Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Oldspeak, Newspeak, alternative facts, and mind control

George Orwell's point is that the changing of the definitions of words changes how we think about such concepts. Capitalism originally was a revolutionary ideology saying that the big government firms of the European empires were not just bad for the people but also bad for the economy as a whole. Instead, we should have an economy where the means of production are owned by diverse interests not concentrated whenever possible. This exists in Europe today. The word has been evolved to mean a system very similar to the mercantilism the early capitalists oppposed, and day to day indistinguishable from the mercantilism of old. This is the same tool used by Oceania in 1984 to control the thoughts of the people, and is effective by cutting people off from their philosophical ancestors. Propaganda has become fake news, making it seem more like the onion than Pravda. Alternative facts are lies, another Orwellian trick.

History of Newspeak

We have seen this reversal of definitions to the point where they are the opposite of what they originally mean, when white is black and socialism is capitalism. The complete reversal of the definition of capitalism, (which I'm not sure exactly how it evolved over the last 50 years) has been far too quick to have happened organically. Roosevelt was lauded as "saving capitalism" for the new deal and banking regulation, meaning the reversal has happened since 1945, so we are down to a maximum of 70 years. Chomsky refers to the US and Western European nations (which are frequently called "socialist" today) as "capitalist democracies" in the 1970s ( so assuming Chomsky was using vernacular it would then be within the last 40 years. If we look at Germany the SPD was fairly radical before the 1970s when Willi Brandt and Helmut Schmidt transformed the party into the Keynesian capitalist party (sorry for the redundancy) it is today. I expect the transformation of the word from meaning a free market to a corporatocracy/mercantilist system then would have happened under Reagan in the US, Thatcher in Britain, and other leaders during the 1980s, meaning a 180 degree turn around in its meaning over no more than 30 years in how the media talks about "capitalism".

The word socialism does extend further back in time, to Louis Blanc who founded the school of "state socialism", defined as being the government controlling some industries. The issue with this is that capitalist philosophers also think that the government had a role in natural monopolies. The difference from limited government intervention from capitalism is indistinguishable, because a government involved in the economy is part of all capitalist thought. A government which controls all the means of production is also indistinguishable from Marxism. State socialism can mean either term, making the term meaningless. Bismarck's policies in Germany were derided as "state socialism" by opponents, as were the policies of the Soviet Union. These two systems are similar in almost no way at all in reality, making the term almost useless.

Anarchism as well is often described as being "socialist". Marx of course believed that the final stage of his theory would be anarchism. He also believed that it doesn't matter if government is democratic or a dictatorship, because the "capitalists" would control society either way. (1848 Papers)

This is the inherent problem with the word socialism. Someone who believes in no government or a dictatorship can be called a socialist. Someone who believes in a mixed economy with limited government intervention and someone who believes in a command economy like North Korea are both socialist. A Democrat and Dictator, both socialist. A person who believes the government needs limited government intervention is often described as being a socialist and agrees with every capitalist philospher. Someone who believes in the eventual monopolization of all unions (syndicalism) is a socialist, but one doesn't have to believe in that to be a socialist. Socialists argue that accumulation of capital is bad, but this was one of the major goals of early capitalist thought. The definitions of state socialism and state capitalism are poorly distinguished in economic thought.

Capitalism on the other hand agrees on some very basic concepts. 1. Free markets are generally good, but not always in the case of absolute monopolies. 2. Private property is important for growth. Capitalism is an anti-slavery ideology. 3. Democracy is good. 4. When people are left to make their own decisions they generally will make the right decision as a group, with some exceptions when it comes to externalities. The recognition of a government role in infrastructure and health care which do not work in an unregulated framework has been recognized by capitalism since the early 1800s if not earlier. Adam Smith said the state should exist to "administer justice, enforce private property rights, and defending the nation against aggression" which are not specific in what particular actions government can take. This view is still held by all capitalists. Capitalism has expanded to counter-cyclical policy, which is often described as socialist, and our understanding of how and when markets fail has expanded over 200 years leading capitalism to be more specific on what "administering justice" means. That is an important reality of the early capitalist philosophers in they were clear about their goals, leaving room for interpretation on how exactly government should administer justice. The end goals however, liberty for all, and competitive markets among others, are still the end goals of capitalism. In this sense capitalism is and has always been a consequentialist school of thought. A dictator can not be described as a capitalist because there isn't the free movement of capital under dictatorships. All capitalists agree that there is a role for government in achieving a competitive free economy where all can compete fairly. This is NOT the policy of the Republican Party and right wing democrats like Nancy Pelosi which is much more in line with a variation of the Mercantilism of old.

History of Alternative Facts

Lies and the belief in there being alternate realities has become mainstream in American politics. I have known Fox viewers insisting on how everything I say is "from my point of view" for years now, which stops all further investigation into the reality of what is happening, because they believe that reality is whatever they perceive. This hasn't always been mainstream in American philosophy, when back in the day we would turn to Walter Cronkite and other more or less non-partisan journalists who reported the reality of what is happening. The 1990s we see the beginning of this, with the formation of Fox News which has spearheaded this alternative reality, from their lies of how Obamacare failed, the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, and how crime in the 1990s effected African American communities, among so many other lies.

This is why I speak oldspeak, and insist that activists speak oldspeak, because newspeak is a form of mind control.

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