Orwellian Doublethink and Doublespeak in 2023

I used to have my students study the use of Orwellian doublespeak. You know, from his novel. 1984. The genius of Orwell, which was more interesting than Huxley’s dystopia, “Brave New World,” was that Orwell realized that world leaders (of both sides of political philosophy) use language to manipulate their masses (us).

One of the most used and best methods of doing this with language is to increase the use of euphemisms as they ratchet up their war games. For example, as our wars progressed, our use of euphemism and bureaucratic gobbledygook progressed as well.

In the Middle Ages, the combatants who became insane from the carnage were not called anything other than “coward” or “traitor,” and possibly executed in front of others as a lesson not to go crazy in the military.

In the First World War, a truly mechanistic war, with gasses, trenches, artillery, and machine guns, the leaders used the term “shell shocked” for those who went bat-shit crazy from the violence and deaths all around them.

Then, in World War Two, when the toys of war games became even more distant, with bombers, purges of millions in concentration camps, and the slaughter of more civilians than combatants, they needed to escalate the euphemism, so the civilians at home didn’t freak out so much. Thus, the powers of war called it “battle fatigue,” as if the crazy person were just tired and needed a nap.

Finally, in our post-modern era, in which language really saw an uptick in attempting to soothe the mental frailties of the masses, we have the all-time most one-size-fits-all euphemism for going bug-fuck crazy under violence and extreme horrors, even in everyday life. They call it “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.” Why? Because not only can the war mongers use it in their field hospitals and V.A. psycho wards, but the civilian sector (which is also getting increasingly violent as we increase the pressures to survive) use it for their clientele also.

Simply parse the words used, and you can determine why they’re great to use. First, “post-trauma” means “after trauma” has taken place. Well, anybody who’s actually experienced trauma knows that this trauma never leaves, so it can’t be “after.” Also, “stress disorder,” labels the victim as being at fault, existentially, and certainly not the society that caused this direct trauma.

Anytime the powerful use “disorder” in a phrase, you know its directly aimed at you being the one at fault, and they need to repair you. Kind of like that mechanistic or computer method, again. You know. You’re experiencing a mechanical break-down of some kind, or you have a “bug” in your computer brain that’s making you fucking crazy.

Why is this? Well, as my pops used to say “follow the money.” If the system were to take the blame for the crazies and their craziness, then they might be open to some blow back, or even lawsuits (as guys like Donald John Trump are experiencing lately). We don’t want these crazies suing us, now do we? No. So, we tell you you’re experiencing stress from a past trauma of some kind about which you became “disordered,” so now we need to fix that disorder and help you forget about or sublimate those bad things from taking place again. And, baby, do we have a drug for you!

Present day social systems use doublethink or doublespeak all the time now.

Triggers = psychological warnings, like road hazards, to allow the reader/viewer to opt out of possible trauma-inducing experiences (even in horror).

Food insecurity = starving.

Gender fluid = being any gender I wish, any time I wish.

Collateral damage = people not meant to be killed as a result of a drone or other military attack.

Global Warming = the weather going crazy because of human activities. It’s still just warming up a little. Nothing to fear.

The list can go on and on, and I used to have my students discover examples in their daily school, work, and play lives. Pretty awesome how our systems delude us from looking at things directly and seeing them for what they actually are.

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