Orwell’s Newspeak : The New Normal

Orwell’s Newspeak : The New Normal

The term “Orwellian” is a word thrown around like confetti these days. Often in hyperbolic terms but in most instances I think it’s justified.

For those of you who never read George Orwell’s 1984 (studies show about 90% of people who say they have, haven’t. ….. OK I pulled that figure out of my backside but it’s pretty close.) I strongly advise you should do so now, before it’s too late. I’m sure someone somewhere will indulge in a bit of offence archaeology and uncover some unsavoury exhibit from his shady past. (C’mon the guy changed his name he must have been up to something) Perhaps while in Burma he inadvertently mis-gendered a goat? He was an admirer of T.S Elliot so what more evidence do you need he was a racist misogynist. Onto the pyre with the heretic. For anyone within the libertarian movement who hasn’t at least read Animal Farm, shame on you. Get out!

Although I was a bigger fan of Aldous Huxley’s vision of dystopia in Brave New World as I felt the more benign dictatorship portrayed therein was a more feasible rendering. These days, and especially in Scotland, I’m not so sure. It’s becoming increasingly obvious just how prophetic Orwell was when it comes to outlining the future authoritarian regime. In Scotland today we are watching it unfold before our very eyes. Even long before the lockdown could ever have been imagined the SNP have been determined to strengthen the power of the state and diminish individual rights and liberties. Of course it’s always for our own good, protection, health and economic welfare. Sounds good but the result is always the same. Less freedom, more state interference in our lives, speech, expression and even thought.

One only has to look at the Notional Party’s attempts to get rid of corroboration, to introduce state guardians into families, curtail free expression through it’s Offensive behaviour at Football Act and of course stifle expression and speech with Humza Yousaf’s (seen culturally appropriating a kilt here… https://twitter.com/HumzaYousaf/status/370936976741920768/photo/1 ) Hate Crimes Bill, and you see the pattern. The latter, they seem determined to push through under the cover of Covid.

In 1984 Orwell outlined various devices by which INGSOC, the authoritarian English Socialist Party who rule Oceania with an iron fist, kept its grip on society and the proletariat. Many of those neologisms have become part of our commonplace language over the years. Big Brother, thought police, Room 101, Doublethink are some of the more recognisable in pop culture. Or Prolefeed . But I’d like to highlight some of the more contemporaneously resonant here.

Two Minutes Hate. Just as ancient Rome had it’s arenas, the bread and circuses that kept the populace supine toward the state and gave them an outlet for their anger and frustration. So Oceania institutes two minutes of hate. That period each day when the Outer Party must watch a film depicting all sorts of enemies of the state. It’s political purpose is to allow the citizenry to project any sub conscious and pent up rage and anguish at carefully selected and expedient targets. For today’s real equivalent take a look at news soundbites constantly played on a loop on various media outlets depicting punch bags of convenience. “Far right extremists”, Tommy Robinson, Transphobes and any other villain de jour that departs from the received wisdom of the day. It keeps the punters from focusing on the real issues.

Newspeak. INGSOC created the language of Newspeak to meet the ideological requirements of the party. Specifically designed to limit freedom of thought, personal identity, self expression and free will. Such concepts have been criminalised as contrary to party orthodoxy and Thoughtcrime. In Newspeak words often have a completely contrary meaning to their original definition. eg. Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace and according to the SNP, Independence is Dependence and being locked up for singing songs or telling jokes is tolerance. Neologisms like Newspeak and Thoughtcrime are part of Newspeak.

Thoughtcrime. Any politically unorthodox thoughts or beliefs held by an individual that contradict the tenets or edicts of the SNP.

Doublethink. To be indoctrinated into accepting that which was previously thought to be true, to be false, and vice versa. Someone with a penis can be a woman, someone with a vagina can be a man. The ability to believe two simultaneously contradictory ideas are correct. Summed up perfectly by the great working class hero of the people comrade Stalin, thus..

“We are for the withering away of the state, and at the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship, which represents the most powerful and mighty of all forms of the state which have existed up to the present day. The highest development of the power of the state, with the object of preparing the conditions of the withering away of the state: that is the Marxist formula. Is it “contradictory”? Yes, it is “contradictory.” But this contradiction is a living thing and wholly reflects the Marxist dialectic.”

Summed up by the great working class hero of the people comrade Sturgeon, thus..

“Independence within the EU .”

Bellyfeel. The blind and enthusiastic acceptance of any idea put forward by the state. Feels are more important than facts. “Stay at home. Save lives. Protect the NHS. The NHS is GOOD.”

Scoattash. The Scottish equivalent of “Oirish”. A kind of cheap kilted caricature. A non threatening representation of Scottishness. Shortbread tins, kilty dolls, The Hogmanay Show and the kind of “music” you hear blasting out of Royal Mile tartan outlets. Oh, and of course that perfect embodiment of the SNP itself. The ‘see you jimmy’ hat.

Alright, I admit I made the last one up but I think it qualifies. So there you have it. You have been warned. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and now that you know where you stand in Nicola Sturgeon’s “Democratic” ( = undemocratic) socialist Scotland, be it on your own head if you find yourself in Room 101.

Remember. Stay Alert! Wee Sister is watching you.

 

Tam Laird Is Leader of The Scottish Libertarian Party and co-host of the Scottish Liberty Podcast. He’s p**ed off

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2 Comments on "Orwell’s Newspeak : The New Normal"

  • Katrina says

    I sat my O’ grades in 1984 and had to read both Animal Farm and 1984. In the midst of the cold war 1984 didn’t grab me at all, but Animal Farm certainly resonated. However, in the following years, more so from 2001 I found myself quoting more and more from 1984. Then during the conflict Syria, I was listening to the news and found myself searching the net because I could’ve sworn we had changed sides from the day before. We had just like that. A visit to Tesco later that day drew me into their bookshop to see if there was a copy, and surprisingly they do stock it. Bought a copy and read it again. We are undoubtedly living in an Orwellian state, it is not quite how Orwell imagined it but everything is there. The unending wars, the control of language, the collective outrage applause at whatever band wagon it is this week. Will climate “denial” become hate speech? What about questioning the lockdown? I don’t know if the changing narrative of the reasons for the lockdown are more reminisce of the enemy changing mid sentence or the rules changing in Animal farm. Orwellian none the less.

    • Admin says

      I think with Animal Farm, you are constantly aware that Orwell is talking about the Soviet Union so you can sort of remain detached from it. 1984 is closer to home and I think in retrospect it’s the eerily prescient and prophetic aspect that makes it uncomfortable. Perhaps the party should gift a copy to Nicola Sturgeon?

      Tam

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