Linguistic Programming: A Tool of Tyrants

“How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!” —Samuel Adams

Dictionaries are becoming tools of tyrants. Ask your dictionary to define “woman” and you might see what I mean.

Merriam-Webster still defines woman as an “adult female person,” but it defines a girl as “a person whose gender identity is female,” with “gender identity” defined as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female.” A “female” is defined a person “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.”

How does an invention of gender ideology, i.e., the construct “gender identity,” make it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary?

Cambridge includes among its definitions of “woman” “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” Here again we see gender ideology at work valorizing the queer theory claim that gender identity is a person’s internal sense of being female.

It’s odd to see such a convoluted definition to a basic word with a plain meaning in such a prestigious dictionary, but that’s the result of having to put things in a way that (hopefully) does not enrage the gender ideologist—charitably assuming that Cambridge is not associated with tyrants.

Ask yourself, is a rectangle “a closed 2-D shape, having 4 sides, 4 corners, and 4 right angles (90°)”? Or is it “a thing we call a rectangle”? Go look and see. And a square? That’s “a closed 2-D shape, having 4 equal sides, 4 corners, and 4 right angles (90°)” (emphasis mine).

You may not even be aware that some of the major dictionaries you ripping the meaning and usage of some of the surest words in your language right out from under you, not on the grounds that the majority is using those words differently today (they aren’t—not yet, anyway), but because the elite have embarked on a project to change the meaning and usage of words.

Many of you find it hard to believe. Why would elites do such a thing? The answer is rather obvious if you study the history and nature of totalitarian regimes. Tyrants change the meaning and usage of words to put the people in a state of confusion. Once confused, humans are more receptive to ideological programming.

In his 2004 Linguistic Engineering: Language and Politics in Mao’s China, Ji Fengyuan argues that language was used as a tool for political control during Mao Zedong’s rule in China. Through a detailed analysis of Maoist language and discourse, Ji argues that language played a crucial role in shaping the political and social reality of Maoist China. The Chinese language was “reformed” to promote ideological conformity. The book provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between language and politics in one of the most tumultuous periods of China’s history.

China’s Cultural Revolution

Confusing the population over the meaning of words was one of the tactics used during the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao Zedong and his followers believed language was a tool of class struggle, and that by manipulating language, they could control the thoughts and actions of the Chinese people. One of the main goals was to reduce the influence of traditional culture. Maoist slogans and terminology were used to create a new revolutionary vocabulary that reinforced Mao’s ideas and delegitimized opposing viewpoints. This resulted in a situation where words and phrases took on new meanings that were often ambiguous or contradictory, making it difficult for people to understand each other and communicate effectively.

As a species, humans desire and activity seek ontological security, and if made to be unsure of what they thought they knew to be true, they will accept in the place of sure knowledge of objective reality and healthy social relations other truths to reestablish their sense of security. They will demand things from others for these ends. They will even hurt other people for achieve it.

The tactic of disrupting normal thinking through meaning manipulation is part of a intentional campaign to produce conditions of anomie. Anomie is a word sociologists use to describe a situation where the normal moral and social standards of collective life become uncertain.

I say intentional because, in queer theory, arguably the most influential instantiation of postmodernist critical theory today (perhaps even more so that critical race theory), this is explicitly part of the praxis. You hear it in the rhetoric of “transgression.”

“Transgression” refers to the warping and breeching of social boundaries and norms, in this case boundaries and norms surrounding gender and sexuality. The concept of transgression is closely tied to the idea of “queering”—disrupting or subverting dominant expectations and prevailing norms related to gender and sexuality. By breaking these norms, individuals believe they are challenging and destabilizing power structures they imagine oppress them. Yet the power structure that runs the world not only embraces queer theory but is a co-creator (more on this in a future blog).

Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist who developed the concept of anomie in his 1893 The Division of Labor in Society. Durkheim defined anomie as a state of normlessness or moral confusion that arises in society when traditional norms and values are weakened or undermined. In modern industrial societies, anomie is the consequence of rapid social change and a lack of social cohesion.

Émile Durkheim (1858-1917)

In his 1897 Suicide, Durkheim argued that the presence of anomie leads to higher rates of suicide, as individuals become disassociated with reality, seeking to escape the nightmare world such disassociation brings. In other words, suicidal tendencies can be induced by confusing the individual over the most basic of things, for example gender, and then offering that individual euphoria and salvation through the transformation of his body.

“The nightmare par excellence is the experience of the shattering of the taken-for-granted worlds of everyday life,” Peter Berger writes in his 1967 The Sacred Canopy. “In the face of this disorienting experience, the individual may find a new sense of order and meaning by investing in the symbolic universe of a religious tradition, or in any other symbolic universe that offers a comprehensive view of reality. This is particularly true in the case of the primary group, where the individual’s identity is most closely tied to the symbolic universe of the group. The nomic significance of the group’s symbolic universe can be so powerful that the individual is willing to die for it or find death preferable to its loss.”

Berger argues that this is why joining a cult of religious group is a risk for disoriented persons: because immersion in a fantastic doctrine “provides a new sense of order and stability, and a new basis for the individual’s identity and sense of self.” It’s how Mao more fully integrated the Chinese population into the political-ideology of the communist regime.

If any reader doubts that an entire society can be put through such a transformation, all he needs to do is study the Chinese Cultural Revolution. He can also study the rise and installation of National Socialism during 1930s Germany.

When a person becomes confused about who and what they are, they become vulnerable and easily manipulated. Those who are confused about basic reality are at higher risk to accept irrational belief systems. Totalitarianism depends on disordering the people’s thoughts by throwing them into confusion over the most basic things. One way to accomplish confusion is to change the meaning of the ordinary words people use, for example the words we use to accurately describe sex and gender.

Ji leans heavily on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and the concept of “Newspeak.” However, before Nineteen Eighty-Four (his last publication), in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell examined the relationship between language and politics, and his observations here are as important as those in the novel.

George Orwell (1903-1950)

Orwell contends that the corruption of language—contamination by ideology—has caused a decay in critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Orwell argues that political language is often deliberately designed to obfuscate meaning—and that this is done to obscure reality and manipulate public opinion. This kind of language is characterized by meaningless words and phrases and pretentious verbiage used to create the illusion of clarity and precision. Orwell insists that language should be used to express ideas rather than conceal them, and that in the spirit of conveying rational and true ideas, writers should strive for clarity and precision in language use.

To summarize, words do two things: (a) describe reality; (b) manufacture reality. Describing reality is a rational act; the goal is to keep people grounded and coordinating activities around real things. Manufacturing reality is the work of the manipulators, the people who mean to dominate us through control over our minds.

To be sure, sometimes we need new words or to respecify them to convey discoveries or novel insights. But that’s part of describing reality. That’s not the problem we’re talking about. We’re talking about the alteration of the meanings of words or common knowledge of history and situations in order to manipulate us. We are moreover talking about the way the standards of dialogue have been trashed to get around the rational demands for fact and logic. Watch this brief video for a brilliant analysis of the moment:

Matt Goldblatt identifying the source of language contamination in the current period.

Academia, the administrative state, the corporate media, the culture industry—all these institutions have been captured by a revolution-from-above that is changing the language in order to steer the people into supporting its agenda: the agenda of the transnational corporate state, i.e., global totalitarian monopoly capitalism. Citizens are being disordered to prepare them for reintegration in a new order, one that abolishes democracy and liberalism.

Have you read Nineteen Eighty-Four? No? You should. If you have already, read it again. Update it in your mind to fit today’s situation. The Party is inventing external enemies to frighten the masses (Russia is portrayed as the great threat, while the real threat of China is downplayed or ignored). The Party is punishing crimethink, i.e., thought crimes. You get the picture.

Below is a conversation with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has thrown his hat in the ring for the presidency. This is a long interview, so you may not have time to listen to the whole thing. But at the very least, you must watch the brief opening. Kennedy crystalizes the problem we are facing.

Watch through the first opening salvo, where Kennedy talks about totalitarian desire

Steel yourself now before you lose the ability to reason. The time to recognize totalitarianism is not after it has been fully installed. The most effect totalitarianism will make it impossible to resist. Your brothers and sisters will regard themselves as perfectly free. The time to recognize totalitarianism is when you can still resist its installation.

The solution to the problem of anomie, Durkheim argued, is the development of strong social norms and institutions that provide individuals with a sense of purpose and belonging. Our founders provided those norms and institutions. We don’t need to develop an alternative to woke progressivism. We just need to reclaim the American Creed.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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