Orwellian Euphemisms, pt 1 Academic Freedom

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.

Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought…

George Orwell, 1984, Appendix 1949

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another…

…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… 

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. 

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946

Academic Freedom. This lovely phrase is supposed to mean that academics are free to pursue whatever line of thinking they want without having to worry about being attacked. Only their peers are qualified to criticize them, as everyone else is assumed to lack the necessary expertise to understand them. Think of it this way: you hire a plumber or an auto mechanic, but are forbidden to judge their work. Instead, only other plumbers and auto mechanics can say if the drain drains or car runs well. Even though you paid for the work, you are in fact prohibited from raising any issues, lest you infringe on the sacred freedom of the plumbers and mechanics, whose arts and mysteries are outside your ken, you commoner, you.

That’s academic freedom. (1) What could possibly go wrong?

In the mean old days, before we had academic freedom enshrined as a foundational principle of our universities, without which certain unspecified evils were sure to beset us, people like provosts and parents and financial backers assumed they had a say in who taught and what they taught. They could get professors fired for being immoral or teaching treasonous or merely insane things.

In addition to the merely pedestrian libertines among the professorial class, Marxists, Freudians, and other frauds didn’t like this state of affairs. So, by the 1930s, anytime anyone attacked academics for being frauds or traitors or simply lunatics, all the good people would circle the wagons and declare: academic freedom! All criticisms, no matter how reasonable, are summarily dismissed as lacking standing. All sorts of idiocy and evil are thus immunized from attack.

This use of “academic freedom“ has proven indispensable to Marxists and their useful idiots as they took over the schools. Insiders were subject to political power plays; outsiders were excluded from the discussion.

Thus, 18 year olds are subject to a homogenous intellectual environment, where they’ll never hear any professor say, for example, that the idea that everything is a social construct is self refuting and moronically stupid. Nope, all they’ll see are heads nodding in agreement. This complete homogeneity of thought, this utter enslavement of academics to a single school of ‘thought,’ in fact, enslavement to a single political idea, is the necessary and intended result of academic freedom.

  1. Yes, college professors are glorified plumbers and mechanics, only much less useful. I went there.
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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

7 thoughts on “Orwellian Euphemisms, pt 1 Academic Freedom”

  1. Well, of course they are less useful… they have negative social utility. At least most plumbers and mechanics have some degree of positive social utility. (I say this a college student who has only accidentally missed out on the huge debts my peers usually have.)

    1. That’s part of why profs tend to be the most thin-skinned, belligerently classist people you’ll ever meet. They know they (mostly) provide no value (either at all, or above replacement player), and so defend their specialness with animal viciousness.

  2. I think that’s why we have so many academics concerned about “overpopulation.” Assuming that everyone is like them, and they are net resource-consumers, not net resource-producers, all they can see is too many mouths to feed. And yet one gets the impression that in the coming population shake-out, they are the ones that will be spared, rather than the farmers, say, who “consume” many acres of valuable land that could be habitat for lions and snail darters.

    1. Right up until the rule: “what can’t go on must stop” kicks in. Even academics need farmers; farmers hardly need academics. Doesn’t mean it won’t be real messy at first.

      Also, not sure at all about what happened in fact (I’m really pretty weak on history), but given how many radicals in the Russian Revolution were students (and professors?) , and given that the one thing a victorious revolutionary cannot tolerate are other revolutionaries (the right skill set for overthrowing things is the wrong skill set for running things, plus they might get ideas), it would surprise me if the ranks of academia were not seriously thinned, eventually, after Lenin came to power.

      1. First sentences from “Dictatorship for Dummies” Chapter 3. (The chapter that describes what to do after you have taken control)

        Congratulations! Your revolution has succeeded! Now that you are in control, there are certain things that you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO. The first of these is to kill or imprison all of the revolutionaries. This is necessary because when they come to realize, as they very quickly will, that the revolution was actually all about you, and not about them, they will start to plan a counter-revolution. These people are very dangerous, as they have already overthrown one government, and know how to do it. You don’t want to be their next victim.

        (OK, this isn’t a real book. But if it was …)

      2. That’s not a real book? You should write it.

        Machiavelli says: as soon a you take over, figure out who you’re going to need to kill, and do it. You’re asking for trouble if you put it off. Of course, he was smart enough to have laughed off the idea of a popular revolution – he knew that one or a few people who want power *use* the people to gain power. The rare popular uprising, where ‘the people’ decide to burn a few building and minor nobility, is left to peter out – a few days, tops, unless there are leaders to keep it going – then the authorities round up the troublemakers and dispose of them, or enough of them, to make their point.

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