Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…

Preface to first Newspeak Dictionary

New Speak was devised by Big Brother (Orwell’s dictator, not the TV show) as a language getting smaller. Words were abolished and whole concepts collapsed into a single word. “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”
As Susan George says “real control is thought control and … the pinnacle is reached when the controlled person (or society) no longer realizes that the concepts and the terms of reference he uses have been superimposed upon his mind by an outside agent.” (1976, p. 78)
Modern bullshitting is usually slightly more subtle than Big Brother. Everyone knows about ‘spin’, but more important is the deliberate muddying of the waters, and the repetition of ‘collapsed definitions’ by people who ought to know better. There is also the old trick of setting up a straw man- meaning you pick the weakest argument of the opposition, or deliberately twist what they say into something ridiculous and then say “you see, there is no alternative. “Something Must Be Done, (and This is it).” “Bombing versus Doing Nothing.” “Using Genetic Modification or the letting the Third World Starve.”
Ideally, this booklet will help you see distinctions where before you saw none, and help you slip out of some of mind forg’d manacles.

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2011 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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