Thursday, June 16, 2005

Political Correctness and Orwellian Newspeak

Truly we are blessed with threesomes today. Hang on, I'll rephrase that...

"Political Correctness" is merely a particularly vile incarnation of the "woolly thinking" that your indomitable Pedant-General seeks to expunge. To this end, I have been mulling over the thought that the EU and its institutions had relied almost entirely on a form of political correctness - indeed almost a quasi-religious belief-system - any element of which it is heresy to question. The parallels with NewSpeak to sustain the (otherwise) unsustainable sprang to mind.

Whilst I would hesitate even to pick the crumbs from beneath Roger Scruton's table, it would appear that we are of the same mind.

So you could knock me down with a feather when this hove into view, closely followed by this at the same site.

Whilst this third article - on the politically-motivated destruction of the study of histroy - does not make the NewSpeak reference explicitly, the connection is clear. It is so chilling that perhaps a little quotation is in order:

‘Newspeak was the official language … devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.

'The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.

‘When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten, but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there, imperfectly censored… In the future such fragments, even if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable….Take, for example, the well-known passage from the Declaration of Independence:

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….

‘It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original…. A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson’s words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.

‘A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being transformed in this way. Considerations of prestige made it desirable to preserve the memory of certain historical figures, while at the same time bringing their achievements into line with the philosophy of Ingsoc. Various writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and some others were therefore in process of translation: when the task had been completed, their original writings, would be destroyed.’

Present-day Ingsoc Party members have found a short-cut solution to the problem posed by these potentially embarrassing politically incorrect elitist works. Destroy any vestiges of national pride on grounds of its being offensive to minorities, and thereby remove any vestigial traces of prestige that these canonical works of English literature might once have enjoyed. Thus, they can cheerfully be consigned to the incinerator along with yesterday’s embarrassing newspapers cuttings.


No comments: