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13 December 2012


Ryan Mount

If you want to control what people think, you need to control the language.

Step 1: Make some words too dangerous to speak, or better if possible, forbidden.

Step 2: After everyone is too scared to speak, we are then free to tell them what to say and how to say it. As Winston Smith reminded us: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death."

Step 3: After we have them uttering the "correct" words, we can change their thinking. Thought follows language.

Step 4: Get groups of these new thinkers/converts to condemn others that speak forbidden words. This can be done with ad hominem attacks, or simply yelling louder. The latter tactic is a proven strategy. Everyone knows the loudest person is always right.

Nineteen Eighty-Four [the novel] was supposed to be a warning, not a guidebook. Also worth a read is Orwell's Notes on Nationalism: http://orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

Russ Steele

If you control the language, you control the argument
If you control the argument, you control information
If you control information, you control history
If you control history, you control the past
He who controls the past controls the future.”

– Big Brother, 1984

George Rebane

Some of my previous contributions to this topic were in 'When You Own the Words - 'Illegal Immigration', an early RR post in which I said - "The studied reader is aware of the role language serves in enabling/limiting thought. The well-known Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis gave first scientific evidence of this over eighty years ago, and numerous studies have corroborated it since. The best known popular example of Sapir-Whorf is Orwell’s ‘1984’ that described a (then) future wherein the world’s masses are kept in line by being required to communicate in Newspeak which was continually tuned by the Big Brother government so as to make palatable the state’s description of reality and make thoughts of revolution impossible."

The even earlier Other Voices article in The Union on the same topic and referenced in the post can be accessed here.

It is for this and broader reasons that RR now has a Glossary.

Ryan Mount

In Notes on Nationalism, Orwell talks about how important it is to enlist intellectuals into your cause. Noam Chomsky* calls this collection the "upper 20%" which includes people in managerial positions. Specifically, Chomsky calls out professors and "decision makers" who *have* to be brought into the discussion. (American Liberals hate it when you include them as a variable in the elitist formula)

Anyhow the point is, these "intellectuals" can be/are easily swayed by the changing tide, even as they are proclaim to be refined critical thinkers. For whatever reason (and there are many including self-interest, self-preservation in the eye of war, funding, or a general bitterness from watching too many Dr. Oz episodes), these elites sell off loyalty to the figurative and literal highest bidder. So you'll have a newspaper, as Orwell points out, publishing photos of Soviet Soldiers hanging German villains, and then the same paper later on posting photos of Germans hanging villainous Soviets. And no one thinks twice about that.

But we're not talking about Nationalism in the spirit of what Orwell was discussing? Yes. Or is it something else that behaves an awful lot like Nationalism? Yes, again. I say it's State corporatism and factionalism. So the other day in another thread, I was accusing the Sierra Club of being such a factional organization. Shall we bring up the Nature Conservancy as well?(ah, f!#@ Ryan. Everyone knows the Nature Conservancy is a front for corporate interests. But *my* faction is the real deal, they tell me.) How about the SEIU and General Electric? All enabled by the government.

So even to question the prevalent dogma of any faction, which is driven by its discourse communities and propped up by its intellectuals, is to commit a thought crime. Just join the collective and STFU, you'll be much happier.

*"A common feature of intellectual culture"

George Rebane

RyanM 216pm - Not assigning you to champion Chomsky, but his equivalence arguments across the spectrum of free countries and tyrannies (especially in the 20th century) falls more than a little flat with me. For whatever reason the initial invasion took place, the measure of the invader is what he leaves behind when/if he withdraws. For example, perhaps the Brits stayed too long in India, but what they left behind in their conquests was an opportunity to forge a better form of governance for the people of that subcontinent than the patchwork of small sovereignties they first encountered. And so they did in Africa. The same may be said for us in the Philippines and Iraq. What the indigenous people do with that opportunity is up to them, and that's the important difference - the good guys leave it up to the natives.

Of course, one can point out exceptions about even the good guys - e.g. the European, then American, conquest of North America.

Ryan Mount

I chose my experts deliberately. Orwell and Chomsky in this case. American Exceptionalists and the occasional Conservative tend to to disagree with Chomsky's conclusions. We are free to disagree with him, as he's a member of that class he's criticizing. I tend to agree with his general observations regarding the general negative effects of modern Western hegemony on the developing world.(something for another post, I suspect) Although I have a sense of humor about it, and my position is not firm.


But I think that's (the anti-colonialism) a somewhat distraction compared to Chomsky's core observation about the intelligentsia and their influence. I would think that this would ring an AGW bell in our heads, even though we're discussing the impacts of what is ostensibly thought control via language.

So the main point is about how credibility and frankly consensus is manufactured. It's something you rail about regularly in this blog. It's something to the effect of "Consensus != truth." In fact, more than often, it's just the opposite. It's the one of the most common fallacies: argumentum ad populum. Just because Velvetta is America's most popular cheese, um, product, doesn't make it "better." It is delicious however. And you'll never see it on Dr. Oz.

We should considered consensus arguments very skeptically. It's more a marketing campaign, if you will. And Chomsky's point, as is Orwell's, is that more than often, the intelligentsia is responsible for writing the "copy" of the government. Which shouldn't be a nefarious act, but given our history, we should be very careful. Because this ain't China or North Korea. We just can't put soldiers on the streets and in our homes. We have to convince people, via clever and cynical marketing as well as the buy in of that upper 20%, if we don't support unwarranted spying on Americans, we're not patriots.

Thoughtcrime is insidious.

George Rebane

RyanM 356pm - good points. From your mouth to God's ear on "soldiers on the streets and in our homes". The ubiquotous Big Brother in-home camera of '1984' is now a (webcam) technical reality. And today we are debating in Congress about a new DoJ diktat to allow the feds to start assembling, storing, and perusing massive databases that cover all aspects of our non-criminal activities. Privacy is a losing rearguard action. We recall that our governments criminalize more and more of our formerly normal behaviors with each passing day.

Todd Juvinall

On FOX Radio News today I heard this. Boehner was "complaining" about Obama on the fiscal cliff negotiations, while Obama "challenged" Boehner. Little thing like this I hear all the time. If you listen carefully to each word they use for the two parties you will ascertain the bias and most people attach subliminal [purpose to the words. Obama and the media did this too Romney and to Hillary before him. Subtle but very effective to the "Moron" party types.

Paul Emery

Well all is not lost. Washington State is including Old Testament biblical law in their recent move to legalize gay marriage and pot smoking. The bible says "Men who lie with men will be stoned."

Todd Juvinall

Now that's funny!

Russ Steele

BTW: The GOP just took control of Washington’s state Senate.

Todd Juvinall

Media Research Center periodically reports on the manipulation of our language. I too have been the subject of the so-called press telling the readers I was something I was not. When I started CABPRO in 1993 the local Editor decided what I listed on my card and in my press release was not what I was was her choice not mine. I said CABPRO was going to be a entity similar to the Grand Jury. She decided to call me a "lobbyist". The battle began.


NPR has been pretty consistently using the Democratic Party vocabulary in covering the "Fiscal Cliff" issue, being careful to always say Boehner was against "raising taxes on the rich", rather than "raising tax rates". Boehner's volley back *was* raising taxes on high incomes, by capping deductions.

That reminded me why I don't give money to NPR or PBS anymore; a position that hardened after I moved to Nevada City and actually heard a Sacramento station's Begfest fundraiser tell listeners complaining about them not being balanced that 'If you give us more money maybe we'll cover your candidates better'.


"Just because Velvetta is America's most popular cheese, um, product, doesn't make it "better." It is delicious however."

Ryan, and you've been doing so well with your recent foray into rationality. That's a usage of the word "delicious" of which I was previously unaware, though I do have fond childhood memories of being with my father out in a boat on a lake on a cold High Sierra summer morning, trying to coax trout into eating more of it than I was.

Paul Emery


In your words what is CABPRO and why is it's function different than a lobby ?

Ryan Mount


I will accept the above as an compliment. Thank you.

BTW: Spam and Velveeta white bread sandwiches. Not all the time, but every once in a while after a cholesterol blood test, I've been known to enjoy these uniquely American food stuffs. It's really more of a Millennial hipster thing now along with using typewriters, wearing unnecessary sunglasses and bitching about not being able to find a job from the ease of the iPhone Tumblr app.

douglas keachie

You must try spam with musta on raisen bread, with a sprinkling of sand, at Long Beach, 1947 -1950.

On words,

"guns don't kill people, only people kill people"

like, please tell me the last time some nutcase went into an elementary school abnd carved up 30 children?


I see the usual suspects are out in force already, dipping their hands in blood for politics' sake.

Ryan, I was shocked to see a 2 lb brick of Velveeta "cheese" being sold at a Grass Valley Safeway for the same per pound price as Jarlesburg was at the Costco down the hill. Madness.

douglas keachie

Since when are dead elementary school children a political issue? Is Gregory aware of some group that is in favor of what happened? Pray tell, what group?

Ryan Mount


I want to acknowledge your good taste in cheese. I also want to recognize that Velveeta is officially an unrefrigerated "cheese food." (BTW, I purchased my box of Velveeta at Raley's. I had to ask the help to locate it in the store for me. Not one of my prouder moments.)

Regarding the other thing Doug brought up, we might want to hold off a few days before we get into it. Let's not see a bear made out of a bush even though our intentions might be just.

"More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold—
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!"

~Act 5, Scene 1
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Shakespeare

George Rebane

dougk 124pm - a good start with your iron bars comment on 'Raising the Bar...'. But I see much merit in the proposal to permit legal guns in schools so that such mad shooters don't have a safe environment in which to go on a serial killing spree. It is today's world, after all.

Rumination - how did we become a world where such mass killings are becoming so commonplace? And the simple answer that guns are easy to get today won't wash - today it is harder to get hands on a gun than at any time in our history. 50 years ago, anyone could have an M-1 semi-automatic carbine or other equivalent weapon(s), and commit similar atrocities in crowded places like malls, theaters, and schools. But to us then it was unthinkable, today it no longer is. What happened?

Ryan Mount

Oh well, I guess we bring it up.

> are becoming so commonplace

Are they? I'm not being snarky here. Just asking an obvious question. Anymore than gun violence in other parts of the world? Or is it the scope of the violence and its quasi-terrorist like methods? Could it be that we are more aware of such things given the instant, in-your-face reporting we have now? Could it be that we're "closer" to the violent acts?

> What happened?

But let's assume yes. Some possible answers:

- Higher populations which means more mentally ill and criminals.

- Less services for the mentally ill

- More mainstreaming of mentally ill (this, I understand is a very controversial thing to say) as opposed to locking them up

- I want to say greater rates of poverty, but poverty is not a causal factor necessarily in gun violence. The vast majority of poor people wouldn't harm a fly. And frankly the poor, if one believe recent studies, are living relatively high on the hog relative to just a few generations ago.

George Rebane

Administrivia - I added the Newtown tragedy to 'Ruminations - 14dec12' where I invite you to continue this comment thread since here it does not tie with the subject post.

Douglas Keachie

You can teach, or you can't watch for ambush. You sure as hell can't do both at the same time! If teachers are known to be armed, who will the killer take out first? When a plane crashes and we can't explain it. we ground the rest of that type, until the situation is at least ameliorated. Ban the sale of all Glocks and SIIGs until new restrictions are in place to at least reduce the l;likelihood of the event recurring. Ban the ammo too to get all of the NRA's attention focused properly. Buy a gun, leave the government with a $1000 bond. If, a year later you cannot produce the gun for your local sheriff, you forfeit the $1000 into the victims' fund. Make you think twice about locking it up. Laws can be constructed to make such tragic events less likely. Use your imagination. You can think of any? Use your imagination to imagine YOUR kid or grand-kid killed this way, maybe it will kick in after all.

Michael Anderson

I will get to this gun violence in my next comment. In the meantime, let's let HL Mencken have a word: "The essential difficulty of pedagogy lies in the impossibility of inducing a sufficiency of superior men and women to become pedagogues. Children, and especially boys, have sharp eyes for the weaknesses of the adults set over them. It is impossible to make boys take seriously the teaching of men they hold in contempt."

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