Politics in the English Language

Give an example from our own times of the way political speech and writing is “the defence of the indefensible”.

George Orwell in his novel ‘1984’ and ‘Politics in the English Language’ suggests that the debasement of language inevitably leads to the debasement of our humanity. Language is an instrument of power and when manipulated, language can cover abuses of power and the repression of civil liberties. Political rhetoric during times of conflict often used socialist language to drive people to war, for example, the famous “Uncle Sam Wants You”. In this context, language is used to create a desire and even a sense of obligation to commit grotesque acts of violence in a foreign place with a slim chance of survival. This is a clear example of political writing defending the indefensible, as language is used to turn the undesirable into the desired. When studying Donald Trumps “America First” speech in his bid for the presidency in the United States, we find many similarities to political speech and writing of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Trump begins by building an incredible sense of nationalism. In an article by Tal Kopan which can be accessed here: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/27/politics/donald-trump-america-first-nationalist-history/, she likens Trump’s speech to the America First movement which formed in the lead-up to World War II and was associated with anti-Semitism and U.S. nationalism. This sense of national pride is then followed by an imperialist sense of Militarism, as Trump pledges to build the American military to overcome any and all opposition to the drive of the U.S. The language used entices the listener with a sense of ‘domination’ and a ‘return to power’ through a dominant economic position that will be achieved only by force as Trump states “We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind”. This echoes the language of War and conflict in “defence of the indefensible”. Essentially Trumps speech is a call to arms, making war appear fantastical and elite. In reality, the sheer scale of growth proposed to reach this military ‘supremacy’ would have a severe impact on the economic standing of the Unites States and decrease its ‘domination’ in the Global arena. This political speech seeks to make the reckless sound rational.


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