Orwell on Pamphlets

Georeorwell To the extent there are political pamphlets today, it still rings true.  I wonder what he’d say about the writing on political blogs. In the New Statesman (picture from Wikimedia):

The liveliest pamphlets are almost always non- party, a good example being Bless ’em All, which should be regarded as a pamphlet, though it costs one and sixpence.

The reason why the badness of contemporary pamphlets is somewhat surprising is that the pamphlet ought to be the literary form of an age like our own. We live in a time when political passions run high, channels of free expression are dwindling, and organised lying exists on a scale never before known. For plugging the holes in history the pamphlet is the ideal form. Yet lively pamphlets are very few, and the only explanation I can offer – a rather lame one – is that the publishing trade and the literary papers have never made the reading public pamphlet-conscious. One difficulty of collecting pamphlets is they are not issued in any regular manner, cannot always be procured even in the libraries of museums, and are seldom advertised and still more seldom reviewed.

A good writer with something he passionately wanted to say – and the essence of pamphleteering is to have something you want to say now, to as many people as possible – would hesitate to cast it in pamphlet form, because he would hardly know how to set about getting it published, and would be doubtful whether the people he wanted to reach would ever read it. Probably he would water his idea down into a newspaper article or pad it out into a book. As a result most pamphlets are either written by lonely lunatics, or belong to the subworld of the crank religions, or are issued by political parties. The normal way of publishing a pamphlet is through a political party, and the party will see to it that any “deviation” – and hence any literary value – is kept out.