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You are here Here'Articles' The Left And The Corruption Of Language And Thought Comment

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Patrick Spooner

I have mentioned before the instantaneous reversal of parity by the left and their docile, obedient followers (journalists and "educationists" mainly) when the iron curtain was dropped and the Soviet Union was, at last, revealed in its full glory.

Finally the left was forced to admit that it really was what critics of socialism had been saying it had been for decades: a gigantic charnel house coffin, reeking with slave labor camps and death camps, in which the people had been kept in a state of terror, poverty, and miserable, drab, slavery for seven decades. ( Of course the left knew this; but, to them, the preservation of the socialist myth was more important than the freedom and lives of 300 million people, so they stayed absolutely silent until the revelations of 1989/90).

But when their faces were, at last, rubbed in the dried blood of tens of millions of victims, they immediately began referring to those who wanted to largely abandon socialism and introduce some economic freedom as the 'left', and those who wished to retain socialism as the "right".

Martin Gardner, the American philosopher long beloved for his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American, once wrote a book called The Ambidextrous Universe about left and right, and the phenomenon of parity reversal. Perhaps he should publish a new edition, and mention this as an example: it is certainly as bizarre as anything else he mentioned in the book.

Another example of the abuse of language by the left which I think I have mentioned is the description of Pol Pot as a "capitalist", once the truth had finally been revealed to the left (everybody else knew what was happening only weeks after Pol Pot seized power; it was not leftist media darling John Pilger that revealed the truth to the world, but the Cambodian people themselves.

Millions of words of evidence of atrocities unspeakable even by Soviet or Nazi standards poured from the mouths of refugees, which the left chose to totally ignore, except to accuse these tragically affected people - most of them ordinary peasants - of being "landlords" or "gold hoarders").

To mention another case: those on the left commonly describe themselves as "progressive", implying that everybody else, especially those who believe in individual rights, are somehow backward. However, socialism is anything but a "progressive" philosophy; rather, it is very close to the feudalist societies of medieval Europe. The reader is recommended to Barbara Tuchman's The Distant Mirror. Here she gives a description of feudal society and its human relationships. The parallels with a socialist state or a modern, centrally directed, authoritarian welfare state, are striking.

The land-owning nobility were the equivalent of the government and its bureaucrats today. The church, supposedly pure and highly moral, but in fact hypocritical, venal, and totally opposed to human liberty, have, today, been replaced by the college and university: today's academics are the exact equivalent of the priests of feudal times. The nobility and the church saw themselves as the protectors of the poorest class, the serfs.

These earthly and spiritual rulers were so morally pure that, by their own lights, their whole lives were devoted to the interests of the poor, land-bound serf. And the most reviled and despised person in feudal society was, of course, the merchant. He was the equivalent of today's capitalist, and the rulers absolutely loathed him, and were constantly introducing new laws to fetter him.

The worst thing about the merchant was that he actually had something to offer the serf besides pious words, perpetual slavery, and massive theft. He had all kinds of goods, especially cheap cloths, often imported, which the serf could afford, and which came in bright hues. This last is very important to somebody who is otherwise condemned to wearing dark, filthy rags for their whole life; and the barons and priests, sensing that the serf might actually start to think about his independence and self-respect, brought in laws forbidding the underclasses to wear any colors apart from brown and black.

The serf had to, at all times, be kept as a slave beholden to the banquet hall and the pulpit; the reviled merchant represented an open threat to this relationship. The merchant wanted the serf to be free; he would then be a better customer, but the barons "protected" the serf from such dangerous ideas as freedom and individual rights.

Socialist dictatorships this century are exactly the same; the laboring classes have no hope of betterment, while all the positions of money and power are filled by the idiot children of the ruling clique. The expository passage in 1984 describes this feature of collectivist societies very well.

The liberation of the poor, and the destruction of the system that had oppressed them for so long, occurred with the industrial revolution and free market capitalism. As Lord Acton pointed out, the social class which has the most to gain from economic freedom is the laboring poor - the rich, on the other hand, are greatly threatened by liberty and free movement between classes. So much for the slippery and evil abuse of language which sees socialism as "progressive" and freedom as "reactionary".

Possibly the worst example of language abuse in this nation is that which sees the word "liberal" as referring to anybody who believes to a large degree in authoritarian collectivism. This is an atrocious and utterly dishonest inversion which those who believe in individual rights should never have tolerated.

The word "liberal" is derived from the ancient Greek word for freedom, and in other countries refers to exactly that. The now defunct Liberal Party in Britain was the successor to the Whigs, those who stood for freedom against the rigid class structuralists of the Tory Party, and, later, the socialist enslavers of the Labor Party.

It has been said that all people can be divided into two groups: Platonists and Aristotelians. Plato was the first collectivist totalitarian; his Republic is the first socialist state. Noam Chomsky, Al Gore, the Clintons etc are unquestionably Platonists. This correspondent (and his publisher) are Aristotelians, those who put the rights of the individual ahead of the whims of Plato's philosopher kings (and queens).

This Aristotelian group are the true liberals. I call on anybody who passionately believes in genuine human rights to reclaim the word "liberal": we should never have let it go without a fight.

The reason I am writing about this at such length is that once language is corrupted, the whole process of thought is corrupted too. George Orwell made this point painfully clear in 1984. It is YOUR responsibility to never allow the left to get away with the kind of language corruption and distortion I have written of here. If you do, you will find that your children will, eventually, no longer be able, much less permitted, to think clearly and question the nostrums of the left. Corrupt language corrupts thought; please, please, never forget that.