Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Quote of the Day

with 3 comments

A military parade is really a kind of ritual dance, something like a ballet, expressing a certain philosophy of life. The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is “Yes, I am ugly, and you daren’t laugh at me,” like the bully who makes faces at his victim. Why is the goose-step not used in England? There are, heaven knows, plenty of army officers who would be only too glad to introduce some such thing. It is not used because the people in the street would laugh. Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.

George Orwell, “England Your England”

Written by nevalalee

February 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

3 Responses

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  1. Does this quote about “a boot crashing down on a face” predate 1984?

    Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey

    February 8, 2018 at 2:26 pm

  2. @Bill Higgins: It does—the original essay was published in 1941. Good catch!


    February 8, 2018 at 8:46 pm

  3. Orwell is being overly optimistic about how many English would laugh at a goose-stepping military parade. It would be hard to look to history for supporting evidence of many people ever laughing at raw power that represents brute force and potential violent action. If anything, it creates mesmerizing awe to see so many people marching in step, so many individuals transformed into a collective entity.

    You might find interesting a book about the phenomenon, Keeping Together in Time by William H. McNeill. Rhythmic entrainment brings up some core issues to what it means to be human. There have been militaries marching for millennia. It is a highly effective practice for many reasons, far beyond being empty show.

    Benjamin David Steele

    February 9, 2018 at 5:37 am

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