The Loss of Liberty and the Twisting of Language

By J. Luis Dizon

 George Orwell’s landmark novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, depicts a totalitarian state named Oceania that arises out of the ashes of the post-war-free world. The state has become a god unto itself, as personified by the omnipresent face of “Big Brother” and the all-seeing eye of the state’s telescreens (giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “the walls have ears”).

As though he were a prophet of God, Orwell’s novel describes with frightening accuracy the agenda of the Secularist proponents of Modern Liberalism,[1] in terms of its worldview, goals and methods. Ideas such as “doublethink,” “thought-crime,” and “newspeak” characterize the propaganda and argumentation of Secular Left, and we see this in the many ways the Left has influenced Canadian society, resulting in the erosion of its historic Christian foundations.

Freedom is Slavery

In Nineteen Eight-Four, the state of Oceania runs according to an ideology called “Ingsoc” (short for “English Socialism”). Under this ideology, the state controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives, right down to what time you wake up in the morning and what your morning exercises are. Right to privacy does not exist, as the state has telescreens and other monitoring devices in every room and street corner, giving them virtual omniscience and zero freedom to the individual. Furthermore, the state completely controls the children, imparting its values onto them through its schools and children’s programs. A child’s loyalty to the state overrides their loyalty to their own parents, such that children are encouraged to denounce their parents and report them to the authorities if they are caught saying or doing anything contrary to the state’s ideology.

This is exactly how the Secular Left operates. Because their worldview does not operate with the God of the Bible in view, they end up deifying the state (the Communist regimes of the twentieth century being the most blatant examples of this, although it happens in more subtle ways as well). Therefore, the state has the right to remake its citizens according to its own image. By and large, Secular Humanists often advocate a form of left-wing politics that is based on increasing the size and scope of government, giving it control over aspects of its citizens’ lives that do not otherwise belong under its jurisdiction. In Orwellian terms: “Freedom is Slavery.” Writing for the American Thinker, Marvin Folkertsma notes:

 Orwellian liberalism assumes that citizens’ own decisions to live their lives pretty much as they please constitute slavery to someone or another in a so-called “free country,” which is why Big Brother in the form of the nanny state is becoming so enormous, so oppressive.[2]

As an example of this, we see how the state enforces its own brand of ethics via the sex-education and LGBT awareness programs in schools. If parents object to what is taught, they have no right to opt their children out of these programs or even be notified when objectionable material is taught. The recent case of Steve Tourloukis of Hamilton is a good example of this. He requested advance notice of when the school his children go to would teach material that contradicts his moral views. This request was denied, even though he had the right to such information under the Education Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[3] Yet because the state-run school board sees itself as being responsible for moulding the values of the youth, it will override the rights of parents over their own children.

This control over citizens’ lives extends even in the area of thought. When a certain belief is branded “hate,” to express that belief in speech or writing becomes a punishable offense. This is what Orwell refers to as “thoughtcrime,” i.e. ideas that are contrary to the ideology of the secular status quo. This is epitomized in Canada by the Human Rights Commissions, which routinely punish individuals for perceived “hate crimes,” according to its own definition of what that means.[4]

The Manipulation of Facts

Even though Secular Leftists seek to take away freedom and impose its will upon everyone, it is frightening how many people go along willingly with their agenda. This is because the Left manipulates the truth via the media and the public education system in order to win the impressionable over to their cause.

This is another tactic that comes straight out of Nineteen Eight-Four. In the novel, the party controls all the information. If they want to make up statistics and historical facts out of thin air, they can do so, and nobody can contradict them. They also run “Two Minutes’ Hate” sessions where citizens are encouraged to hurl all of their derision upon the state’s designated enemies.

Similarly, our educational institutions (which are largely controlled by these Liberal Secularists) suppress ideas that run counter to their agenda, punishing academics who attempt to express contrary viewpoints. Also, the Secular Left is able to spin things so that they are the total opposite of what they really are. For example, they claim that Christianity has historically denied people their human rights, and that even today, Conservative Christians want to punish people for what they do in their bedrooms. This is false, of course; Christians are out to do no such things. On the contrary, the Liberals want to make everyone pay for others’ illicit sexual acts via the forced subsidising of birth control, abortions and sex-change surgeries—never mind the violations of conscience that results from this.

Also, the claim that Christianity has historically oppressed people is also false. Historically, the Christian Church has been the greatest advocate of human rights. The early church saved those infants that would have been killed through infanticide. The abolition of slavery in the 19th century was made possible by Evangelical Christians such as William Wilberforce, John Newton and John Brown. The great missionary William Carey helped to bring about the abolition of the practice of widow-burning in India. These are just a few examples of how Christianity has brought about the advancement of human rights throughout the world.[5] Furthermore, Christianity, through its teaching that all human beings are made in God’s image (cf. Genesis 1:26-28) provides a stable foundation for human worth and dignity. As Francis Schaeffer once noted, man “is … wonderful as God made him in His image. Man has value because of who he was originally before the Fall.”[6] Because Secular Humanism can provide no such basis, a system built upon a secular worldview is doomed to result in an erosion of human rights.

They have also mastered the “Two Minutes’ Hate” by inciting Leftist activists and protestors to mindlessly chant slogans and rage against those who express support for protecting the unborn or preserving the family the way God has designed it. Just label someone a “bigot,” “racist,” “sexist,” or any number of pejorative terms, and the mobs will react in a pre-programmed manner against their targets. One is strongly reminded of Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, which were conditioned to salivate whenever they hear a bell ring. In the same way, the way that many in the current generation react when such words are thrown about in the public square is not at all rational, but is totally Pavlovian, resulting from the conditioning that has resulted from a thoroughly secularised media and educational system.

Newspeak and Doublethink

The most pernicious form of thought control that the Left engages in is the manipulation of words. Historian Conyers Read has said, “Words are weapons, often the most dangerous type of weapons.”[7] In winning hearts and minds, nothing is more important than framing the terms of the debate. Do that, and you’ve won half the battle. This is done by defining words in such a way that they convey whatever one wants them to mean.

This is just like what Orwell described as “Newspeak.” This is the artificial language that the state produced by changing the meanings of words, removing words from the vocabulary and destroying the ability of people to express contrary thoughts in the proper words. This results in what Orwell called “doublethink” i.e. the holding of two contradictory ideas, or saying one thing and meaning another. This is exemplified by the party slogan: “War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.”

We see the Secular Left creating its own brand of Newspeak by how it has twisted words such as “equity,” “diversity,” “anti-racism,” and “unity”—the Left’s favourite glittering generalities. Often, these words are taken to mean the opposite of what they really mean. Even the very word “Liberalism” has been subjected to Newspeak. Classical Liberalism denoted respect for individuals’ right to order their own lives and conduct their own businesses free from extortionate taxation and regulation—the very ideals Modern Liberals are seeking to destroy. In a very ironic way, there is nothing more illiberal than Modern Liberalism.

As another example, they will define “tolerance” in such a way that they will be shown no tolerance for those whose opinions differ from theirs, all the while accusing the other side of being intolerant. They will define “diversity” and in such a way that those who hold to traditional moral values are excluded. Pro-life, pro-family, pro-capitalist and other such views are neither tolerated nor accepted in this society of “tolerance” and “diversity.” Such twisting of words is not a new phenomenon. The prophet Isaiah once spoke those who even in his day twist words in such a manner:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21, ESV)

If the Orwellian twisting of words was taking place even in the days of the Old Testament prophets, then we truly see a confirmation of the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon once stated (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:9). The Bible states in so many places and in so many ways that the human heart is desperately wicked, and will corrupt the truth by any means necessary.

 A Time for Action

Conyers Read posed this question before the American Historical Association: “In the end, we assure ourselves, the truth will prevail. But what about in the meantime?”[8] The answer is that those of us who are Christians must resist the Orwellian onslaught of the Secular Left and fight and bring back clarity and sanity to public discourse. We must reclaim those words that the Secular Left has re-defined. Tolerance, equity, diversity—these are perfectly good words, and we must not allow Leftists to take them from us. Furthermore, we must not allow them to label us. We are none of the things they often accuse us of being. The Christian worldview is the worldview of love, tolerance, and justice—when these terms are understood properly. Christians are to change the world, in accordance with Christ’s command for us to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are light in the sense that we bring clarity to discussion, and act as salt in the sense that we help to preserve the moral fabric of society, thus protecting it from the erosion of freedom and morals that Liberalism is bringing to bear upon us all.

[1] This term used is in opposition to Classical Liberalism, which ironically is the exact opposite of Modern Liberalism. For convenience purposes, the word “Liberalism” will hereafter be used to refer to the latter, unless stated otherwise.

[2] Folkertsma, Marvin. “America’s Orwellian Liberalism.” American Thinker. Accessed September 15, 2012.

[3] “Hamilton dad takes school board to court over gay equity policy” Metro News. September 11, 2012.

[4] The HRCs’ abuses of freedom are well documented. The most thorough treatment of this issue can be found in Ezra Levant’s groundbreaking book, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (McClelland and Stewart, 2009).

[5] A more thorough treatment of this topic is provided by Rodney Stark in his book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Random House, 2006).

[6] Shcaeffer, Francis A. Escape from Reason (London: InterVarsity, 1968), 21.

[7] Read, Conyers. The Social Responsibilities of the Historian. The American Historical Association, 1949.

[8] Read, The Social Responsibilities of the Historian.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s