Freedom Is Slavery

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. — George Orwell

Doublespeak, the political use of language to say one thing but mean another, was a subject George Orwell spent a great deal of time writing about. Although the term is generally associated with Nineteen Eighty-Four the excerpt above was taken from Politics and the English Language, a nonfiction work penned by Orwell on the use of language as it pertains to politics.

Although doublespeak is used by politicians at all times it is most heavily used during times of emergency. France is now under a state of emergency and its president is employing doublespeak to convince his subjects that what he’s doing is for their benefit:

“We will eradicate terrorism because we are committed to freedom and the influence of France throughout the world,” Mr. Hollande.

What does Mr. Hollande mean by freedom? Slavery:

The president said he wants parliament to update and potentially expand his powers under France’s state of emergency statute while extending the current state of emergency for three months.

Created during the Algerian war in 1955, the state of emergency gives authorities far-reaching powers including banning travel in certain areas, shutting shops and concert halls.

The interior minister can ban people from leaving their homes, and the state can take “all measures” to control the press and radio. Searches can be undertaken without sign-off from a judge, and those who refuse to comply can be fined and held in custody for up to two months.

To account for technological advances since the 1950s, Mr. Hollande asked lawmakers to update the state of emergency law on confining individuals to their homes and search seizure. Faced with a war on terror, constitutional laws relating to wars on foreign soil should be updated so the president can take exceptional measures without resorting to a state of emergency, he said.

Imprisoning people in their homes, censoring the press, and performing searches without so much as permission from a judge are powers people tend to associate with tyranny. But Mr. Hollande isn’t satisfied with just those measures, he wants even more power. It’s rather ironic that he, a self-declared socialist, is so open about wanting a return to overt serfdom.

What we’re seeing in France isn’t some kind of exception to the rule. States are nothing more than gangs of thieves and like all thieves they become greedier over time. The State might start small, asking only for a small percentage of the profits you make on your whisky, but it will exploit every “emergency” to increase its plunder. A war may justify a “temporary” taking of a percent of your profits on tobacco. Another war may justify a “temporary” taking of a percentage of your profits on everything you sell. Some minor scuffle with a foreign nation may lead to a “temporary” import fee on goods you buy in that nation. An economic failure may lead to a “temporary” taking of a percent of all of your income for “recovery” programs. Temporary is doublespeak for permanent and it’s always related to the transference of wealth from the people to the State.

Emergency powers are merely another tool in the State’s toolbox. It allows it to steal from anybody is can label a counter-revolutionary, enemy of the state, or terrorist. By simply declaring a state of emergency a government can justify searching houses for valuables, stealing any discovered valuables, and imprisoning the rightful owners all by applying a simple label to them.

This is why emergency powers always target citizens. War serves the purpose of stealing from foreign nations but doublespeak must be used to steal from the citizenry because if they become too unhappy a neighboring gang could decided to “liberate” them and enjoy popular support instead of resistance.