Concealing Meaning

In our time it is difficult to find a public figure to utter -even in private- what he really thinks about sensitive themes. If caught on the wrong side of what is “correct”, outraged censure follows and forces a retreat with an “I misspoke”. Sanctimonious dishonesty is not new to politics. Novel is only that fudging has cult-status, is treated as a virtue and that it dominates the public discourse. Should this be attributed to “PC”? Or is political correctness only a tag in a game that makes amorphous vagueness into a prerequisite of political participation?

Naturally, at least in the Enlightenment-affected West, we enjoy freedom of speech and the right to information. Much is done to limit these rights. Which reminds one of the USSR’s constitution. By any standard, the “Stalin Constitution” was liberal. Of course, there was a catch; if you used your rights, you damaged your health. The liberties were there, however, using them was forbidden.

Except for those that can determine what PC is, and who have the means to enforce their code, the zone of freedom is shrinking. Take the case of language. A growing number of terms are disallowed while certain unnatural formulations are obligatory. My computer stubbornly redlines the word “mankind”. Stubbornly, I am committed to avoid “humankind” even if PC‘s violators are pilloried. By the rules of the logic behind this insolence, we detect complexes, such as that the person who conducts a meeting is, -gulp! – a chairman. No, not a “chair”. That, according to cavemen wording, is something one sits on. That person happens to be, regardless of his gender, the chairman. To have this corrected insert “regardless of his, her, or its biological, actual, perceived, or felt gender…”.

Bad as such kotows might be in English, the reader should be content. The unwieldiness is relatively rare and English can absorb the diversion, because it is one of those languages, such as Latin and my native one, that can make a complicated content simple to grasp. German, which is the context in which I live, tends to complicate what it intends to communicate. Its words have a gender, and so texts stretch by needing to indicate the obvious, namely that any gender is possible. So: “der Professor” suggests traditionally and grammatically that it is either a male or a female, and becomes “die Professorin/Professor“. By the end of the padding, one will have the gender right but lose track of what the prof is up to.

Related to the inclination to wander around in self-built labyrinths to demonstrate correct gender attitudes to biased judges is a habit to play with words. The gender-plague creates confusion when the case is clear and it alleges “guilt” only to exonerate the illusionist. The related sorcery is one in which real crime is verbally doctored until the deed first loses its meaning, to be thereafter converted into the opposite of the fact.

If the foregoing sounds a bit abstract, here follows the solution of the riddle. Many of politics’ practitioners, certainly their totalitarian mutants, like to identify their actions in terms that redefine their meaning. Nazis were a better at this than the Communists. A classic is above the entrance of a death camp a sign telling that “Work shall make you free”. More brutal is when the gas chamber is marked as the “shower”. The communists’ “reeducation” is actually a camp of elimination from which the survivors are only let go once they are broken. Orwell’s “Newspeak” gives a rendition of the art that creates a new pseudo-reality that sugarcoats the inconvenient truth.

Going beyond producing Pelosi, San Francisco, chasing total correctness, imposes a beautiful sample of Newspeak. Scratch “felon”, “convict”, “delinquent”. The way criminals are seen is to change. So, talk about “justice-involved-persons”, and make out of ex-cons “returning residents”. Contorted and emasculated of content? Yes. But put up with it or you will be banished. The case reminds one of Merkel’s talking about Germans as “inhabitants that have arrived earlier”. They share the land in the bliss of multi-culturalism with “newly arrived” fellow residents.

Test your fantasy. What should the torturers at, say State Security, be called since communism, being the “highest form” of democracy, the real word will not do. The correct solution: “body mechanics”. Even better is the Stalin-era term for a death sentence which is “social defense category one”.

Why this cover-up? Modern tyrannies, no matter how abusive, are spin offs of the ideals that date back to the Enlightenment. Those ideals share the optimism of man’s potential, believe in a future without material want, and government that expresses the majority’s will. However, totalitarianism wishes to secure the rights of a special majority. It is a majority without a minority because the ideal society is a homogenous community. A “people” comes about on the basis of race (Nazis) a shared sense of nationality (Fascists) or class identity (Communists). In these, all share the same identity, will, and desires. Democracy, meaning a community within which competing majorities alternate in power in the search of contested solutions, is to be superseded. Indeed, it is surpassed by a higher ideal. The politics of division is replaced by the “end of politics” and that total unity results in a “General Will”. Once in an unflawed society unanimity prevails, a single “Leader” can represent it. Naturally, the strived-for unity implies that those that cannot fit need to be eliminated. This leads to a morally justified “final solution” or that the “class struggle” be “intensified” as the ideal society is about to become a reality.

The heritage shared with genuine democracy means that totalitarians, who depict themselves as the architects of the highest stage of democracy, are careful with the terms they apply. Democratic forms are used to camouflage a murderous reality. Therefore, “relocation” might be the term used to deport entire peoples into locations at which most will expire. Peace becomes war. I have marched to “our only will is peace” followed by the song, “when the war comes and we march”. Victory in the “heroic coal-battle” meant that the school would be unheated. We found consolation chanting “there is no freer and beautiful land than ours, where all feel that they are free”. “Bolshevik” also comes to mind. The word suggests a “majority” even if, in fact, it had been a minority that assigned the title to itself. One of the humdingers of faked reality has been the Iron Curtain. In Newspeak that was something like the “antifascist wall”. That term brings us to the moment’s “Antifa”. The name is well chosen. The violent comportment is true to tradition, and it recalls the methods of the original that “made the streets free for the brown battalions”. By the way, at the time, strongly contested by the defeated Rotfront/Red Front.

With the sampled examples of distortions that either pretend that something that is does not exist, or whitewash dirty laundry by renaming it as clean, it was refreshing to run into an honest man. One who, while being a notorious murderer of his enemies -and he saw one under every bed- had the temerity to speak his mind. Frankly, the quote that follows has shocked me and so, I warn those with a tender constitution to fortify themselves before continuing at their own risk.
The source of the quote is Tibor Szamuely who, in 1919, led “The Lenin Boys”. With Béla Kun he headed the Hungarian Soviet Republic that lasted for 133 days. During that time, they slaughtered anything they cared to suspect. Their record has for long determined the fate of the country. Having alienated all, without help from besieged Russia, the system was overthrown. Szamuely committed suicide. Kun made it to the Soviet Union where, in the ‘30s’ purges, Stalin had him shot as a ”spy”.

Now, as promised, the word belongs to Szamuely.

“The power is now in our hands. The ones that wish for the return the old system must be hung without mercy. The hither victory of the proletariat has not demanded special sacrifice. Now, however, there will be a need for blood to flow. One must not fear bloodshed. Blood is steel: It strengthens the heart and it fortifies the proletarian fist. The blood we shed shall make us mighty. This will be blood that will lead us to the real communist world. We shall, if necessary, exterminate the entire bourgeois class.”

Those that appreciated the openness will like the next one. After a lecture by B. Kun about “extraordinary measures”, came a question “what will happen to me, what happens to the writers”? “There is no need for you in the proletarian state. You will learn some trade. If you are a smart aleck, we will execute you.”

What to do with these quotes? Those that are fashionably attracted to what they imagine socialism is, might ponder them; selective forgetting is successful censure by the “Thought Police”. Beyond that, and holding to the theme here, the unusual frankness that communicates a perennial policy should be appreciated. Honest murderers are rarer -and much wiser- than are those that repeatedly fall for their siren-songs.

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