Friday, June 25, 2010

Just as the clock was striking thirteen

George Orwell was born on this day in 1903. Because of his novels 1984 and Animal Farm and other works, his name became an adjective (Orwellian) describing a state of society antithetical and inimical to freedom, and buttressed by the misuse of language.

In 1984 Orwell invented an ultra-fascist state which kept an iron grip on the reins of language. WAR IS PEACE is one of it slogans.

Orwell also invented the terms doublespeak and doublethink. Today, some of the most successful politicians are those who have mastered both of those arts.

"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought," Orwell said.

The use of the word "fascist" itself is an example of how language can corrupt political thought. Those who label Barack Obama a fascist are surely igorant of the real conditions of a fascist state.

"It would seem that, as used, the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless," Orwell wrote. "In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, youth hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I don't know what else."

For more about Orwell

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