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Seeing a man pilfering told me more than a dozen pamphlets

George Orwell tells us that the sight of a man pilfering food on a ship ‘taught me more than I could have learned from half-a-dozen socialist pamphlets’. It is a typical emotive, empty gesture, one which anticipates the approving marginal tick of the liberal reader. In fact, seeing a man pilfering food will tell you nothing about the causes of poverty, just as (so Brecht remarked) putting a factory on stage will tell you nothing about capitalism

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