Perhaps the most horrific battle of them all began 70 years ago today. Here’s Orwell:
The Germans invaded the U.S.S.R. this morning.
Everyone greatly excited. It is universally assumed that this development is to our advantage. It is only so, however, if the Russians actually intend to fight back and can put up a serious resistance, if not enough to halt the Germans, at any rate enough to wear down their air force and navy. Evidently the immediate German objective is not either territory or oil, but simply to wipe out the Russian air force and thus remove a danger from their rear while they deal finally with England. Impossible to guess what kind of show the Russians can put up. The worst omen is that the Germans would probably not have attempted this unless certain that they can bring it off, and quite rapidly at that.
Things to note:
1) Orwell would have written a blog, not a diary (or perhaps in addition to a diary) had such things existed then.
2) He’s instinctively contrarian. The majority think this; this may well be proved mistaken. This suits 1) above.
3) Sometimes the majority are actually right. This was one such instance and Orwell was wrong.
4) Orwell’s pessimism looks daft now; it was not necessarily so at the time.
5) A diary, like a blog, is a contemporary account of events. A single entry ought best, where possible, be considered in the context of the broader, greater narrative. A snapshot at any one time is useful but also, often, misleading.
6) Most of us could probably use a little more doubt in our writing.
7) Blogs will be an amazing resource for historians compiling histories of the 21st century.
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