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Social Justice Activists Think They Can Change the World by Changing How We Talk

Social Justice Activists Think They Can Change the World by Changing How We Talk

“Revolutionaries of the postmodernist mindset would have us believe that societal change can be actuated through modifications to the language that describes it”

The left loves to police the language of others, and they actually seem to think it matters.

Andrew Doyle writes at Quillette:

A Puritanical Assault on the English Language

It is a truism that people are often educated out of extreme religious beliefs. With good education comes the ability to think critically, which is the death knell for ideologies that are built on tenuous foundations. The religion of Critical Social Justice has spread at an unprecedented rate, partly because it makes claims to authority in the kind of impenetrable language that discourages the sort of criticism and scrutiny that would see it collapse upon itself. Some would argue that this is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church resisted translating the Bible into the vernacular for so long; those in power are always threatened when the plebeians start thinking for themselves and asking inconvenient questions.

This tactic of deliberately restricting knowledge produces epistemic closure, and is a hallmark of all cults. The elitist lexicon of Critical Social Justice not only provides an effective barrier against criticism and a means to sound informed while saying very little, but also signals membership and discourages engagement from those outside the bubble.

It is inevitable that the principle of freedom of speech should become a casualty when powerful people are obsessed with language and its capacity to shape the world. Revolutionaries of the postmodernist mindset would have us believe that societal change can be actuated through modifications to the language that describes it, which is why Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School maintained that it was not possible to conceive of the liberated world in the language of the existing world. As for the new puritans, they have embraced the belief that language is either a tool of oppression or a means to resist it. This not only accounts for their approval of censorship and “hate speech” legislation, but their inability to grasp how the artistic representation of morally objectionable ideas is not the same as an endorsement.

It further accounts for their hostility to debate. According to this view, the airing of toxic ideas enables their promulgation, and so there is a moral duty to ensure that they are silenced. This is the logic behind the practice of “no platforming” or “deplatforming,” which sees visiting speakers disinvited from appearing on university campuses due to their contentious opinions. The new puritans’ longed-for utopia, in which all forms of prejudice are eradicated from the human instinct, will apparently be brought about through the control of how we speak and, by extension, how we think.


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Authoritarians seizing power and exercising that power wherever they find it manifests itself in multiple ways.

“In linguistics, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis asserts that a language’s structure and grammar construct the perception and consciousness of its speakers.”

Orwell stated this another way:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten… Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller… The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”

It’s why they are so desperate to censor “wrongthink” on Twitter.

For some light, entertaining fiction on this subject, check out Jack Vance’s The Languages of Pao.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to henrybowman. | January 16, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    Octavia Butler did a SF series with use of language as a driving part of the setting. Under-appreciated author.

    There’s a bunch of accessible sources on the mechanics of this, theory for what works, and how. The sources are a bit off-putting because the authors have been slimed for other things; itself a propagandist’s approach.

We’ve quietly accepted much of the left’s word association game.

We’re now the Reds. We hail from “red states.” Democrats flipped the legacy on us.

Don’t comply with the left’s language games, even if it means lower grades on written school assignments, banishment from social media, or being accused of the usual “phobias” and “isms.”

I saw this coming thirty years ago when usage guides at the back of English handbooks began their campaign of condemning “sexist” usage.

Be a contrarian. Revert to using the affix “man,” from “fireman” to “mailman.”

Use singular pronouns for singular antecedents. NEVER refer to a person with the plural pronoun “they.” It should go without saying that it is unwise to conform to the trans-sexual lobby’s demands for pronoun use and “dead-naming.” Once a man, always a man. Once a woman, always a woman. Existing pronouns are sufficient. The introduction of nonsensical babble as “pronouns” should at all times be rejected with extreme prejudice.

Speaking of pronouns, revert to the masculine pronouns as generic. Abandon the awkward “he or she” construction. And for god’s sake, make your pronouns agree in number with their referents/antecedents! This appears to be a principle that’s been fatally broken by all this feminist/trans ass-kissing.


    artichoke in reply to bullhubbard. | January 16, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    I’d support strategic bullshitting on school assignments where this issue comes up. No need to be honest with those dishonest purveyors of bullpucky. Real intelligence is shown by knowing what has to be written to succeed in the grading, while knowing the problems with it that you’re leaving unsaid.

    “Social Studies”, what is it? Socialist studies! The name could hardly be clearer. I’d devote all that time to lessons in reading, math, writing or science, and eliminate that annoying dose of socialism from the school day.

Antifundamentalist | January 16, 2023 at 7:02 pm

“Words are magic, that’s why we call it spelling.”

I think Terry Pratchett also used that line.