George OrwellGeorge Orwell, [Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950) British author

George Orwell Quote

“That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

George OrwellGeorge Orwell
~ George Orwell

Orwell: The Authorized Biography, Michael Shelden, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991), p. 328

Ratings and Comments

David L Rosenthal

About 100,000 die every year in the USA due to physicians' accidents or mistakes, but we do not ban doctors. The number of deaths related to alcohol abuse is many times greater than the number of accidental gun deaths, but we don't ban alcohol. People kill people.

Mike, Norwalk

Literally, a gun as the symbol of a democracy is to tout: 'might makes right'; and the individual has no rights; and the overpowering system of government is not of law, but of mob rule. If Mr. Orwell meant a free and moral (as defined by the Christ) Representative Republic I would have been here limited to only a five star rating.

Michael, Houston, TX

You know David...they are just not going to get it! That is why liberalism is the political and spiritual equivalent of leaves you with no defenses at all...not physical or moral or even the will to do Nick Berg's father. Gracious. That is why they must be beaten and never allowed power. Frankly, I have more intelligent conversations with my 10 year old grandson whom I expect to be an adolescent. He will grow out of it though I am sure.

P.M., KS
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P.M., KS    8/22/06

Going to have to agree with Mike here.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Democracy is mob rule. The gun on the wall of the working man is the perfect symbol for democracy which is all about might makes right. The gun in the hands of a well regulated (i.e. well ordered, well behaved) militia is the symbol of a representative republic.

E Archer, NYC

3 stars because the word 'democracy' is used, but I am not a stickler for the correct use of the word 'republic' instead. Democracy or not, the man controling the trigger is an individual. All of us should be trained in the use of weapons and the various arts of defense in order to exercise our very necessary right (and dare I say responsibility) to be a ready member of the local militia.

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RKV    2/22/07

"Political power comes from the barrel of a gun" Mao Tse-tung

warren, olathe

The sentiment here is that when the guns are gone then freedom and democracy quickly follow the guns. Orwell was quite aware of the intentions of the left.

RAE, Fort Wilderness

A lot of absurd hairsplitting on the difference between "representative democracy" and direct democracy is going on here. The bottom line is this: THERE MUST BE A LAST LINE OF DEFENSE IN CASE THE "GOVERNMENT," HOWEVER DEFINED, ATTEMPTS TO ABANDON ITSELF TO DICTATORIAL RULE. INDIVIDUALS WITH GUNS ARE THAT LAST LINE OF DEFENSE. Do any of you geniuses know the warning statement built into Declaration of Independence regarding the so-called "mob psychology" alluded to by some of the commentators here? Our Founding Fathers feared most the COMPLACENCY of the "mob" and not a "might makes right" mob running amok: “. . . all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms [of governmental abuses and usurpations] to which they are accustomed.” Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 Think long and hard on that quote. Ask yourself if we, as a people today, are more prone to participate in politics like an impulsive "might makes right" mob or like a lethargic, bovine, helpless, complacent herd of followers who can barely muster enough fight to stand up to politicians who would ram ridiculously self-destructive "anti-gun" laws down our throats. It is a good thing that a strong-hearted vocal minority still fights for the Second Amendment in this country, or we all would have been doomed decades ago.

Tom, Barcelona

Intrigued by the difference some people assume exists between a republic and a democracy. A republic is a form of democratic government. Could this be actually a conflation in peoples' minds of the ideas of Republic/Republican and Democracy/Democratic? Orwell's thinking was probably right, at the time (and considering that he was writing about the UK, not the USA).

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Alex    3/25/09

That's true indeed... just to throw in some Gandhi also: "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." Ciao Alex

Chris, Calgary

I don't understand so-called leftists or socialists argue against the right to bear and keep arms. Marx, Engels, and even Lenin were in favour of this right because they believed it would give working mass more chance to effectively fight tyrants.

Paul Waters, Montreal

In a well ordered republic -- as in a democracy -- the state should have nothing to say about what I hang on my wall, whether it's a rifle or poster of Che Guevera..

LDM, Montreal

I'd like to remind that Orwell was a socialist. And yes he was quite right: he had seen what the spanish people could do with that rifle on the wall, even faced with the might of three fascist dictators. Long live the 15th Brigade, long live the POUM, long live anarchist catalonia.

Ian McKenna, Londonistan, UK

Orwell's rifle on the wall was for the defence of freedom, against might-is-right fascists who seek to impose their will.

J Carlton, Calgary

Mike, Norwalk...this would be the first time we've disagreed...I don't believe that fire power in the hands of honest citizens equates to might makes right. It equates to "we are sovereigns with unalienable rights that we can enforce."

E Archer, NYC

Carlton, Mike probably just doesn't like the word 'democracy' in the sentence -- substitute it with 'liberty' and it would be better.

Anonymous, Wichita,KS

Funny, how most of my fellow Americans who have commented here neglect to mention that Orwell was a Socialist. And yes he meant democracy not republic because that's what he fought for in the Spanish Civil War.

J Carlton, Calgary

That would make more sense Archer. The right to self defense in the face of crime or tyranny can't help but be a good thing.

Michael, Richmond, Virginia

@ Michael, Houston, TX

I wholeheartedly agree with Orwell but I hate to brake it to you Michael but Orwell was a leftist. He actually was what you try and label liberals in the U.S. Orwell actually was a socialist. No liberals in the U.S. actually advocate for socialism no matter what you may think. They are ardent capitalists. The only difference is that they have a different approach regarding government and the economy. That may come as a shock to you but get over it. The truth hurts. I actually am a socialist and I despise American liberals.


Carlton and Archer, I made a distinction between a democracy and a republican form of government. A taken care of functioning rifle on the wall of a working-class flat is a most basic symbol that liberty is associated to the nobility of life (a most raw symbol of self-preservation).

Michael from Richmond; I hope you didn't hate to brake anything to me (if that was your reference) concerning Orwell. It is very well known that he was a leftist. You would have to give your definition (with examples) of socialism and how Amerikan liberals would not qualify in the scope of your understanding for your statement to carry any credibility. I have written here on this blog many times what socialism is - it you like I can do it again.

jim k, Austin

10 Stars if possible.

Ronw13, Oregon

How is that " democratic process " working now in the UK ? Considering it is only a process. Seems the indoctrination of socialism blinds the feeble minds of laziness who wish not to think for themselves concerning defining oneself in light of Truth, knowledge, understanding, and of the natural world provided by our Creator who has endowed the USA with The Stance on Liberty and Freedom ordained by God, that is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.


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