In this episode from 2009, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed Christopher Hitchens to talk about his book, Why Orwell Matters. The conversation begins as Roberts notes Hitchens’ claim that George Orwell was right about the three big issues of the 20th century: imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. What are some examples of specific things he was right about? What was he wrong about. Hitchens describes Orwell as having been transformed from a distinguished figure into an immortal figure. It certainly seems clear that Orwell’s legacy- and Hitchens- remain powerful.

Revisit this popular conversation, and share your thoughts with us today.



1. What ideologies did Orwell embrace? How did these beliefs combine his love for the English people and his opinion of socialism?


2. Roberts comments on how unique the Spanish Civil War was in the direct involvement of intellectuals, like Orwell, taking personal risk in the military ranks. He also notes how rarely high profile people seem to take such risk today. To what extent do you agree, and why do you believe this may or may not be the case?


3. Some claim 1984 and Animal Farm are pessimistic about the inevitable triumph of oppressive government. How does Hitchens counter this? How does this relate to the novels’ historical significance and continued political relevance?


4. How does Orwell’s view of F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom compare to his concept of what an over-might state entails? How does Orwell balance competing ideologies?