George Orwell Essay Language Politics

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To reemphasize Orwell: clear writing and clear thinking are not just the “concern of professional writers.” We are all writers and critics in some capacity.

When a high-ranking politician delivers a speech, it can seem as though they’re merely a puppet, a tool, acting as a chess piece in a much larger maneuver, in a much larger game, in which, like us listeners, they are the played and not the player.

When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine.

And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity. From this perspective then, it makes sense that a politician who wants to do the opposite — who seeks to elicit unthinking conformity from his audience — would make himself mindless by mindlessly reciting words that were written for him and not by him.

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.


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