Orwell and Churchill recognized that the key question of their century ultimately was …how to preserve the liberty of the individual during an age when the state was becoming powerfully intrusive into private life. …
Thomas Ricks, Churchill & Orwell – The Fight for Freedom, Penguin Press, New York, 2017, at page 2
The twentieth century saw the rise of tyrannical regimes that exploited technological developments to monitor, control, and terrorize their citizens. The militaristic expansion of these states, often fueled by utopian propaganda, threatened the basic tenets of free and progressive societies: freedom of thought and the sanctity of the individual.
Thomas Ricks examines the critical role that Winston Churchill and George Orwell played in exposing, and resisting the spread of, these totalitarian administrations. Churchill and Orwell shared an unwavering commitment to preserving individual liberty, despite adamant opposition from many of their contemporaries. As Ricks notes at page 269:
To refuse to run with the herd is generally harder than it looks. To break with the most powerful among that herd requires unusual depth of character and clarity of mind. But it is a path we should all strive for if we are to preserve the right to think, speak, and act independently, heeding the dictates not of the state or of fashionable thought but of our own consciences. …
These themes will resonate deeply with criminal practitioners. Our role is to protect the principles of liberal democracy that Churchill and Orwell recognized were at risk of extinction, and to speak out against popular opinions that threaten to undermine the fundamental values of our system of justice.
While they never met in person, Churchill and Orwell “admired each other from a distance”, and it is no coincidence that Orwell named the protagonist of 1984, his most famous novel, and one of which Churchill was fond, “Winston” (page 2).