9 Famous Thinkers Who Were Total Hypocrites

If you think "hypocrite" is too strong a word for the people on this list, keep in mind that we're all hypocrites, in a way. Even the most fierce animal rights activist may really love the leather shoes some poor cow made possible. We're all human, and that's also true for the famous thinkers and activists below.

So we're not saying these people are all liars or that their books should be tossed in the garbage. It's just interesting to see how the human mind works.

#9. George Orwell Teamed Up With Big Brother to Defeat Communism


If you know George Orwell for anything, it's probably Animal Farm and 1984, two novels that ripped the Soviet Union for their large and intrusive government, propaganda programs, surveillance, and lack of freedom of thought. His biting satire gave us terms like "Big Brother," "Cold War," and "thought police" and showed us a horrifying world in which you have to believe what the state tells you to, and if you dare to object, you might get dobbed by your best friend.

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"Just admit that Picard is better."
"Go to hell."

The Contradiction:

Orwell should have added an addendum to his philosophy: You're free to believe in whatever you want, as long as it's not communism. That's not hypocritical per se, but as the Cold War raged on, Orwell's fear of the red menace grew to the extent that he put on his own thought policeman's cap and started reporting suspected commie sympathizers to the British government.

In 1948, Britain decided to form a secret government organization called the Information Research Department (IRD), whose goal was to spread anti-communist propaganda. Orwell not only supported this organization, but agreed to work as an informer for them. A year before he died, Orwell provided the IRD with a list of the names of dozens of writers and researchers whom he thought might be "crypto-communist," basing his judgment on everything from opinions they might have held to whether they were homosexual or Jewish.

He barely managed to dodge the lightning bolt that came out of the sky after typing "insincere person."

In other words, the man who coined the term "Big Brother" was an instrumental part of Britain's own McCarthy-style communist hunt. Although the system that Orwell helped put together wasn't exactly Orwellian (it didn't lead to any arrests or, as far as we know, extended visits to a room without windows), it's nevertheless doubleplus ironic that his anti-propaganda novels were later used as propaganda by the IRD that funded and distributed them across different countries.

#8. John Lennon Was Down With the IRA

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John Lennon will always be remembered, along with Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as one of those people who called for an end to violence and wound up having their own point made for them by the people who shot them to death.

Perhaps the greatest monument to the hippie peace movement, Lennon wrote countless songs about an idealistic world without war and violence, and he once staged a protest with his wife Yoko Ono in which they refused to get out of bed until world peace had been achieved (for some reason, it didn't work).

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Partially because the visual of them in bed was considered mental warfare.

The Contradiction:

Lennon did have one exception to his whole "no war" rule, however, and that was his partiality to the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group that likes to settle their issues by blowing random people to bits with nail bombs.

Don't get us wrong -- in the conflict between the IRA and Britain, the British don't exactly have clean hands. In 1972, the British Army was being harshly chastised for shooting 12 unarmed people at a protest, an event that became known as Bloody Sunday. No one outside of Ireland was quite as outraged as Lennon, though, who not only wrote about it in the songs "Luck of the Irish" and the non-U2 version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," but also was quoted as saying, "If it's a choice between the British Army and the IRA, I'm with the IRA."

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"I am the phallus, doo doo d'douche."

Of course, Lennon never wrote any songs called "Ouch I Lost My Legs in a Belfast Restaurant," which may reveal that he had some bias in his no-violence rule. A few years ago, a former IRA member told the Guardian that he'd met with Lennon in New York to discuss the possibility of Lennon performing a show in Ireland to raise money for the IRA. The spanner in the works was that at the time the Nixon administration was trying real hard to throw his ass out of the United States due to Lennon's lack of a hard-on for the Vietnam War. Lennon was afraid that if he left, he might not get back in again, so he stayed put and never said anything about the IRA again.

#7. Ronald Reagan Was a Rabble-Rousing Union Leader

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Ronald Reagan is the closest thing the right wing has to a superhero. To hear them talk, after being elected to the highest office in the land, Reagan rolled up both his conservative sleeves, destroyed the Soviet Union with one fist, and punched the U.S. economy back to life with the other. Reagan was a less-hippie version of Jesus who came to chew bubblegum and revitalize the conservative movement, and he was all out of bubblegum.

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The Alzheimer's forgetfulness signs always start out small.

Nothing better illustrates Reagan's no-bullshit conservatism than his stance on labor unions. When a bunch of punk-ass air traffic controllers went on strike for higher wages and shorter workweeks, Reagan warned those commie bastards that he would fire every single one of them who didn't put their ass directly in their seat and get back to work. And despite the possibility of causing an airline industry disaster, he followed through with his threat.

The Contradiction:

You probably know that Reagan is the only U.S. president to have started his career as a Hollywood actor, at least until Schwarzenegger gets sworn in. So how did he rise through the ranks to the presidency? Well, before he was president of the USA, he was president of the Screen Actors Guild, otherwise known as the American actors' union.

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"I'm sorry, but 'guild' and 'union' are two totally different words. Spelling and everything."

Back in 1937, Reagan arrived in Hollywood as just another amateur actor in search of a buck. He joined SAG in order to pick up some acting roles, but being that he was Ronald freakin' Reagan, he didn't do things by half measures -- 10 years later, he was elected president of the whole union. This position enabled him to pull off one of the greatest revolutions in union history. For background, it's common policy today for actors to receive residual payments, or a kind of royalties, when their movies are shown on television. Back in 1960, Hollywood was way more tight-fisted, so when SAG came around to ask for that money, they got an enthusiastic "Fuck off." Reagan decided to play hardball.

On March 7, 1960, Reagan and SAG caused the first industrywide strike in Hollywood history. Thousands of union men walked away from their gigs for the entire day, and the producers had to admit defeat. More than 50 years later, Hollywood's given out more than $7 billion in residuals to actors, all thanks to the Gipper. Later, Reagan would kick off his U.S. presidential campaign with a heartfelt endorsement of labor unions, a position that he seemed to hold right up until the moment they started asking him for shit.

Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"You want some bullshit? I can give you loads of that."

Which brings us to ...

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