What are some examples of Ur-Fascist Newspeak?

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The Politicus
Feb 02, 2022 01:30 AM 0 Answers
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I'm a big proponent of Umberto Eco's definition of Fascism that he gives in his essay Ur-Fascism; I find it really helps break down the very nebulous and poorly defined - but unmistakeable - concept of "fascistness". Most of the points are pretty self-explanatory and self-evident (cult of tradition, machismo, action for action's sake etc). However, I'm stuck on his final feature of fascism:

  1. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in 1984, as the official language of Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

This is very unclear to me - what could this refer to? I find it very difficult to link it to any fascist movements, old and new - language reform isn't exactly top of the fascist agenda. And the last sentence seems to imply an almost Mcluhan-ist ("the medium is the message") interpretation, which doesn't relate to the rest of the point. To take it literally, reducing the ability of oppressed groups to express and understand their oppression by physically reducing their vocabulary would be a very effective tactic, but - he says it himself - that's only plausible in fiction like 1984. Even the strictest, most prescriptivist language academy doesn't have that much control. Finally, there's my final idea that it's talking about new vocabulary - i.e "Fuhrer", "Duce", "Lebensraum", "Fuhrerprinzip" - but that's common to all new movements, requiring new language to communicate new concepts. Does anyone have any examples or alternative interpretations?

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  • February 2, 2022