rashbre central: The iron heel - a Tory trope?

Wednesday 4 October 2023

The iron heel - a Tory trope?

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.’ Famously from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

Suella Braverman illustrates the totalitarian trope by standing on a guide dog tail whilst talking  at the Tory Conference (she did later apologise).

But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.

A picture of undistilled power, control, and oppression: the key themes of Nineteen Eighty-Four and much of the work Orwell wrote in the wake of his involvement in the Spanish Civil War. 

A current distillation of that type of power is illustrated below by a knowing heckler ejected from the conference and escorted away by police. Not a good look during your speech, Rishi.

Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels  is said to have influenced Orwell. In Swift's Book IV, Gulliver finds himself among the Houyhnhnms, horses with reason and intellect who have perfected a kind of totalitarian society:

Their prudence, unanimity, unacquaintedness with fear, and their love of their country, would amply supply all defects in the military art. Imagine twenty thousand of them breaking into the midst of an European army, confounding the ranks, overturning the carriages, battering the warriors’ faces into mummy by terrible yerks from their hinder hoofs.


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