Out of all of Orwell’s essays, this one particularly stood out to me because it addresses the degradation of
our language. The element, the nature of deceit that language in political terms begets, weakens the integrity of thought, as well as our speech.
The word “fascist” immediately means anything that is quote-unquote “unpleasant”, anything that is distinctly outside of democracy. Meanwhile, we find it difficult to define “democracy” as anything more than a quote-unquote “good-natured” political state that merely involves voting and freedom of speech. I doubt if anyone desires a more correct understanding of the word because we enjoy the comfortable, polite lies that this careless denotation creates for us. We choose to function in the subjective world of connotation, because it spares us the effort of communicating our opinions, and it eludes the harsh reality of specifics. Vague jargon is reassuring, and every day, we delude ourselves with words.
After all, and I quote from Franz Kafka’s The Trial, “it gives me the feeling of something very learned, forgive me if what I say is stupid, it gives me the feeling of something learned which I don’t understand, but which there is no need to understand.”