“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
When Animal Farm was published in 1945 soon after Germany surrendered, all but one publisher had rejected the book as critical of regimes like the Soviet Union, an ally during the war. Four years later we get Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the term Newspeak was created. George Orwell clearly showed that he was an unrelenting advocate for free speech and a foe of authoritarianism and censorship.
The accusations that he was not any of those things because he was a socialist were an ignorant evaluation of the man. While he readily admitted to being a socialist in his early life, clearly from his own writings it’s apparent that he came to see the contradiction socialism had with his ideals. This is evident in his 1944 review in the Observer of F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom when he wrote, “By bringing the whole of life under the control of the State, Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stop at nothing in order to retain it.” His late life remark that in all politics “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.” clearly illustrates where his intellectual development was headed; unfortunately, he tragically died from tuberculosis at age 46 in 1950, denying us more of his eloquently insightful novels.
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four portrayed a dystopian society ruled by “Big Brother”, whose control over the populace was via the distortion of language he called Newspeak. So ubiquitous did this term become that it is described now in most dictionaries as “…propagandistic language that is characterized by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings, and is the deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public.” Which brings us to our own “Age of Newspeak”; here are some examples.
While predating Orwell, few examples top FDR’s Newspeak rationale behind the 1933 confiscation of American citizen’s gold as a measure to benefit them; actually, it was in order to remove the constraint on the Federal Reserve in increasing the money supply as the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 required 40% gold backing of Federal Reserve Notes. In other words, FDR illegally expanded the money supply for his New Deal policies by pulling off the greatest gold heist in history.
Truman’s Newspeak that the use of the atomic bombs, contrary to all human decency and the advice of his military leaders, would save both American and Japanese lives, was actually a justification for a war crime, making the US the only country to date to use nuclear weapons on defenseless civilians. Truman again, on a Newspeak presidential directive involved America in a “Police Action”, which is what he called the Korean War. That Newspeak sidestepped the constitutional requirement of Congress being the only branch of government to authorize war; it set the precedent for Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq twice and a multitude of other lesser war crimes. In fact, the last time Congress actually declared war was during WWII. Yes, Newspeak can be deadly.
You really have to hand clever monetary Newspeak to President Richard Nixon, who truly deserves the nick name “Tricky Dick”. While he can be overshadowed on a criminal level by FDR, his reasons for eliminating the gold standard all together were to address the country’s inflation problems. Imagine, creating a purely fiat currency was sold as an inflation fighting measure!
The “Affordable Care Act” was a clever piece of Newspeak as it did not have an affordable outcome but caused health care insurance premiums to double. While the egregious mandate was declared unconstitutional and removed, the lesser known result was the elimination of all but four of the largest insurers with the administrative burdens government concocted, obviating competitive choices.
The 9/11 Terrorists Attacks resulted in the longest war in US history in Afghanistan, another military action without a Congressional declaration of war, and directed at the wrong country; it was Saudi Arabia who financed and manned the attack. We followed up on this error by passing “The Patriot Act”, a dangerous piece of Newspeak considering its unconstitutional violations of civil liberties.
The end game manipulation of US currency is QE (Quantitative Easing), a piece of Newspeak meant to disguise corporate welfare; it’s the genesis of our current inflationary dilemma, which took this long to manifest itself because the “Financial Crisis of 2008” caused the deepest and longest recession in US history, known as “The Great Recession”, because Newspeak no longer allows the word “depression”.
The COVID Pandemic was not the “crisis” Newspeak claimed. The statistic that one million people died of COVID over the 2 ½ year period of the pandemic is inaccurate as the data audited shows a growing proportion as having died “with COVID” versus “from COVID”. Taking that statistic at face value would represent a .30% death rate, compared to .55% for cancer or .53% for heart disease. The draconian mania of public officials with lockdowns destroyed our economy together with the monetary and fiscal irresponsibility that followed with QE Phase…what number are we up to?
Despite the horrendous damage to our currency and economy, the Biden administration is pushing for ever more spending plans, the latest entitled the “Inflation Reduction Act”. First we were told that inflation is transitory, and then that there isn’t a recession; such mind numbing Newspeak as we face record high energy and food costs loses any pretense of sincerity and leaves us frustrated with the tone deafness and callous disregard of reality.
The gem of recent Newspeak is the “The Disinformation Governance Board”, a perfect example of what Orwell was cautioning against in Nineteen Eighty-Four with the “Ministry of Truth”. Encouragingly, there was such an outcry that the board has been “paused”; hopefully this horrible dystopian idea will be eliminated permanently.
Unfortunately we still have the never ending Congressional hearings demanding that social media “monitor against disinformation”, which apparently many are, creating a proxy censorship as the constitution blocks the government from doing so directly. This development is most concerning, seeking to eliminate what once was the town hall of America.
As universities and other institutions fall prey to the culture war against free speech, which is now called a tool of oppression (an ultimate example of Newspeak) we need to understand that the greatest protection for liberty lies with the America people, not our government. Hopefully Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which has often been banned in the US, becomes mandatory reading in all school curricula.