Why Hitchens up on my masthead? Because he was a free man, like Eric Blair before him. Few of us have the courage to face unpleasant facts.
‘Facing it — ’ as Captain MacWhirr says so memorably in Joseph Conrad’s ‘Typhoon’,‘always facing it — that’s the way to get through.’
‘I knew,’ said Orwell in 1946 about his early youth, ‘that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.’ Not the ability to face them, you notice, but ‘a power of facing’. It’s oddly well put.
A commissar who realizes that his five-year plan is off-target and that the people detest him or laugh at him may be said, in a base manner, to be confronting an unpleasant fact. So, for that matter, may a priest with ‘doubts’. The reaction of such people to unpleasant facts is rarely self-critical; they do not have the ‘power of facing’. Their confrontation with the fact takes the form of an evasion; the re-action to the unpleasant discovery is a re-doubling of efforts to overcome the obvious.
The ‘unpleasant facts’ that Orwell faced were usually the ones that put his own position or preference to the test. (Christopher Hitchens – Why Orwell Matters)