In his 1948 introduction to “British pamphleteers” – a collection of classic pamphlets ranging from John Milton to Jonathan Swift – George Orwell noted that the pamphlet was special because it was inherently subversive.
“A pamphlet is a short piece of polemical writing aimed at a large public, it is written because there is something that one wants to say now, and because one believes there is no other way of getting a hearing.
“A pamphlet may be written either ‘for’ or ‘against’ somebody or something, but in essence it is always a protest.”
Orwell continued, “If one had not a certain faith in democracy, one would not write political pamphlets, one would try to get one’s end by intriguing among influential people.”
Accordingly, “pamphleteering will flourish when there is some great struggle”.
There are signs that today the lost revolutionary art of pamphleteering may well be making a welcome return, albeit not quite in a form Orwell ever imagined.
It strikes me that the recent explosion of political “blogging” – resulting from the development of new technology which allows anyone with internet access to freely publish their thoughts online on a weblog – may well be ushering in another great “age of pamphleteering”.
The significance of the rise of blogging is often overstated, but the rapidity of its rise in popularity remains remarkable. Technorati, a blog search engine, tracked 100,000 blogs at the start of 2003, and today, two years on, it is estimated there are over 65 million.
Link via Histomatist