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Politics and the English Language-Orwell

  • 21-04-2003 12:06am
    Closed Accounts Posts: 1,489 ✭✭✭

    with the ammount of "buzzwords" being bandied around on the politics board at the moment i thought this was an intresting article,written by George Orwell some 50+ years ago as relevent today as it was then.

    Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except insofar as it signifies ``something not desirable.'' The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.

    Political language--and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists---is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase---some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse---into the dustbin where it belongs.

    Read and Discuss ;)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,105 ✭✭✭Tyrrial

    thats really interesting. i like his style

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,712 ✭✭✭Praetorian

    It is a very interesting article and most of it is relevant even today.

    “The word Fascism has now no meaning except insofar as it signifies ``something not desirable”

    This is a misconception. It really depends on the individuals comprehension of the word. For example, when I think of the word fascism, I tend to think of the dictionary definition. The word does mean, a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government. Some people will instantly associate “fascism” as being “something not desirable”, but not all people.

    Buzzwords might make an interesting thread title. I will investigate.