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The left, language, and political change

The left, language, and political change

To gain linguistic and ultimately ideological supremacy, the left is constantly attempting to alter speech in ways both small and large.

The left recognized early on that changes in language are not superficial, and it became a big tool of theirs.

“Moving the Overton Window” is another name for the goal of the process, which is to change public perceptions of what is acceptable and what is radical. There are many ways the left accomplishes this, but a highly important one is through language.

I want to highlight the observations in this recent comment at my blog:

One fundamental principle – identified and exploited by both Goebbels’ Propagandaministerium and the KGB in Soviet Russia – is that endless repetition of a slogan infallibly modifies most people’s perception and reaction.

. . . . [E]verybody who comes from the left…knows that dissent means expulsion; so, any leftist develops a special ear capable of recognizing a new dogma: in articles and speeches given by the cool people in the cool places, a term begins to be used as if it were an indisputable evidence and those who “incredibly” refuse to accept it are gradually described as controversial, then conservative and eventually Fascist.

We constantly see this in action.

In the French Revolution, language was used for this purpose when people were instructed to call each other “citizen,” and in the USSR a similar phenomenon occurred (via Wikipedia):

Upon abolishing the titles of nobility in France, and the terms monsieur and madame (literally, “my lord” and “my lady”), the revolutionaries employed the term citoyen for men and citoyenne for women (both meaning “citizen”) to refer to each other…

When the socialist movement gained momentum in the mid-18th century, socialists elsewhere began to look for a similar egalitarian alternative to terms like “Mister”, “Miss”, or “Missus”. In German, the word Kamerad had long been used as an affectionate form of address among people linked by some strong common interest…In English, the first known use of the word “comrade” with this meaning was in 1884 in the socialist magazine Justice.

That’s just about forms of address, but the thing about these words is that they are used constantly in everyday life and are habitual. To change them is to change a great deal.

Some language changes are natural and emerge spontaneously from the people themselves, but some are imposed from above either through suggestion, coercion, or threat of punishment. Think, for example, about Canadian professor Jordan Peterson’s battle over the use of pronouns for transgendered people—he has indicated he would certainly consider using a person’s preferred pronouns but not under coercion or threat of punishment, either by government or by SJWs. As Peterson says in this video: the left is “trying to gain linguistic supremacy in the area of public discourse.”

To gain this linguistic and ultimately ideological supremacy, the left is constantly attempting to alter speech in ways both small and large. The small ways are sometimes even more effective because they can elude whatever radar the right may possess, and the right often adopts these linguistic changes without even realizing what’s occurring.

Orwell devoted a great portion of his masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four to this very issue of politically purposeful language change, something he viewed as central to leftist thought. In fact, I believe that his coinage and discussion of Newspeak was the beating heart of his book and a huge, memorable, and especially meaningful part of why it became so widely read and influential.

As Humpty Dumpty said [emphasis mine]:

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’?” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’?”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]


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The Chinese proverb that three men make a tiger.

“Three men make a tiger” refers to an individual’s tendency to accept absurd information as long as it is repeated by enough people. It refers to the idea that if an unfounded premise or urban legend is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be erroneously accepted as the truth.


Thank you New Neo. The process is the key to understanding the left as Orwell pointed out.

As Humpty Dumpty explained, it’s not really about ideological supremacy. It’s about supremacy, period. The idea is that once you’ve bullied people into using only the words you allow, you can bully them into anything.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to irv. | July 15, 2019 at 9:06 pm


    RE: “To gain linguistic and ultimately ideological supremacy, the left is constantly attempting to alter speech in ways both small and large.”

    They’re psychopaths and the tools thereof, that’s what psychopaths do…lie, lie, lies…..

“George Orwell

Politics and the English Language”

This has been going on forever. Never let the left get away with it. If they control the language they control the narrative. Worse, ultimately without the words certain ideas can’t even be expressed. Ultimately without the words those ideas can’t even be thought.

Publius_2020 | July 14, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Over the course of about 25 years, the left has increasingly adopted a policy of “false labeling” – the use of descriptive terms and slogans that are knowingly misleading, or outright dishonest, in their characterization of facts as an intentional effort to distort public perception. Some obvious examples:

1. The “war on women.” A subset of false labeling is false escalation: portraying something as a grave threat in order to amplify your position. See, e.g., “the end of democracy.”

2. Russian “interference” with “voting systems.” The word “interference” is chosen to suggest something that directly causes a result — as opposed to, say, truthfully publishing Podesta’s emails so the American people can see them. The phrase “voting systems” is chosen to imply that Russian acts might have modified the casting or counting of actual votes (as opposed accessing public information about registered voters on a computer completely removed from actual voting). The latter is an intentional effort to undermine the legitimacy of the actual election count in the minds of credulous supporters.

Eugene Lyons talked about the use of language to brutalize the Russian proletariat in his 1937 book Assignment in Utopia.

Brenner Pass is the foot crossing into Europe for a lot of illegals. I just found that youtube is squelching violent black bloc/antifa riot video of Brenner Pass – video I’ve linked to on occasion is simply gone.

Brenner Pass: black bloc antifa fascists from 2016.

How can we close the detention centers with all the lefties still living in them!

Elon Musk is an African-American.

March of the narcissistic useful idiots.

Have they learned nothing from the scam upon them by Al Gore? Do they get sexual pleasure from being used and abused? Must.

It was well over twenty years ago today that Jeff Goldstein warned us of these exact eventualities at his blog, Protein Wisdom.

Close The Fed | July 14, 2019 at 8:55 pm

Let’s talk about a specific change. Gloria Steinem and company’s “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” or “Miss”.

She and her kind constantly complained that we didn’t know men’s marital status, but we did women’s. Because it’s a functional thing; men are biologically the pursuers. They NEED to know if a woman is married or single. Women do not. Or should not.

So Steinem, who admits she had a dysfunctional childhood ( I could go on and on on that), decides other women, who had a loving, normal childhood, and WANT to be married, have lost a useful signal to men that they’re available – or not.

The more I think about it, the more I see those with some trauma or dysfunction in their lives, the more they want to destroy our culture, because perhaps, it let them down. They were hurt and it didn’t protect them. Steinem and rapinoe were both let down – and they enjoy the thought of tearing down the system that let them down.

I swear, we should make it mandatory to have lifetime therapy if you’re this opposed to your own culture – or exile you.

Close The Fed | July 14, 2019 at 8:59 pm

Here’s a couple other changes, one for commercial/marketing reasons:

-health care instead of medical care

-“pay tribute” to a deceased person, instead of “paying respects” to him. (This is from the BDSM community. You “pay tribute” to your dominant or domina which might literally mean, giving them money or a gift. In their weird world, they are above you, like an Inca god. Pay up, subbie!) Unbelievable how this grift got into the lexicon.

Speaking of the left and language, there is no one colletively dumber than we are. This started full-bore when the left co-opted “blue” as their color, and assigned us commie red. We took the bait.


Which is why I don’t let them get away with using democracy instead of Republic. Or use illegal immigrant instead of illegal alien.
Not one more inch.

    lc in reply to 4fun. | July 15, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Yes, they stole the word “liberal”- which used to mean classical liberalism-
    now means leftist.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to 4fun. | July 15, 2019 at 10:59 am

    It’s gone from “illegal alien” which is how the concept appears in statutes; to illegal immigrant; to undocumented immigrants (which is utterly retarded since nearly all of them obviously have some from of documentation, just not the documentation required to be here legally. So “illegal immigrant” is far more accurate than “undocumented immigrant”. But the word “illegal” explicitly connotes wrongdoing and that makes them less sympathetic). Then there is the scam where they just ignore the fact they are here illegally and simply refer to them as immigrants”.

    The newest lie is one I heard from Ilhan Omar, who referred to them as “undocumented Americans”.

DINORightMarie | July 14, 2019 at 10:46 pm

The left has been redefining terms for DECADES.

I have been talking about this, and the out of control MSM, since at least the first time I came to this blog in 2008.

Thank you for this post! The problem as I see it is….the left is already controlling the language, and thus the discussion/argument.

How can we take that back, re-take control of the language and discussion?! How do we defeat them (because they will NEVER stop), expose them to such a bald, naked, flayed-raw degree that NO ONE listens to them anymore….? (BTW–same question re: the media.)

    Exiliado in reply to DINORightMarie. | July 14, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    You vote.
    You make sure everyone in your family votes.
    You make sure all your friends vote.

    And while you are at it, make sure they are all exposed to what the left is doing. Show them the video of the American flag being disrespected and replaced by the Mexican flag. Point at the Democrat candidates openly advocating against American interests.
    You don’t have to push any opinions, just facts and direct quotes. Let Democrats bury themselves. They are doing a superb job at it.

      Milhouse in reply to Exiliado. | July 15, 2019 at 3:26 am

      Voting isn’t going to retake the language. The only way to fight their linguistic hijacking is to resist it. Every time you’re asked to change the way you speak, ask why, and consider whether you understand and agree with the reason. Sometimes the change will make sense to you, and you should adopt it. But most of the time it won’t, and you should refuse.

      And if they can’t give a reason, resist on principle, even if the change appears harmless. If the old way of speaking was good enough yesterday it ought to be good enough today too, unless they can explain why not. (This is why I refuse to write “Muslim” instead of “Moslem”; nobody can tell me why I should change the way I spell it, so I don’t.)

        Antifundamentalist in reply to Milhouse. | July 15, 2019 at 1:52 pm

        This is a current hot-button topic for me after a “friend” stated in a triangled comment that I didn’t understand the difference between a Concentration Camp and a Death Camp when I objected to the former being applied to the centers at the border. I understand perfectly the technical definitions as well as the decades-old images brought to mind by the use of the word, as well as the disingenuous purposes in how the left is bandying it about now. But you know, Leftism is his religion & you cannot have a rational discussion with a fanatic.

          alaskabob in reply to Antifundamentalist. | July 15, 2019 at 9:05 pm

          If the dictionary has one obtuse definition the lLeft will wiggle out with it. When you call them out for use of the word, they drag out a less than common term. For over a century “concentration camp” has had a definitely bad meaning starting with the British beating the Boers by incarcerating and slowly killing off the families of the Boer fighters. A major difference is that anyone in these present camps can leave and go home. It is also a form of anti-Semitism to erode the historical setting of the word. The Left knows that.

Part of the battle is push back against terms used wrongly-terms used FALSELY. So at times a news article with deceptive terms needs to be labeled FAKE NEWS. Perhaps our president is intentionally doing more for us on this issue than he is given credit.

    Milhouse in reply to Dr S. | July 15, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Except that “fake news” as it’s used today is exactly what we’re talking about — a hijacking and repurposing of a term that was coined to mean something else. “Fake news” as Hillary Clinton used the term meant sources like The Onion and The Babylon Bee, that openly declare themselves to be fiction and not real news. Trump took her term and used it for made-up stories published in real news sources; whether consciously or not, he was making the point that when real news sources dishonestly invent stories it’s hard to distinguish between them and the honest fake news sources.

      MattMusson in reply to Milhouse. | July 15, 2019 at 8:02 am

      Meanwhile Fake News (deliberately misreported facts) is morphing into a new animal – deliberately misreported facts with an overtone of meanness. CNN is the perfect example of this. They are morphing from FAKE NEWS to HATE NEWS.

Thus the degradation of the word “socialism”, from its true meaning of total government control of everything to a sort of touchy-feely concept of government as sugar daddy.

    I’ve heard people explain ‘socialism’ as meaning ‘being social.’ (They watch the ‘news.’)

      DaveGinOly in reply to | July 16, 2019 at 3:55 am

      During the 2016 election cycle, I got into a discussion of politics with a neighbor lady, with other neighbors present. She was a Hillary supporter and was saying outlandish things. I asked her, “Where do you get your news?”
      She replied, “From late night talk shows.”
      I replied,”You get your news from comedians?” Everyone laughed at her!

“Swiftboating”: Telling an unpopular truth.

Close The Fed | July 15, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Oh, and let’s not forget RGB’s “gender” in place of “sex.” I’ll use “sex,” thank you very much, for male and female.

Damn old baby-killer.

Also, the whole “they” for “him”. So it’s “they” instead of “him” in a sentence when you don’t know the sex of the person doing the doing.

It was good enough for CENTURIES or MILLINEA (sp?) to use “he” “him” for the generic unknown person. I still do it. RBG is nothing to me.

    Milhouse in reply to Close The Fed. | July 19, 2019 at 2:15 am

    Sorry, the singular “they” has been standard English since the 14th century. Nobody criticized it until the 19th century when some idiot grammarians decided English ought to follow the rules of Latin, and made up rules against anything that would be bad Latin.

Everyone seems to ignore the fact that in Nazi Germany—including within the SS—all the camps were called “Konzentrationslager” (abbreviated KZ), as they still are in Germany today. It is more than a bit of a whitewash to make the neat distinction between Dachau or Buchenwald and Auschwitz or Treblinka: all of them were places for industrialized murder—the difference was the percentage of inmates expected to die soon after arrival. “Vernichtungslager,” (‘Extermination Camp’), while appropriate for the latter sites, only became current terminology recently; I suppose to differentiate the worst of the SS’ efforts from the merely horrible.

While the term “Concentration Camp” was indeed coined during the Boer War for the prison camps of civilians, thanks to the Nazis’ use of the term, after WWII it came to mean a place of deliberate death. To throw around the word today, when ‘Internment Camp’ is meant is an Orwellian attempt to make the United States on a par with Nazi Germany, and at the same time to minimize the genocidal fury leashed upon the Jews of Europe (so that they can not claim the status of victims of persecution). We shouldn’t play the left’s evil game.

I first exposited this concept here over a year ago (
Here is a more fully-fleshed out version. (Still verbose, will be pared down in the future as I have an opportunity to improve it.)

Few would deny that we are currently engaged in a war over the direction of culture and society. It is a war fought largely, but not entirely, within an intellectual battlespace.

Within this battlespace, combatants devise arguments (weapons) out of ideas that are crafted into concepts using words. In the intellectual battlespace, strong arguments win over weak arguments and rational arguments prevail over the irrational.

Progressives, realizing they don’t have the weapons to control the intellectual battlespace, are now altering the battlespace in such a way as to exclude their opponent’s weapons. If you can exclude your opponent’s weapons from the intellectual battlespace, you can hold that battlespace exclusively. Traditionally, whoever controls the field of battle after the fight is regarded as the victor.

Defining opposing thought as “hate speech” is an example of this tactic. The term is meant to reduce the effectiveness of opposing thoughts by limiting their range in the battlespace (fewer people will be exposed to the ideas because their propagation is discouraged by condemnation) or to drive them (and their proponents – a la Bret Weinstein) from the battlespace altogether (some ideas become so toxic in this mentality that their proponents fear to mention them).

You can dominate the intellectual battlespace if you redefine words and concepts to exclude definitions and ideas that you don’t otherwise have the weapons to overcome.