The Left has always understood the importance of controlling the language. For most people Orwell’s 1984 was a dire warning of the dangers of totalitarianism. For leftists it’s been more of a how-to manual. And they recognised that Newspeak was the key. If you control the language you control the political debate.
Today Newspeak dominates the western world. The Left has been remarkably successful in persuading us to accept neutral or feel-good words for evil deeds, and emotionally loaded threatening words for perfectly normal behaviour and perfectly reasonable beliefs.
This is something that needs to challenged, and challenged vigorously.
Take the term pro-choice. It sounds very positive, but in fact it would be far more accurate to describe the pro-choice movement as the pro-death movement.
In Australia we have largely accepted the use of the term asylum seekers for people who are simply illegal immigrants. They are not victims, they are criminals.
We accept the use of the term “pro-democracy activists” for Islamic extremists whose aim is to turn every state in the Arab world into a medieval theocracy. The example of Egypt is telling. Airheads like Jimmy Carter might object that the results of the Egyptian election represent a triumph for democracy. The reality is that anyone who believes that the Islamists, once firmly established in power, will tolerate any of the features we associate with democracy – freedom of speech, dissent, open debate, a free press – is living in cloud cuckoo land.
When racism is practised by whites it is labelled as racism. When whites are the victims it is called diversity. Or social justice. When women face discrimination it is labelled sexism. When men face discrimination it is described as affirmative action.
The classic example is the word liberal. It sounds so wholesome. It suggests tolerance, open-mindedness and freedom. Can you see any evidence that modern liberals believe is any of these things?
Orwell also understood that once the language is controlled the next step is the rewriting of history. This is already well under way. But the Left today is more subtle than Big Brother. Sometimes you don’t need to alter the facts. All you need to do is to alter some key words, and give things a slight twist. So today most people believe that the Nazis and the Fascists were right-wing extremists. But in fact the party Hitler belonged to was the National Socialist Party. Mussolini always regarded himself as a socialist. The reason the National Socialists and the Bolsheviks hated each other was the same reason the Communists and Trotskyists hated each other. They represented competing strands of socialism. And nothing is more vicious than a quarrel within a family.
Unless we can begin to wrest back control of the language from the Left we are doomed to lose every political struggle.