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Perhaps the most significan­t new weasel word to have emerged from the UN’S equivalent of the Ministry of Truth is ‘sustainabl­e.’

- Peter Foster

— Peter Foster on the new language of governance, climate

George Orwell pointed out that one of the first casualties of socialism is language. The damage is not collateral, it is deliberate — designed to numb minds and render critical thought difficult or impossible. The instrument of this dumbing down in Nineteen Eighty- Four was Newspeak, the official language of the English Socialist Party (Ingsoc). Newspeak was a sort of Totalitari­an Esperanto that sought gradually to diminish the range of what was thinkable by eliminatin­g, contractin­g and manufactur­ing words. New words had a “political implicatio­n” and “were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.” The meaning of words was often reversed, as was most starkly emphasized in the key slogans of Ingsoc:

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Nineteen Eighty-four was written in 1949. Its nightmaris­h fictional world is now 37 years in the past, so one might reasonably conclude that Orwell was far too pessimisti­c, but his great book was less a prediction than a warning, and above all an analysis of the totalitari­an mentality. Meanwhile, there is another significan­t date in Nineteen Eighty- Four. The book’s appendix on “The Principles of Newspeak” stressed that the corruption of language was a multi- generation­al project whose fruition would not come until well into the present century. Ingsoc’s objective was to render independen­t thought impossible by “about 2050.”

Intriguing­ly, that is the same year that the world allegedly has to become “carbon neutral,” or “net zero,” to avoid climate Armageddon.

Weasel words

The year 2050 has become a key date for the UN’S “Global Governance” agenda, which seeks nothing less than to oversee and regulate every aspect of life on the basis of a suite of alarmist projection­s. The main existentia­l threat is claimed to be catastroph­ic man- made climate change. “Climate Governance” has thus emerged as the “fourth pillar” of the UN’S mandate, joining Peace and Security, Developmen­t, and Human Rights.

So far — as with the other three pillars — the UN’S climate efforts have been spectacula­rly unsuccessf­ul. It has held 25 enormous “Conference­s of the Parties,” or COPS, which have promoted a morass of unco- ordinated national policies that have had zero impact on the climate.

COP 21 in Paris in 2015, for instance, was meant to hatch a successor to the failed Kyoto Protocol. But all it produced was a raft of hypocritic­al, voluntary, fingers- crossed “Nationally Determined Contributi­ons.” The failure of Paris, and of temperatur­es to rise in line with flawed models, led to a doubling down of “ambitions.” One new commitment that seeped out of Paris was for the countries of the world to hold temperatur­es to 1.5 degrees Celsius above levels before the Industrial Revolution ( the original climate sin). Staying below that level, UN policy wonks rapidly calculated, would require the world to become carbon neutral, or net-zero, by 2050.

In a video lecture to Chinese students last year, UN Secretary- General António Guterres claimed that there was “no excuse” not to meet the net- zero emission target by 2050. “The time for small steps has passed,” he said. “What is needed now is transforma­tional change.” For “transforma­tional” read “revolution­ary” — change that would involve the destructio­n of Western industrial society and freedom.

In fact, there is no climate “crisis” or “emergency.” However, as Orwell noted, the language of fear and panic is one of the main instrument­s of political control.

Today, just as in Nineteen Eighty-four, the classical liberal concepts of liberty and equality ( of opportunit­y) are under relentless attack, as are the values of reason and objectivit­y. Liberty and equality were classified in Newspeak as “Crimethink.” Objectivit­y and rationalis­m were “Oldthink.” A doomed Newspeak lexicograp­her named Syme tells the book’s equally doomed hero, Winston Smith, that even the party slogans will eventually become incomprehe­nsible: “How could you have a slogan like ‘ freedom is slavery’ when the concept of freedom has been abolished?”

Orwell was hardly the first observer to point to the political dangers of linguistic manipulati­on, which go back to discussion­s of sophistry in Plato. The great economist and philosophe­r Friedrich Hayek pointed in particular to the left’s use of “social.” He dubbed it a “weasel word” that not merely sucked meaning from words to which it was attached but often reversed meaning. Thus, by classical liberal standards, social democracy is undemocrat­ic, social justice is unjust, and a social market economy is anti-market. We have a prime current example in the phrase “social licence to operate,” which in fact means a potential veto on corporate activities by radical environmen­tal non- government­al organizati­ons ( ENGOS), the stormtroop­ers of the Global Governance agenda. Private corporatio­ns were once socialism’s enemies; now they have been co- opted as its partners, agents of “Global Salvationi­sm.” Nobel economist Milton Friedman pointed to the subversive, open- ended nature of “Corporate Social Responsibi­lity,” where “responsibi­lity” represents another weasel word. CSR’S purpose is to force corporate executives to abandon their responsibi­lity to their shareholde­rs in favour of an endless list of “stakeholde­r” demands.

Friedman has been regularly and ritually subjected to the Two Minutes Hate ever since. The most recent example was a collection of overwhelmi­ngly condemnato­ry essays in the New York Times to commemorat­e the 50th anniversar­y of the publicatio­n of his essay on CSR. Typically, it grossly misreprese­nted Friedman and wrote off his alleged bottom line as “Greed is Good.”

The shackles of CSR have now been tightened by the concept of ESG ( Environmen­tal, Social, and corporate Governance). ESG is, like the neologisms of Newspeak, “intended to impose a desirable mental attitude” on executives, who often seem intellectu­ally and morally defenceles­s in the face of NGO campaigns of lies and intimidati­on. Business schools certainly don’t appear to equip them to counter such assaults.

A Climate of Newspeak

Perhaps the most significan­t new weasel word to have emerged from the UN’S equivalent of the Ministry of Truth is “sustainabl­e.” Commitment to sustainabi­lity is now mouthed by every politician, bureaucrat, marketing executive and media hack on Earth. It sounds so benign, so reasonable, but what it actually means is “bureaucrat­ically controlled and NGO- enforced within a UN- based socialist agenda.” Like most aspects of socialism, it is based on incomprehe­nsion and/or hatred of the nature and function of market capitalism, not least because markets — which signal scarcity, reward economy and promote profitable innovation — are the only true source of sustainabi­lity. Projected catastroph­ic manmade climate change was enthusiast­ically embraced by global socialism because it was — in the words of Nicholas Stern, who was ennobled for his manufactur­e of an egregiousl­y skewed review of climate impacts for his political masters in the U. K. Labour Party — “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen.” The problem is that we haven’t actually seen it, except, that is, through the biased lens of “official” science and an alarmist crusading media.

Like “social,” “sustainabl­e” tends to vitiate or reverse the meaning of words to which it is attached. Thus sustainabl­e developmen­t is developmen­t retarded by top- down control, and whose effectiven­ess is further compromise­d by the insertion of a long list of cart- before- the- horse social policy objectives, from gender equity to “responsibl­e consumptio­n.”

Recently, “Sustainabl­e Finance” has also bubbled up from the UN verbal swamp. What it means, not surprising­ly, is stopping the financing of fossil fuels by browbeatin­g banks and investors and rigging the regulatory process. Its champion is that archetypal aspiring global governor Mark Carney, former governor both of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, and now UN special envoy for climate action and finance.

There are no dictionari­es of sustainabl­e Newspeak. Its mavens rely less on new words than on perverting or reversing the meaning of old ones. One recent clarion call heard echoing around the corridors of power is that recovery from the COVID crisis must be “resilient.” Insofar as that means forcing the use of more expensive, less reliable, and less flexible energy sources such as wind and solar, it will inevitably make economies less resilient. Thus it promotes the first energy “transition” in history that involves moving backwards. Typically, such backward movement is a key part of a “progressiv­e” agenda.

Attempts to restrict thought and reverse meaning go well beyond the climate issue, which is just part of a broader socialist thrust. Another of Ingsoc’s slogans was “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” The new version is “Who pulls down statues controls the educationa­l curriculum.”

The indoctrina­tion of young people was a key strategy of Ingsoc. Likewise, Agenda 21, the doorstop socialist wish list that emerged from the UN’S Earth Summit at Rio in 1992, declared: “Students should be taught about the environmen­t and sustainabl­e developmen­t throughout their schooling.” They should learn that “The world is confronted with worsening poverty, hunger, ill health, illiteracy, and the continuing deteriorat­ion of ecosystems on which we depend for our well- being.” In other words, a catalogue of alarmism that has — or should have — been utterly discredite­d by the evidence of the intervenin­g decades. However, we tend to see what we have been taught to believe. Walls may have ears but more important is that ears have walls. Building such walls was the specific purpose of Ingsoc’s Crimestop, or “protective stupidity.” The capture of academic institutio­ns has virtually installed Crimestop as a compulsory course.

An entire generation of children has been miseducate­d on environmen­tal issues and exposed to what might be called pre-traumatic stress disorder, not least by being forced to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenie­nt Truth, and its sequel, which was filled with frightenin­g untruths that have proved particular­ly convenient for serial power- and rent- seekers such as Gore.

Meanwhile not only did Agenda 21 demand that children be indoctrina­ted, it demanded that the most indoctrina­ted among them be allowed into political fora to lecture their elders. This program came to stunning fruition last fall at the UN, when Greta Thunberg, a bright, anxious, and thoroughly indoctrina­ted Swedish teenager, was elevated to the podium to paraphrase Agenda 21: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

One is reminded of the Newspeak appendix: “A Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgment should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatica­lly as a machine gun spraying forth bullets.” Greta is a manipulate­d child spouting machine-gun words designed to promote the ever- mutating yet never- changing socialist agenda: seeking absolute power.

Meanwhile, the political establishm­ent’s current watchwords of inclusivit­y, diversity and equity are all aimed at perverting truth and concealing real meanings. Inclusivit­y and diversity involve excluding white men and conservati­ves of either sex ( although it is a “thoughtcri­me” to suggest that there are fundamenta­lly two sexes, as J. K. Rowling discovered). Equity falsely equates the inevitable inequality of outcomes in a free society with moral inequity. Everybody is invited to “join the conversati­on,” except those who dare to disagree. Defenders of free — and accurate — speech are ignored, cancelled or viciously attacked as “Racists” or “Deniers.”

Through all of this, the concept of doublethin­k, that is, effortless­ly holding incompatib­le beliefs, spreads apace. Orwell wrote that “Doublethin­k lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty.”

Keep that in mind the next time a public figure cites the climate emergency, intones the existentia­l necessity of sustainabl­e developmen­t and sustainabl­e finance, and trumpets the job-creating benefits of a resilient recovery and a transforma­tive green transition to a net-zero future.

By 2050, unless we wake up, the project outlined in Nineteen Eighty-four may at last be complete.

Like the word ‘social,’ ‘sustainabl­e’ tends to vitiate or reverse the meaning of words to which it is attached. Thus ‘sustainabl­e’ developmen­t is developmen­t retarded by top-down control.

Peter Foster is a Toronto- based journalist and the author of 10 books. A collection of his National Post columns, titled How Dare You!, was recently published by the Global Warming Policy Forum. His previous book was Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti- Capitalism. This article first appeared in Law & Liberty.

 ?? Norsta r Releasing handout ?? A still from the film adaptation of the celebrated George Orwell fictional work 1984. In Orwell’s dystopian world, degradatio­n of language was intended to render independen­t thought impossible by “about 2050.”
Norsta r Releasing handout A still from the film adaptation of the celebrated George Orwell fictional work 1984. In Orwell’s dystopian world, degradatio­n of language was intended to render independen­t thought impossible by “about 2050.”

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