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There is a long history of those who, in their youth, marched and proclaimed with the radical left, but then, as the years went by, underwent a transition to become allied with the political right.

Among the Romantic poets, both Wordsworth and Coleridge saw the French Revolution of 1798 as a new dawn, heralding fresh ways of constructing society. Their hopes ended in reactionary disillusion.

In the twentieth century, Oswald Mosley was notable for having thrown in his lot as an MP within the Labour party of Ramsay MacDonald. Then, out of impatience with what he saw as indecision and incompetence, he set up his own short-lived New party to try to attract like-minded active radicals before eventually founding the British Union of Fascists to take the political arguments on to the streets.

Reasons have been various for such drifts to the right with deeply committed personalities. Among writers, George Orwell was accused of deserting the collective cause of the left when he took, in his later writings, to defending the individual against the power of the centralised state, a move prompted by what he had seen during the Spanish Civil War when the Moscow-backed communists turned on the other left factions and tried to destroy them.

Christopher Hitchens | Naim Attallah Online
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