Posts Tagged ‘Confucius’

Newspeak and the War on Terror

May 4, 2009

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

– Confucius on the “Rectification of Names” (正名)

This is (somewhat) old news, but I don’t think this was given the amount of coverage it deserves:

The Obama administration appears to be backing away from the phrase “global war on terror,” a signature rhetorical legacy of its predecessor.

In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted thatthis administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please useOverseas Contingency Operation.’ ”

‘Global War on Terror’ Is Given New Name

The Orwellian distortion of language continues. It constantly amazes me how government officials, journalists, etc. are simply incapable of calling a spade a spade. Nobody ever talks about “wanton killing of civilians“. Instead, we talk about the “global war on terror” “overseas contingency operations”.

It must be understood that everybody running for public office in this country is a pathological liar, irregardless of their party affiliation.

Irregardless of the politically correct Newspeak, the war continues under Obama. It is absolutely vital that we do not confuse a change in terminology or even a change in leadership, for actual change in reality. George Orwell understood this very well when he wrote:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Politics and the English Language

Confucius also understood this, even though he lived thousands of years ago:

Tsze-lu asked,
“If the Duke of Wei made you an advisor,
what would you address as the very first priority?”

Confucius replied,
“The most important thing
is to use the correct words.”
“What?” Tsze-lu replied.
“That’s your first priority? The right words?”

Confucius said,
“You really are simple, Yu.
The Sage keeps his mouth shut
when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!

“If we don’t use the correct words,
we live public lies.
If we live public lies,
the political system is a sham.

“When the political system is a sham,
civil order and refinement deteriorate.
When civil order and refinement deteriorate,
injustice multiplies.
As injustice multiplies,
eventually the electorate is paralyzed
by public lawlessness.

“So the Sage takes for granted that he use the appropriate words,
and follow through on his promises with the appropriate deeds.

“The Sage must simply never speak lies.”

The Analects, Book 13 Verse 3

Language is power. If we do not understand this, than that power can (and will) be used to bind us and blind us.

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