George Orwell & Empathy

A timely post by


I’m familiar with George Orwell, specifically “Animal Farm,” but his 1937 book “The Road to Wigan Pier” is one that I never read. Orwell’s timing is remarkable. He writes “if war breaks out it (coal) is needed all the more. In time of revolution, the miner must go on working or the revolution must stop, for revolution as much as reaction needs coal.”


A year and a half after this book was published, WW2 began, despite some conflicts on smaller scales prior to 1939. I can only imagine from a miner’s perspective, suspecting that war was on the horizon across Europe.

Even at my strongest, when I played tennis for 5 hours a day every day in school, I know I still couldn’t be a coal miner, let alone a pregnant one. I don’t think I ever had that kind of stamina to work in a dark, dank environment, as my lungs slowly died each day.


Also a very timely post by given the controversial commentary of Mrs. Clinton on dismantling the coal industry.

word and silence

As usual, George Orwell says it better than anybody. Here he is in his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, asking his readers not to give up using coal, but just to recognize whose labor is providing them with coal. Nowadays I would only add to the coal miner all the people behind all of our conveniences; because if we aren’t willing to give some or all of the dependence and enjoyment derived from technology, infrastructure, culture, fast food, sports, and so much else, the least we can do is empathize with those behind the process who (like us) would rather spend our days doing something else.

The entire text of the book can be found here; the following comes from chapter two. And if his faith in Socialism in the second half of the book seems unfortunate nowadays, his description of coal miners and the unemployed…

View original post 736 more words


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