06 November 2006

1984 - 2050?

Today on the News Ltd website a new blog, Blogocracy began. On the evidence of today's prolific output, and the author, Tim Dunlop 's , other blog , he will look at local and world affairs from a different perspective from most of the other News Ltd columnists/ bloggers. This is most welcome.

Having said this I thought that one of his posts today "I'll stop calling the Howard Government Orwellian" went over the top. Although he refers to the Appendix to 1984 in which Orwell outlines the principles of Newspeak (the artificial language which aims to prevent the expression of ideas at odds with official ideology), he accuses the Howard government, or more accurately Parliamentary Secretary Robb of being Orwellian for seeking a replacement for the term "multicultural".

Mr Robb may be able to come up with another term to replace "multicultural" ("diversity", "harmony"?) but I'd be surprised if it happened suddenly, as IMO the word has taken root in Australian public (if not everyday) parlance. All governments, and political parties (not to mention many other bodies), seek to manipulate language for their own ends, yet for Dunlop to imply that the Howard government somehow stands alone on its own axis of linguistic evil is to overstate his case. In fact in his elaboration of his headline he waters down his argument considerably, but it's the echo of the headline which remains in the mind. In the 1984 Appendix Orwell said that didn't expect Newspeak to be completely established in his dystopian society until about 2050. Perhaps the novel should now be renamed (or subtitled) "2050"?

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