Monday, June 13, 2005

ORWELL WOULD BE SHOCKED

The perversion of language is at a pace that would shock George Orwell. Words that once had clear meaning are turned, via the Ministry of Truth, into their opposite.

Take as but one example, the contemporary use of the word "reform". At one time a reform mean political or social action or legislation that improved the living situation and increased the liberty for the average person. There were movements to abolish slavery, child labor, and to institute a shorter work day and safety in the work place. The greatest names of British, Canadian and American politics were associated with reform movements. Men like Charles Edward Fox, Gladstone, Jefferson, Bryan, Papineau, MacKenzie. Such reforms and the political parties and movements connected with them were a major force throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.

However, since the 1980's the notion of reform has been stripped of its original democratic and humanitarian meaning. Far right politicians who seek to lengthen the work week, undermine the living standards of the ordinary person, centralize political and or economic power even more than it is and roll back many of the reforms instituted previously, are both self-described and loudly touted in the media as "reformers." Reactionary, anti-people policies are being trumped as progress! It is enough to make one puke.

Then there is the already much abused word "democracy" - I need not go into how the original concept (direct democracy) was perverted into representative democracy by the ruling class in the late 19th Century. Nor need I mention the Stalinist perversion of the concept - the so-called Peoples Democracies. No, I am referring to the contemporary Neocon usage.

The Bush-shites claim they are imposing a democratic revolution upon the non-democratic world. It seems that that the Neocons, are different in this manner the Kissinger Realists, who favored right-wing dictatorships. But the reality is different from the rhetoric. Witness the vote in Turkey not to engage in the conquest of Iraq. The neocons were furious and thought the Turkish government should have overridden wishes of the overwhelming majority. When the Turks - not noted for their democratic govts. - actually practiced democracy, the neocons hated it. The neocons were pleased when Blair, the Italian, Dutch and Danish governments ignored the wishes of their citizens and climbed aboard the Iraq War bandwagon. Then the worst case of all - that of Venezuela. Two elections, a referendum - all of which passed international scrutiny and now with more than 70% support in the polls, the US is still trying to overthrow Chavez.

Then there is the word "liberal", as it is used by economists and the European right-wing. The term has also been taken over by the left, when it speaks of contemporary alleged free market economics as "neo-liberal." Trouble is, there is nothing liberal about either European liberals nor neo-liberalism. To start off with, remember the list of great reformers I presented? They were all liberals. Todays neo-liberals are reactionaries, not progressives. They do not seek to improve the lot of the workers, rather the opposite. Neoliberalism is a form of mercantilism that puts corporations and corporate profits above everything else. Original liberals - like Smith and Jefferson, were hostile to corporations, fearing them as a mercantilist perversion of economic freedom. Where the market or economy came into conflict with ethics, the moral values came first among these liberals. The great liberals of the past were motivated by ethics, of Christian or Rationalist origin, and not by greed, psychopathic contempt for humanity and lust for power. Neo-liberals are about as liberal as Stalin was a democratic socialist or the Grand Inquisitor a follower of the Sermon On The Mount!

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