He was right, just a quarter century too early.

George Orwell scholar John P. Rossi writes in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer that the author’s famous novel about an anti-Utopian future, 1984 (written in 1948), remains more pertinent today that during its setting a quarter century ago.

This passage, I’d argue, perfectly describes out talk-radio culture and the destruction of coherent thought which is its hallmark:

[T]he corruption of the language is everywhere around us, especially in advertising, public relations, and politics. No politician, for example, admits doing anything wrong. Instead, “mistakes were made.” The agency of our government charged with waging war is, of course, the Department of Defense – just as the agency in charge of propaganda in Nineteen Eighty-Four was the Ministry of Truth, which coined such slogans and terms as “two plus two equals five,” “Newspeak,” and “war is peace.” Similarly, the U.S. Strategic Air Command adopted the slogan “Peace is our profession.”

Orwell was so concerned about the state of the language because he believed that its debasement would make it difficult for people to think critically and make concrete distinctions. He worried that the concept of historical truth would disappear amid the foggy thinking brought on by the language’s corruption.

Debasement of the language? The death of historical truth? The code slogan for those accomplishments these days  is “We report, you decide.”


2 Replies to “He was right, just a quarter century too early.”

  1. Wasn’t 1984 written in 1948– which is why he picked ’84 by flipping the two numbers from ’48?

    Otherwise, this is right on!

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