Richard Blair | The IP Bill

ec10Richard Blair is a patron of the Orwell Society and Eric Arthur Blair’s son.

Eric Arthur Blair is the real name of the writer George Orwell, one of the voices for this issue.

Richard has read your posts about freedom, privacy and safety, find out what he had to say.



Dear Burnet News Club members.

I have been asked to address some of your concerns about the freedom and privacy that you might experience in your daily life whilst using the internet; ie how safe are you? Not only from official surveillance, but also from those who pose a threat, such as terrorists.

When my father, George Orwell (real name was Eric Arthur Blair), went to fight in the Spanish Civil War at the end of 1936, he went to fight on the side of the republicans against the fascists and was wounded, thus having to leave in June 1937. During this time he discovered how the communists were manipulating the people in Spain through lies and deceit. The fascists were doing very much the same, but he was aware of that before he went to fight. In his book, Homage to Catalonia, he sets out to give an honest account of what he saw.

This was the genesis for all his future political writing all the way until he died in 1950. One of his great “mantras” was that, “if freedom means anything, it is the right to say something that other people do not want to hear” something that we should all be allowed to do, without “let nor hindrance”.

I fear that the older generation such as myself, are increasingly coming to the conclusion that certain groups of younger people are becoming more intolerant of hearing others put forward alternative views that do not stack up with their own. My answer is simply that one should come up with a better argument to the one you are hearing, but preferably without the use of violence.

“if freedom means anything, it is the right to say something that other people do not want to hear”

Which brings me to your questions about the whether interference from organisations, such as governments, is preferable to the right of privacy and free speech. Good versus evil if you will. If you take evil as terrorism and chaos, the world becomes fearful and unruly, but out of that will come some sort of order. The world cannot exist in chaos.

The hope is that those who become the leaders will bring law and order to the situation. Within this framework the hope lies that you will feel safe to be able to express your thoughts, without fearing for your liberty.

The ideal world is one where those who are in charge create the environment in which you will feel safe, yet can voice your opinion. I must conclude that surveillance, properly monitored has to be marginally better than absolute privacy.


Comprehension questions

  • What is George Orwell’s real name?
  • Why did George Orwell leave the Spanish Civil War?
  • According to Richard Blair, how do freedom and safety exist together in an ideal world?


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