Funding war is difficult because the government either has to fund it through taxation, or receive voluntary bonds. The taxes stress the population, and due to a limited supply of resources, if the government consumes the majority precious metals, the citizens don't have them for domestic consumption. Big deal, right? Well, it's always easy to have "big deal" moments when it's someone else's sacrifice because emotions left unchecked are egotistical--we can suspend them if the outcome doesn't put us in an uncomfortable position. WWII England didn't have this luxury.
When it is our sacrifice, even if we believe in it, our minds become tasked in a similar fashion as our bodies are, when standing; whether or not we're aware of it, we're fighting gravity, which causes us to find comfort in sitting and stretching because of the constant--though subtle--stressor of pressing upward. War requires a similar endurance from the whole populace, those it's more difficult in those who believe their sacrifice of domestic resources and habits is a holistic sacrifice of self. This thinking produces the need to blow off some steam, and not simply suffer through the adjustment.
The more I think about the population with a compulsion for a blowoff valve, separate issues become teased apart. They sound like addicts in withdrawal, in need of an endorphin- stimulating activity to replace the syringe-fed high because they can't simply go cold-turkey. Thus, the root of these material compulsions appear superfluous in origination. Page 394: "To make a rough division: the luxuries which have to be discarded in wartime are the more elaborate kinds of food and drink, fashionable clothes, cosmetics and scents--all of which either demand a great deal of labour or use up rare imported materials--personal service, and unnecessary journeys, which use up such precious imported things as rubber and petrol. The amusements which can be encouraged, on the other hand, are games, sports, music, the radio, dancing, literature and the arts generally." The stressors of domestic sacrifice during war are thus only inevitable if one's own enjoyment if dependent upon paying another for goods or services, or engaging in activities that require external energy to feed internal energy reserves. Do we really need war to push us to streamline our enjoyment-paradigm? Or even better: Can we engage in these concrete amusements without becoming dependent upon them?
Orwell lists free, enjoyable activities that don't use up the nation's labor power: games, sports, music, radio, dancing, literature, walking, swimming, skating, and playing football. At risk of sounding pompous, I'm impressed and horrified that the English cultural deprivation was so deep that Orwell felt it necessary to list these simple things. (This doesn't mean we can put ourselves on the high-horse, though, modern America). But the English's sloth wasn't all negative, though. WWII taught the English self-worth, and it came in the form of detaching their enjoyment from socially wasteful and expensive activities. One could still participate in these activities as I stated previously, but WWII taught these individuals another avenue of enjoyment which lay within themselves, precipitated by the compulsive detoxification of their external dependence and superfluity. Ironically, the body in power which needed their money and resources indirectly taught them to be independent, which is never the lesson a government wants its citizens to truly understand.
Page 395: "You can see from this the way in which the mere necessity of war is bringing about in the English people a more creative attitude towards their amusements...They had to amuse themselves, so they improvised amateur concerts, which were sometimes surprisingly good and successful." This downtime also produced a greater interest in literature, good literature, because reading is free and progressively enjoyable. The more you read, the more you understand, and from there the sky's the limit on the level of enjoyment. Again, the English populace as a whole felt the stressor of the Third Reich, however some of the populace had to painfully detox and learn these basic lessons of self-empowerment and see how their dependence upon money and external reality was really a hollow and a weak moral trait, while others simply trimmed the fat they knew was fat and commenced modest self-made activities.
Since reading is progressive, people learn without knowing they're learning. It makes us smarter. Page 396: "But just because the habit of reading has vastly increased and people cannot read without educating themselves in the process, the average intellectual level of the books published has markedly risen." Readers affect writers because the art is a market, no matter what we may want to think. Art is often viewed as a subjective, independent phenomena which some are more sensitive to than others. Thank to Orwell, I can see the red herring in that criticism. The more people read, the more they improve, the more the culture's artistic IQ rises, which includes the writers. WWII caused a cultural shift in literature from mediocre to good, all because of the increase of reading on both private citizens' end, as well as the bored soldiers' end.
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