1984, and Bush's Unusual Dictionary

If George Orwell were alive today, the Bush Administration would most likely give him goose pimples. According to this article from Argentina's La Nacion, subverting language to serve the ends of the State is something the present government in Washington has raised to a high art.

By Mario Diament

Translated By Carly Gatzert

December 3, 2005

Original Article (English)   

Eerie, Isn't It?

MIAMI: In his novel 1984, written in 1948, George Orwell evoked a rigorously controlled society, governed by a totalitarian power. A world divided into three permanently warring superstates, where words are instruments of submission.

In Oceania, the fictitious state where Orwell’s story takes place, the official language is referred to as "newspeak." Its main objective is to provide a form of communication that does not require thinking and in which the etymological meaning gets lost. Thus, contradictory mottoes like "war is peace" or "ignorance is strength" become universally accepted truths.

 "Newspeak" also makes use of contractions and acronyms to label places and organizations, masking their true functions. A coercive labor camp is referred to as a "joycamp," making one less inclined to reflect upon its true meaning.

When he wrote his novel, Orwell was thinking in terms of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, but many of his ideas have an unexpected relevance today. In fact, a Newspeak Academy has been in existence for years, with the intention of discovering and defining such emerging euphemisms, like referring to soldiers killed by the mistakes of fellow soldiers as victims of "friendly fire," a term that obviously intends to portray the accident more favorably.

In the United States, politicians and military officials have widely adopted Orwell’s principles and many of their speeches are authentic paradigms of "newspeak." If there has ever been a moment in history that has forced the gatherers of "newspeak" to work overtime, this is it. From "weapons of mass destruction" to "enemy combatant," the triumvirate formed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has incorporated true jewels of conceptual deception into "newspeak."

Such is the current situation that the newspaper, "The Nation" decided to compile and publish a "Dictionary of Republicanisms." Some of the definitions are impossible to translate, but others are not. Here are some examples:

Patriot Act: The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first.

Bankruptcy: A punishable crime when committed by poor people, but not corporations.

Compassionate Conservatism: Poignant concern for the very wealthy.

Democracy: A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted.

God: Senior Presidential Adviser.

Class Warfare: Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.

Faith: The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary.

Voter Fraud: Significant minority turnout.

Liberals: Followers of the Antichrist.

Free Markets: Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense.

Laziness: When the poor are not working.

Leisure Time: When the wealthy are not working.

Senate: Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million.

September 11th: Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated.

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