A Journal for Western Man




Orwell's Warning:


G. Stolyarov II

Issue XII- April 16, 2003


This essay is the third in a series designed to dissect the totalitarian mentality portrayed in George Orwell's 1984 and to draw parallels to trends in modern academia and the sociopolitical arena of today. The following is an index of previous portions of this commentary:
1. Collectivism
2. Antiprogressivism

3. Relativism
5. Popular Culture

6. Newspeak - You are here. Read on to continue your analysis of this topic.

Nevertheless, continuous expenditures of resources for the purpose of maintaining popular complicity would seem a time drain on the Witch Doctor mechanism. It is fitting to recall what Mr. O'Brien had revealed concerning the final conditions which would enable to oligarchy to become "immortal." There would remain no need for even the "art," "literature," and "entertainment" presently serving as indoctrination tools. There would exist automatic slavery as a result of a deeper cultural presence grounded in the fundamental principles of Ingsoc. Yet, for this, a revolution of the basic perceptive mechanisms of the human being would be a necessary precursor.
The most common form of ideological communication between human beings is, as common sense would suggest, language. Both in spoken and written form, it is a requirement for the transmission of any manner of learning, be it a matter of fact or mere opinion. The English language during the era of Mr. Orwell possessed a wide variety of terms with extensive backgrounds and various "shades of meaning," even among synonyms, to enable expression of contrary thoughts and, therefore, a level of divergence essential to a free society. English, in the size of its vocabulary, had been the most complex of all languages. Such a vast availability of words enabled more detailed philosophical explorations, seeking to fathom the objective reality with the aid of specific word definitions, grounded in the external to serve as gateways between individual perception and the absolute. In early twentieth-century Britain progressive values such as capitalism, expansionism, technology, Lockean individual rights, Classical arts, and the beginnings of meritocracy became widely embraced by the populace particularly because of the numerous linguistic connections with Absolute Reality. It was imperative for Mr. Orwell to have utilized such a resource in order to enlighten concerned thinkers with the anatomy of a threat which had loomed over his time and yet looms over ours. The author himself prefers to resort to writing styles and terminology of such a Golden Age for the precise purpose of evaluating oligarchy under the light of truth, exposed to the radiance of which totalitarianism reveals both its ridiculous and harmful sides.

In the setting of 1984, however, when the Party had long prior become firmly instituted at the head of Oceania, the thinker's capacity for intelligent discourse was insufficient to empower him nor to preserve his ability to resist the bloated behemoth. In another several decades, according to the elite's calendar, such capacity would become eliminated altogether! This is due to the gradual imposition of a deliberately primitive mode of communication, the language Newspeak. Newspeak, as had been intellectually induced by one of the last remaining competent thinkers, Mr. Syme, is the only language upon the face of the Earth whose vocabulary shrinks, not grows, by the day. Words in Newspeak, instead of possessing specificity in their definitions and referring to single objects or aspects, expand their encompassed range and become as "loaded" as possible, in such a manner as to group into expressions evidently negative aspects with ambiguous or objectively positive ones, thus rendering all of the above negative, or to incorporate obviously positive characteristics into a term as well as ambiguous or absolutely immoral ones and render all of the above connotatively positive. The most striking example of this follows: "All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word 'crimethink', while all the words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word 'oldthink.'" (p. 251) Thus, in ordinary discourse the ideal citizen of Oceania would, through his terminology, be condemning to the level of crime the most basic rights of man not willfully, but because no alternative remains to him other than to state that "crimethink is good" or "oldthink is progressive" (that is, discounting the fact that any concept of progress is non-existent in pure Newspeak, as any word with any relation to "good" defines the Party's conception of good, which is pure evil), which would become unthinkable as, in Newspeak, such terms would exist as mutual contradictions. Due to these contemptuous connotations that Oceanian society associates with the above Newspeak vocabulary, it is beyond the mindset of the common man or even the Party member to proclaim a word of opposition to the oligarchy without seeming absurd and incomprehensible.

It soon becomes apparent, however, that Newspeak reverses altogether conventional interpretations of absurdity. A term which is frequently applied in reference to ideologies is blackwhite. It exists as a compliment of loyalty when addressing a member of Party who is willing "to state that black is white for the collective good." Aimed at subversives, however, it implies an incongruent perception of black as white, i.e. a viewpoint flawed to the extent that it opposes the characteristics of Absolute Reality in all of its aspects, or a code of ethics diametrically opposite genuine morality. This is, again, cleverly woven into the blunders of doublethink, which permits the imbecile utilizing it to assume simultaneously that a single reality exists and does not exist! "Blackwhite" describes identical behaviors in Witch Doctors and "oldthinkers", yet the former are as a result glorified and the latter chastised! A word both ludicrous and horrifying to a degree transcending even that of the previous example is duckspeak. Such a label is perceived to be the ideal of rhetorical expression in Oceania. The orator is required to spill out collectivist blather without the involvement of any voluntary effort or mental processes, similar to the automatic and thoughtless quacking of a duck, in order to be referred to as a "doubleplusgood duckspeaker". In the final stages of Newspeak, even words themselves are expected to atrophy for the reason that pure duckspeak does not necessitate them! Complexity withers away, eloquence fades into the "alterable past," ideas and messages starve as the lips of men no longer nourish their being... all this exists initially as a deliberate design of the Party intellectuals, yet subsequently, as Newspeak's creators, following the path of Mr. Syme, are themselves vaporized by the collective beast, remains lodged only as an automatic and irreversible scheme within subsequent Oceanian generations.

Other deliberate simplifications of language are undertaken to deprive the populace of expressive power. Uniform prefixes are imposed, and synonyms are erased for eternity. "Great" and "excellent" become "plusgood", "splendid" and "magnificent" become "doubleplusgood". Antonyms, too, are annihilated. "Poor", "bad", and "inadequate" become "ungood". "Wretched", "foul", and "horrible" become "plusungood". "Despicable", "abominable", and "evil" become "doubleplusungood". Reader, refer to the obliterated terms to comprehend the various particular applications and slight differences in both degree and context which are by the new "linguists" forever erased from man's access! The realization that they are poor, that their living conditions are wretched, that their philosophy is abominable, and that their overlords are evil would never strike the speechless ducks of the ideal Oceania. In their own cage of loaded connotations, "good" is defined by whatever the Party happens to perceive as proper for the time being.  Those are precisely the cataclysms enacted by the menace of imposed simplicity. In stifling the abundance and diversity of vocabulary, the Party ensures the indefinite dominance of suffering.

Deserving mention is an additional tool employed to further drain what small resources of thought Newspeak would have otherwise retained in a user, abbreviations. These are most frequently applied to government-related terminology, such as the names of subordinate ministries, the Ministry of Truth, concerned with falsification, the Ministry of Peace, a department of war, the Ministry of Love, devised to torture subversives, and the Ministry of Plenty, existing to perpetuate poverty. These become "Minitrue", "Minipax", "Miniluv", and "Miniplenty". What is the explanation? The fear remains within the Witch Doctors that one of the remaining intellectual dinosaurs, when pronouncing the complete names of such agencies, would detect the evident antitheses of name and purpose present in each one of those, which, for the common man, would produce a soothing effect (i.e. the humane sound of the name justifies whatever atrocities committed by the actual body) but for the concerned citizen, a realization of the numerous levels of deception undertaken in order to perpetuate the status quo.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.