Monday, May 14, 2007

Hayek gets it right in 1944

I just found a passage from Friedrich Hayek that I think is particularly insightful. He accurately described, in 1944's The Road To Serfdom, a tactic that has since then become one of the Left's most commonly used tools of deception:
    “The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognised before. (…) The most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed. (…) Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.”

The best example of this is how the word "liberal" was co-opted by the left and twisted into a grotesque caricature of its genuine and classical meaning. They took a word that once described the quest for freedom and equality, and turned it into a euphemism for the destruction of western civilization. In the 19th century, being a Liberal was a good thing, but by the late 20th century it had become a very bad thing to be indeed.

One aspect of this tactic which Hayek did not go into was the discarding of terms as soon as the emotional associations that they once held have been lost. The term liberal, having lost all of its glimmer, has fallen out of favor with leftists who now often describe themselves as "progressives." Same ideas, same agenda, new feel-good word to pass out to the public. The funny thing is, this is not the first time that they've used this term. It was in vogue many decades ago when they stopped calling themselves communists, but hadn't quite gotten around to calling themselves "liberals" yet.

I was at a party last night where a very bright and lovely young lady had the temerity to tell me that the term "minority" described anyone who wasn't white, male, and at least nominally Christian. At the time this really disturbed me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why. Now I know. She had fallen victim to this precise form of deception. Sadly enough, she seemed quite eager to defend it. It saddens me that her talents and energies are ensnared by a belief system base on harmful lies. Blessed with a clearer understanding of things, I have no doubt that she could help with the work of bettering this world.

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