“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink… [Language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language make it easier for us to have foolish thoughts… But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.”This quote comes from an essay called “Politics and the English Language” that was written by George Orwell. The author of the greatest English-language novel of all time – 1984 – wrote these words in 1946 but he could have been describing Britain in 2017.
The corruption of language by pseudo-leftists is often called “political correctness” by people of a right-wing bent. I dislike this term because it seems to have become an excuse to complain that you are not allowed to use the racist language that disfigured my 1970s childhood. To those people who scream about “political correctness gone mad” I would simply ask, why do you want to use racist language? However, it is abundantly clear that a number of journalists, politicians, even academics want to use language to stop people thinking thoughts that the Establishment disapproves of – or claims to disapprove of.
One of the favoured abuses of language is to simply invent new words and then label your opponents with those words. These words often end in “-phobia,” “-ism” or “-ist.” Accusing people of having a “phobia” is a particularly useful slur as it equates a political opinion with mental illness. The maddest of these new words is “intersectionality” (no, don’t bother) which as far as I can tell is a term used to absolve favoured victim groups from the secular sins of sexism, racism and homophobia.
A second abuse of language is to take a word that already has negative connotations and apply it to completely inappropriate situations. The racism of the 1970s I alluded to above was genuinely horrible and aimed at people for no other reason than their ethnic origin. The “racism” of 2017 is nothing of the sort – the Establishment will call you a racist for disliking a religion, a political programme or even an international trading organisation. If opposition to the European Union is racist, does that make Michael Foot, the leader of the Labour party in the early 1980s, and Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn’s mentor, racists?
I am no more worried about these Establishment shills calling me a racist than I am about followers of the mythical magic carpenter or the semi-historical desert bandit telling me I’ll go to Hell if I don’t follow their particular version of the Abrahamic delusion. Or a five-year-old telling me Father Christmas won’t bring me any presents if I’m naughty – that’s about their intellectual level.