Friday 26 August 2016, Rossa Minogue

The totalitarian moment: Europe in the Thirties to Fifties

Podcast: lecture by Bruno Waterfield recorded at The Academy 2016

Across Europe in the 1930s, a battle opened as totalitarians of the right and left sought power over man’s soul. This was not merely an exercise in traditional tyranny or authoritarianism but an attempt to break down informal relationships, to assault sovereignty and independence at the level of the nation and the individual. The aim was to destroy those boundaries of freedom that make us human, even to attack the mind itself. In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, O’Brien, the sinister party intellectual, sets out the totalitarian project. ‘The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things but over men’, he tells Winston Smith. ‘Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together in new shapes of your own choosing.’

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