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NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?

 
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NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
www.crisispapers.org/essays6p/newspeak.htm [link to www.crisispapers.org]

Newspeak and the Corruption of Politics


By Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor

The Crisis Papers

April 11, 2006


All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find ... that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

George Orwell (1946)
“Politics and the English Language"


Language is the constant yet unnoticed current that carries our thoughts. Thus, in the game of politics, the party which controls the language, controls the contest.

Newt Gingrich knows this, GOP strategist Frank Luntz knows this, and George Orwell, their apparent mentor, knew this.

So why don’t the Democrats know this?

I don’t mean to suggest that we are necessarily captive to the currents of language. Like a skilled navigator, one can factor the currents of language into the calculations of one’s judgment. But only if a person or a party takes the trouble to pause and take notice of the language.

Regrettably, the Democrats have not. For a party that is allegedly preferred by intellectuals, the Democrats have been tactically naïve and stupid, prisoners of their discredited habits. To be sure, astute scholars such as George Lakoff have offered the Democratic Party chiefs the key to their jail cells and have shown them the way out, but they have been told, in effect, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And Noam Chomsky is regarded as “too extreme” and an embarrassment. Never mind that he is the foremost linguist of our time.


Newspeak Lives!


In “The Principles of Newspeak,” an appendix to his novel, 1984, George Orwell wrote:


The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the [Party's] world-view and mental habits ... , but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought - that is, a thought diverging from the principles of [the Party] - should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words, and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings... Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought...


Orwell wrote this as a warning. The Right has apparently adopted it as its strategy. Thus we find “Newspeak” at work in Newt Gingrich’s self-explanatory memo, “Language as a Political Weapon.” And GOP strategist Frank Luntz has played the English language like Itzhak Perlman plays his Strad.


“Liberalism,” then and now.


Consider, for example, what the word-meisters of The Right have done to the word “liberal.”

Webster’s Dictionary gives us this traditional definition of “liberal:”


“From the latin, liberalis – of or pertaining to a freeman. Favoring reform or progress, as in religion, education, etc.; specifically, favoring political reforms tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual. Progressive.”


However, the right-wing screech merchants of AM radio and cable TV have turned the word “liberal” into an epithet, like a piece of rotten fruit to be hurled at the candidate or political commentator willing to be called a “liberal.” Remember the 2004 GOP ads? “Brie-eating, chardonnay-drinking, latte-sipping, French-speaking, Volvo-driving, New York Times reading, elite liberals.” The word connotes “tax and spend,” “welfare cheats,” bureaucratic interference in “free enterprise,” and a weak military. To Ann Coulter, it means nothing less than “treason.”

Thus it is no surprise that when pollsters ask the ordinary citizens to describe their political orientation, “conservative” comes out ahead, followed by “moderate,” with “liberal” a poor third.

And yet, when the same citizens are asked their opinions on Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection, public education, economic justice, racial tolerance, and the separation of church and state, by substantial majorities they endorse the traditional liberal agenda. In short, the American public remains liberal, even though it has been persuaded to despise and reject the word “liberal.” And that should be regarded as good news by The Left, for it is the ideology and the program that matter. "Liberal" is merely a word.


Recall the quotation from Orwell above:


“... a thought diverging from the principles of [the Party] - should be literally unthinkable... This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words, and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings...”


Now try to explain and defend the “liberal” ideas of Franklin Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, and the Kennedys. You can no longer do so simply by casually dropping the word Liberal" in conversation and debate. The word “liberal” has been spoiled by the relentless assault upon it by The Right, and thus today it has become useless and even harmful in ordinary discourse. In Orwell’s words, right-wing propaganda has succeeded in “eliminating” this “undesirable word,” “liberal,” thus making its original meaning simply “unthinkable.” And there is no word available yet to take its place. So what is the (old-definition) liberal to do? The remedy is simple: drop the word “liberal” and give the program a new name: “progressive.” Unfortunately, it will take some time for this new word for old ideas to take hold in the general population.

The Right has learned its lesson well from its mentor, George Orwell.


Who is a “Conservative.”


Imagine that you meet a visitor from abroad who is fluent in English and well acquainted with American history. However, he knows nothing about contemporary American politics and its rhetoric, and he is eager to learn about it.

You explain that there are two contending political ideologies:

One ideology is out to uproot the founding documents of our republic, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and take our society and economy back to the condition it was in over a hundred years ago. The other steadfastly endorses and defends those founding documents, and defends the gains in economic and social justice painfully obtained throughout the history of the American republic.

You then tell the visitor that one of these ideologies calls itself “conservative.” Which one would he reasonably conclude that you were referring to? If he selects the second, he is in agreement with Webster's, which thus defines “conservative:” “The practice of preserving what is established; disposition to oppose change in established institutions and methods.”

How then should one describe this first ideology, which advocates and strives to achieve a return to an earlier condition of the economy and society. Clearly “conservative” won’t do. How about “regressive.” That’s what I’ve chosen, and I urge that you do likewise. If the Democrats were to adopt “regressive” to describe the policies of the Republicans, and if they were to use the word “regressive” persistently in their publications, speeches, and media appearances, it might have a devastating effect on the GOP.

In fact, “liberal vs. conservative” is a false dichotomy. It is possible to be both, and indeed a thoughtful progressive is both. Janus-like, the progressive looks both backward and forward in time: backward, by cherishing and preserving the priceless legacies of the past; and forward, identifying injustices to be set right and anticipating problems that must be faced and dealt with.

Accordingly, the progressive should never refer to his opponents on the right as “conservatives.”


Doublespeak.

[link to www.crisispapers.org]

Last Edited by Phennommennonn on 09/16/2011 02:46 PM
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nemesis online
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04/11/2006 01:55 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
This is true, however fiction flaunted as fact is still fiction, no matter how language is manipulated and arguments are presented.

Therefore, their collective "speak" is cheap, and most realize this now.
Miscreant

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04/11/2006 01:56 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
Fiction is just as truthful as fact. It's all in the presentation and intent.
99.999% of what affects our reality will be undetectable by our senses. Man must learn to think for himself rather than follow blindly what he has been taught.

-Buckminster Fuller
BUSH MUST GO (OP)

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04/11/2006 01:57 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
nemesis online, User ID: 80301: "most realize this now"


I'm not so optimistic.


nemesis online, User ID: 80301: "fiction flaunted as fact is still fiction, no matter how language is manipulated and arguments are presented."


I don't think that can be applied to all fiction, say, the likes of Orwell's '1984' or Huxley's 'Brave New World', et al, as Miscreant points out.
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nemesis online
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04/11/2006 02:07 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
Chin up BMG because the theory is that language is merely a system control>

However, what they fail to realize is that language itself is a system upon which all other systems are bound (mathematics is a language too). Once that system is corrupted, which it is, you either watch helplessly as the system destroys itself, or you are forced to create a new system.

Is this what has you down?
nemesis online
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04/11/2006 02:14 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
BMG if you are saying that fiction can mirror reality, in that sense becoming factual, then I agree. Perhaps that's the measure of great fiction.

However, I would not want to base my control structure and illusion of power on a system that is inherently flawed because it will, eventually, cave in.
BUSH MUST GO (OP)

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04/11/2006 02:26 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
I understand what you mean about language, 80301. (Believe me, even though I struggled with Wittgenstein [link to en.wikipedia.org] LOL he eventually made a lot of sense.)

As for, "fiction can mirror reality, in that sense becoming factual", yes, that is what I meant and, I agree, the mark of great fiction.

I have no doubt the power system will cave in. They always have. It's when, as well as what will replace it, that concerns me.

Thought I'd clarify now that I have a better idea of where you're coming from, 80301.

BMG
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Miscreant

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04/11/2006 02:28 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
OMG BMG, I was tempted to reference Wittgenstein too, but didn't know how to explain his musings without derailing the thread.

Just a little syncronicity in action.
99.999% of what affects our reality will be undetectable by our senses. Man must learn to think for himself rather than follow blindly what he has been taught.

-Buckminster Fuller
AC
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04/11/2006 02:32 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
I am always struck by the use of war imagery that permeates all republican language.

war on this, war on that, are obvious choices they use, but also, they talk about battles, skirmishes, duels, etc.

listen, and you'll hear it too.
BUSH MUST GO (OP)

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04/11/2006 02:33 PM
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Re: NEWSPEAK & THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS: THE PARTY WHICH CONTROLS LANGUAGE CONTROLS THE CONTEST - ORWELL KNEW. THE GOP KNOWS. WHY NOT THE DEMS?
In-class quizzes on Ludwig decades ago still appear in my nightmares, Miscreant. Meanwhile, I had no problems with, say, Existentialism. LOL

Addendum: I've found war language throughout the business world the past several decades, as well, 3099. Perhaps it's an ingredient of (ultra-)Capitalism; i.e. one 'winner' eventually holding all the pieces?
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