telling the truth.’ In 1943 he left the BBC and by 1948 he was writing Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its emphasis on dominating public consciousness through continual propaganda campaigns.

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