Monday, May 26, 2008

Stuff you find when looking for other stuff

I just found my spare camera battery that I had lost. Unfortunately I was looking for my still un-found mini bike pump at the time. You win some, you loose some. On a related note I was going to write about a BBC World documentary I just listened to about the kidnap of Norman Kember in the Iraq. I won't now as I really need to go to bed, but the story not told reminded me of that quote you see kicked around the internet - often on blogs and sites supporting the U.S. military:
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
It is always attributed to George Orwell, but when I first came across maybe five years ago and did a bit research on the quote, I couldn't find an accurate citation of where it came from and when he said it. I even heard Garrison Keillor attribute it to Orwell on Prairie Home Companion the other week, so when it came to mind tonight I thought I must now, some years later, be able to find a citation for it - but now Wikiquote and an Orwell site, both suggest it is apocryphal. The George Orwell FAQ site says this:

Rough Men

Did George Orwell ever say: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf?" Or: "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us?"

Not exactly. But he did make comments that were along similar lines. In his essay on Rudyard Kipling (1942), Orwell wrote: "[Kipling] sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilised, are there to guard and feed them." (Thanks to Keith Ammann for this). And in his 'Notes on Nationalism' (1945) he wrote: "Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf." (Thanks to Parbety). Where the rough men crept in is anyone's guess.
So now we have that cleared up, I'll have to get back to Norman Kember, Anas al-Tikriti and the missing "rough men" of the SAS another night. And if you see a mini-bike pump lying around give me a yell...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked the post. Thanks.