Does the Use of Newspeak in a Capitalistic Society Make it More Socialist?

Eleana Torres – Period 1

In Liberty and Property, Ludwig von Mises makes many claims about the role of liberty in capitalism and the distortion of it in socialism. He says that “the socialists would never have duped the voters if they had openly told them that their ultimate end [was] to cast them into bondage.” The way they did this, he argues, is through Newspeak or “converting the meaning of terms into their opposite.”[1] When people run for office, they are essentially doing the same thing as those socialists, trying to manipulate their ultimate ends to get our support. One instance of this is in the way they present their beliefs. For example, if they are pro-life and you don’t vote for them, then shame on you for being against life, and if they are pro-choice and you don’t vote for them, then shame on you for being against choice. These types of manipulations and others like them have been a constant in the political sphere, but they are different than what the socialists did. It is more about placing themselves in the best light, rather than newspeak, because they are not changing the meaning of anything in order to “suppress free thought, individualism, and happiness.”[2] A capstone of socialism that is mentioned in Liberty and Property is the use of newspeak to manipulate their voters, and even though there are traces of that in capitalism it is not an indicator that it is turning towards socialism.

Earlier this year, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump’s inauguration crowd was larger than President Obama’s even though it was obvious that that was untrue. When confronted about this lie, Kellyanne Conway insisted that he was not lying, he was merely presenting “alternative facts.”[3] To fully appreciate the similarity between this instance and that of the socialists’ we must first look at the use of newspeak in the one party principle. In Liberty and Property, Ludwig breaks down the meaning of the one party principle. He states that the word party comes from the noun part, but since there is only one party it is not a part if there are no other parts, it is just a whole.[4] When comparing this to alternative facts, it is eerily similar. A fact is “something known to exist or to have happened.”[5]An alternative fact, is an alternate fact, which also means it is not a fact, therefore it is not the truth, and in the case of the crowd size it’s a lie. So is the capitalism Ludwig defended so vehemently turning to socialist ways? No. Unlike those who fell under socialism, we still have liberty. This freedom to dissent is something that has been seen in the backlash Conway’s comment spurred. From people tweeting things like “Me: Hi, SAT Board, I need you to change my test scores. I didn’t get the questions wrong. I provided #alternativefacts @MeetThePress” to serious news agencies like CNN criticizing it through interviews and articles, and even in 1989’s sales soaring.[6] Where the socialists “were forced to pay lipservice to” what their leaders demanded, we have liberty and can choose whether or not we believe what we are told and we can choose what we do about it.[7]

 

[1] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty & property. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009.

[2] Wedge, Marilyn. “The Historical Origin of “Alternative Facts”.” Psychology Today. January 23, 2017. Accessed May 01, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201701/the-historical-origin-alternative-facts.

[3] Alex, and Ra Jaffe. “Kellyanne Conway: WH Spokesman Gave ‘Alternative Facts’ on Inauguration Crowd.” NBCNews.com. January 22, 2017. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/wh-spokesman-gave-alternative-facts-inauguration-crowd-n710466?cid=sm_fb_msnbc.

[4] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty & Property.

[5] “Fact.” Dictionary.com. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/fact?s=t.

[6] Moller, Kenza. “Funniest “Alternative Facts” Tweets Prove Just How Ridiculous The Argument Really Is.” Romper. January 22, 2017. Accessed May 01, 2017. https://www.romper.com/p/funniest-alternative-facts-tweets-prove-just-how-ridiculous-the-argument-really-is-32244.; “‘1984’ book sales soar after ‘alternative facts’ claims.” Chicago Sun-Times. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/1984-book-sales-soar-after-alternative-facts-claims/.

[7] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty & Property.

Photo: “Contemporary Newspeak.” Bluejayblog. March 12, 2013. Accessed May 01, 2017. https://bluejayblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/contemporary-newspeak/.

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