An interesting example of Newspeak in UK social and political life is provided by the ancient word treason. In George Orwell’s 1984, much of the power of Newspeak came from making a huge number of politically undesirable words obsolete. A similar thing is occurring today with the word treason, which has kept to its original meaning for about 800 years, but thanks to the EU project is now falling into disuse. Or rather it is being made into what Newspeak might call an unword. Absurd though it may be, many people dare not use it.
The online Oxford Dictionary defines treason as:-
also high treason [mass noun] the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government.
Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French treisoun, from Latin traditio(n-) ‘handing over’, from the verb tradere.
Note the apt derivation from handing over. Treason as a word for political discourse, as opposed to any legal connotations, retains its accuracy as a way to describe the activities of, for example, the late and unlamented Edward Heath who lied about the federal intentions of the EEC. Sedition, related in meaning, has suffered the same fate. It’s no accident of course – these things never are. The EU project requires treason to be purged from Newspeak.
William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) was the last person in the UK to be put to death for treason, in 1946. Since those hard-nosed days, social and political change in the UK have discouraged the use of the word treason to describe the rather obviously treasonous activities of successive UK political parties, Prime Ministers, government ministers and government employees – all in relation to the EU federal project.
Once these changes in genteel verbal behaviour take place, a degree of isolation sets in where those awkward souls outside genteel political society are able to describe political changes more accurately than those on the inside. Those on the outside retain the ability to think and use words as they see fit. Rather like naughty children, those on the inside are not enamoured of older, more accurate ways of describing what they do. Naturally they have no wish to be associated with William Joyce but refuse to acknowledge the parallels.
It is for example, difficult for Lib-Dem MPs to talk about UK engagement with the EU without the extensive use of euphemisms such as isolated, a word presumably meant to describe global life beyond the EU. I know it doesn’t make sense, but they make frequent use of it, as does the BBC. If accused of treason, they would probably rely on mild abuse such as the widely-used little Englander epithet, or an affected type of amused superiority. We know it because we’ve seen it.
Those of us outside genteel political society have a problem here, because it is no use knowing how to use the word treason correctly if many others don’t. It is all too easy to sound extreme, eccentric or simply beyond the pale. Even a post such as this is quite difficult to write because there are so many people who have been induced to avoid the word as inappropriate or old-fashioned.
Newspeak really works – as the word treason testifies very well indeed. Many people today would have difficulty using it, even though the meaning is quite clear and circumstances where it is appropriate occur all the time. Even so, it seems to me that the word is still worth using, but either with great panache or some care.
After all, treason is how the EU project is being imposed on previously democratic states. It has been the right word for 800 years and still is, however much the genteel political classes may cringe at such harsh and uncouth language. Let them cringe and be grateful for nothing worse, because serial traitors surely deserve their traditional dues.