George Orwell wrote famously and at length – it is the core subject of his most enduring novel alone – on the subject of political language, but in Donald Trump, I believe, he would find material for a whole new body of work.
Couple of books, stage play, possibly a musical. These and more rich pickings await anyone of Orwell’s talent turning their attention to political gibberish. Political coherence, or the lack thereof.
In his writings on political language, at least those with which I am familiar, Orwell (pictured) dissected the ways regimes – democratic and otherwise – sought to micro-manage political thought through control of vocabulary.
Politics is, after all, nothing more than a conversation. Those who police the lexicon control the exchange.
Projecting this forward to one logical conclusion Orwell depicted a state fashioning a whole new language, one engineered with the ultimate purpose of preventing independent human thought. Sadly, most of his analysis and predictions stand the test of time.
Put simply, it’s how millions of forgetful fools equate the notion of zero hours or a rebadged YTS with the word ‘job’, or why more or less everyone you meet apart from committed pacifists refers to Britain’s sprawling weapons industry as ‘the defence sector’.
The incoming US President and his ilk either side of the Atlantic (particularly those behind Brexit), however, stand in direct opposition to Orwell’s theories.
Their message is the opposite of tightly controlled and specific. Instead it tends to the disorientating, is frequently, upon scrutiny, contradictory or makes no sense whatsoever, even on its own terms.
Trump’s press conference last Wednesday was the high watermark of this gathering tendency thus far; a performance which veered effortlessly from rambling shambles to blustering affront and back again for its duration.
Far be it from me to spout on behalf of Orwell, but I think he would set out from the presumption that Trump et al are out to prevent rather than manage thought.
Big Brother Is Confusing You?