Language, Politics

David Neiwert’s excellent essay, Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis is now up at, with photos! (NB See my own post on Fascism.) One of the points he makes is about the extent to which Orwellian Newspeak has come to be the norm for contemporary political debate, especially under the Bush administration:

Newspeak permeates the political environment right now. The core agenda of the Bush administration, mouthed by a hundred talking heads on cable TV, is now neatly summed up by two of the core truisms of Newspeak:

“War is peace.” [The purpose of the Iraq war, and the War on Terror generally, is to ensure peace and security at home, we are told.] 

  “Ignorance is strength.” [Consider the way Bush’s fumbled syntax and express anti-intellectualism is integral to his crafted image of homespun integrity.] 
    Newspeak serves two functions:
    1) It deflates the opposition by nullifying its defining issues, and throws the nominal logic of the public debate into disarray.
    2) It provides rhetorical and ontological cover for its speakers’ own activities and agenda.
    Is it possible to fight back against Newspeak? A new web site thinks it is. <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', '']);" ></a> has launched a site which declares: &#8220;They&#8217;re our words, dammit!&#8221;
      Marketers, politicians and other short-sighted, self-interested, sticky-fingered people have been stealing our words. Not only do they take them for commercial purposes, but they misuse them entirely. They&#8217;re Word Pirates and we&#8217;re going to take back what&#8217;s rightfully ours.
    To be honest, the site seems to be a little too &#8220;democratic&#8221; and lacking in editorial input to ever really go anywhere. It is too easy to mix together words that have been used by those in power to hide that power with words that those who have been oppressed have tried to reclaim. This is what is done in the <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'Newspeak Dictionary']);" >Newspeak Dictionary</a>, an awfully designed site that emphasizes fancy scripting over content and usablility, and which equates &#8220;Affirmative Action&#8221; with &#8220;Racial Discrimination&#8221;. But I do like some of the entries over at Word Pirates. Here is one good user submission on &#8220;<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'Democracy']);" >Democracy</a>&#8220;:
      &#8220;Democracy&#8221; is defined, according to Chambers, as &#8220;a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people collectively, and is administered by them or by officers appointed by them.&#8221; It is pirated to mean a &#8220;pseudo-democratically elected temporary dictatorship&#8221; where once a vote is conned out of voters via deception, lies and empty promises, the newly empowered body then sets about implementing it&#8217;s own agenda, and those of it&#8217;s corporate sponsors and partners [see &#8220;Fascism&#8221;] via deceit of those it falsely claims to represent. It continues thusly until the subsequent election whereupon bribery, via tax-cuts, is commonly used to further the temporary misuse of power; a succession of con-tricks and deceptions and abuse of power, so long as once there was a &#8220;vote&#8221; involved.
    Hopefully if enough users submit good content the site will succeed.
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