Throughout the week, we looked at examples of Orwellian advertising. And elsewhere at Pajamas, Michael Ledeen writes that there’s “a global resurgence of Orwellian newspeak, in which the powers that be rewrite history every day”:
So here’s Comrade Stalin’s grandson, Mr. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, who is outraged that anybody could write a story saying that his grandforther “had ordered the killings of Soviet citizens.” He’s asking for $300,000 from the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and some additional damages from the offending author. Dzugashvili has found the attorney of his dreams, a Stalinist by the name of Leonid Zhura who is shocked and enraged by the article, which, by the way, was based on declassified Kremlin documents.
Al Reuters provides a series of quotations from Zhura that are worthy of Mel Brooks’ finest spoofs of the Fuhrer:
“Half a century of lies have been poured over Stalin’s reputation and he cannot defend himself from the grave so this case is essential to put the record straight…We want to rehabilitate Stalin. He turned populations into peoples, he presided over a golden era in literature and the arts, he was a real leader…” And Zhura was particularly enraged by the claim that “the secret police committed grave crimes against their own people.”
To which al Reuters adds its own deep thoughts, suitably even-handed for that icon of political correctness:
The many sides of the Stalin myth — bloody tyrant and war leader, pipe-smoking Kremlin puppet master and economic miracle worker — are still the subject of a heated debate in Russia…
I was left scratching at the remaining follicles on my head, wondering about that “economic miracle worker” bit. So far as I know, Stalin’s most (in)famous economic accomplishment was orchestrating a great famine that killed off million in Ukraine.
You might be tempted to write it off as a Russian aberration, but it isn’t; it is part of a global resurgence of Orwellian newspeak, in which the powers that be rewrite history every day. After all, we live in a world where the American president invents all manner of nonsense about Muslim history (all that wonderful toleration in Spain during the Inquisition, the invention of printing, which was actually brought to the Middle East by Jews who published in Hebrew), and where the Iranian president inveighs against the “myth of the Holocaust” and still gets invited to dinner by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Orwell’s seminal “Politics and the English Language” essay from 1946 has never been more relevant.