The New Newspeak
I mentioned as we got up how NPR's lead stories were not "news" at all. They led with "Sec. of Defence Gates saying that he might agree that continued reductions of troops in Iraq might not continue". Huh?
There were no numbers in the story at all. I didn't even know that there were reductions. I do know that the US doesn't have the manpower to maintain the surge highs. I guess the news story that we are bombing Baghdad neighborhoods with B1 bombers isn't worth the mention.
Next was Cokie Roberts with some commentary about Obama and his momentum from the weekend. But there was no mention of actual delegates earned or that he is now clearly in the lead in earned delegates.
It all reminded me of Orwell's Newspeak. According to Wikipedia:
Newspeak is the fictional languare in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the novel, it is described as being "the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year." Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar.
This suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking ("thoughtcrime") or speech impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on.
One character says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."
The underlying theory of Newspeak is that if something can't be said, then it can't be thought. One question raised in response to this is whether we are defined by our language, or whether we actively define it. For instance, how can we communicate the need for freedom, or organize an uprising, if we do not have the words for either?
Examples of Newspeak, from the novel, include: "crimethink"; "doubleplusungood"; and "Ingsoc" .They mean, respectively: "thought-crime"; "extremely bad"; and "English Socialism", the official political philosophy of the Party. "
And that leads me to David Rossies piece on political definitions:
"What the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's mythical land of Oceania did to the language in 1984 the far right in American politics has tried, with considerable success, to do in 21st century America with the consent, and in some cases, assistance of the news media.
Two terms best illustrate the right's skillful manipulation of the language: liberal and conservative.
There was a time, difficult as it may be to believe, that liberal was not a pejorative term. In fact it stood for much if not all that was socially and politically admirable. That tradition lives on in the dictionary, if nowhere else. (clip)
Now, "A liberal, far from embodying all of the admirable qualities mentioned above, becomes a do-gooder bent on wasting money on people as unworthy as he is. Far from being a defender of democracy and freedom, he is an agent bent on undermining those ideals. "
And how does the dictionary define conservative? Try this: "Conserving or tending to conserve; preservative." And: "Tending to preserve established traditions or institutions." And: "moderate, cautious."
And, "What's not conservative about turning a national wildlife refuge into an oil field or national monuments into mines? What's not conservative about putting insurance companies' and HMOs' interests above those of the people they insure? And what's not conservative about lifting restrictions of air and water pollution if those restrictions inconvenience the people who have bankrolled your party into power? "
But even in the days of OldSpeak, the language was tilted towards the conservative view. Progressives sit on "the left", conservatives on "the right". The left is "gauche".
Just then, NPR opened with the six who will be tried now for 911, after six years of torture. It was on the front page this morning above the fold.
Yet, we don't wonder how Building 7 managed to fall, or how that big jet went into that little hole in the Pentagon without a trace.
We've developed a New Newspeak that is unspeakably more subtle and controlling than Orwell's version. Our Newspeak establishes frames that serve as hypnagogic landscapes that dominate our thinking like a black snow. There is no color, there is only this gray realm where thoughts have become the docile creatures of mono culture.
Even this morning's story on climate change in Costa Rica ended with the need for fossil fuels because of, you got it, climate change.
It would make you dizzy,
if you still had an inner ear.
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