People sleep peaceably

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell

PG Note: Colleen just informed PG that this post showed seven comments, but she couldn’t see any of them.

When PG popped the TPV hood open, he found seven spam comments that WordPress and/or one or more of PG’s installed plugins had counted as legitimate, despite the fact that the comments had been sent to spam hell where nobody could see them.

PG will assure one and all that nothing about the spam comments would interest them, unless they’re longing to interact with sexy Russian girls online or desire to have some malware installed on their computer.

PG will keep an eye on this plugin to see if it needs to be replaced and thanks Colleen for pointing out the problem for him.

14 thoughts on “People sleep peaceably”

  1. Let’s see how this is tallied. 🙂

    Orwell was (properly) thinking of soldiers but the list of underappreciated pillars of civilization includes the police and firefighters whose 24/7 vigils watch are essential, as currently demonstrated in the pennypinching cities.

  2. As the other comments make clear, our “sleeping peaceably” depends on a whole host of individuals who quietly go about the business of keeping our complicated, highly interdependent and – I at times fear – inherently fragile societies running. However, as Felix implies, the reference to men who “stand ready to do violence” indicates that Orwell was talking specifically about the armed forces (and maybe the police, but in the British context this is less likely to come to mind).

    However, there is the normal problem with such quotations, in that Orwell does not seem to have ever actually said this. According to Quote Investigator there is no substantive evidence that George Orwell made this remark, and the earliest known version is in a 1993 newspaper column by essayist Richard Grenier who wrote “As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

    So not an Orwell quotation but a writer’s summary of Orwell’s opinions. In his essay on nationalism Orwell did say, when referring to pacifists, that “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf” and that this is “grossly obvious if one’s emotions do not happen to be involved”. And writing about Kipling – of whom he had strongly critical views – we get the Orwell’s approval (quoting Tommy) “It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, ‘making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep’” which is an earlier and more bitter take on the idea of the supposed quotation.

    And Kudos to Colleen for telling PG about the “7 comments” problem. I noticed – and even puzzled over why I couldn’t find these comments – but was too lazy to email PG about the problem.

  3. To come full circle, without those “rough men who stand ready to do violence on their behalf,” practitioners of all those other professions, essential as they are, would not be able to to what they do. They work behind a wall guarded by those rough men and women.

    I’ve always focused on the “on their behalf” part of the statement. “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night” without having done their bit (or anything at all) to secure the ability to do so. Others have sacrificed everything “on their behalf.”

    • The way things are headed, the hard folks are going to be needed very soon in many places at once. With Russia seriously hurt in Ukraine, everywhere they’ve been meddling in fair game.

      The first shoe already dropped in Armenia.
      Syria is next.
      Moldova will probably follow with Georgia after that and the various african tribes relying on russian mercenaries are about to see how long they can keep up their fights on their own.
      Down the road if things get really bad in Russia, Finland is probably first in line.
      And next month the window opens for China to move on Taiwan.

      Lost of sleepless nights coming all over.
      (If Tom Clancy’s ghosts were doing a modern RED STORM RISING, now would be the time.)

  4. I recently learned about the “Gap Year.” This is a year after high school and before college where kids get to know themselves and reflect on something.

    Yesterday a major water main broke about a block from the house. Today a neighbor was complaining about 1) the lack of water and, 2) all those guys out there all night making so much noise. I suspect she had a gap year.

    • That can be a bad – or good – thing. Depends.

      Two of mine took a “gap” year, but they worked during it. The older one did go to community college after realizing that university would be too expensive for what she wanted to have “credentials” for. Ended up with two Associates degrees.

      The other is only considering going to college now, after several years. Probably for a BSBM. He’s worked all this time, and joined the Marine Corps Reserve after the first “gap” year. Sergeant now, currently off leading a platoon for this month’s drill. (Nice – even though he’s moved 100+ miles away, we get to see him for at least a few hours every month.)

      • Many years ago I went all through college and grad school on the GI bill from my time in the USMC. (I was classified 1A in my gap year.) When I mention this benefit, kids appear interested, but their parents are horrified.

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