Why We Need to Call a Pig a Pig (With Or Without Lipstick)
We know Orwell for his novels, but it’s the way he saw the politics of language that makes him relevant.
Though many of Orwell’s essays describe single incidents, his concerns are political, in the largest sense: the way human dignity is corrupted by false phrases. He was less interested in what motivates people to act without integrity than in the words they use to camouflage and perpetuate their dishonesty: for Orwell, bad language and bad politics were one and the same. Yet for all his penury and despair, his faith in the power of clear, strong language can only be read as optimistic.
Orwell’s ideas have been bastardized and simplified over time, so that “Big Brother,” the totalitarian, state-run citizen-control mechanism of “1984,” is now the name of a reality-TV show that bears little resemblance to the book, except for the fact that contestants are watched by cameras