The U.K. Declares Its Independence — From Language Designed to Make Lies Sound Truthful

By Joshua Charles Published on June 29, 2016

“Brexit” — the British exit from the European Union passed in last Wednesday’s referendum — was ultimately concerned with the issue of democratic sovereignty under the rule of legislative (as opposed to administrative fiat) law — a principle which the accumulated wisdom and experience of the centuries had led to the greatest system of ordered liberty ever conceived by human wisdom on that storied Isle of Great Britain. It’s a principle which also represents the choicest fruits of the American patrimony.

But as important as these aspects of Brexit are, there is a phenomenon taking place on both sides of the Atlantic that Brexit brought to the fore, and that is the Left’s co-option, abuse, and decadent use of language.

The Monotonous Remain Camp

Having watched many of the Brexit debates with great alacrity the last few months, I was struck by how monotonous the “Remain” camp was in its messaging. Nearly every chance, they’d give the same line about everything being “Better Together.” Their favorite words seemed to be slogans like “together,” “community,” and “open,” as if the noble British people had no conception of these words until the advent of the EU, and that only by remaining within the EU would they be faithful to their meaning.

But have we not heard the same nonsense from Leftists in America? President Obama and his fellow demagogues can talk of nothing else but “We are all in this together,” as if those who disagree with their political goals care about nothing but dividing people, an irony only enhanced by a moment’s reflection on the Left’s Pavlovian use of identify politics to achieve its goal of bringing everyone “together.”

“People who write [or speak, as it were] in this manner,” Orwell observed in his famous essay, Politics and the English Language, “usually have a general emotional meaning — they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another—but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying.” For what purpose? “[T]he defense of the indefensible,” and thus a new political language which consists “largely of euphemism, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness,” all of which “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

The Left believes that mankind is most elevated and enlightened when all that is most human in us is subsumed into the merely political. Humanity is most esteemed when we are all Julias (recall the Democratic Party’s infamous political video in the 2012 election), embraced in the loving arms of the state, “together,” from cradle to grave.

Government is, after all, “the one thing we all belong to,” as the Young Democrats blithely declared that same election year. The cause of big government, of a government that knows better than you, and is thus obligated to govern more and more of your life, is constantly touted with the language of togetherness, of community, and of solidarity, as if all this is impossible without the loving embrace of the state — without the involvement of politics engaged in by free people.

Because the Left amalgamates all of the greatest aspirations of the human soul with a particular political vision, it interprets political disagreement as fundamentally in-human, and thus its oscillation between the twin extremes of meaningless, feel-good phrases like “Better Together,” “Forward,” and “Hope and Change,” and a merciless campaign of character assassination against its enemies.

The British Rejection

The British people rejected this. And that is what I found most heartening about last night’s results. They rejected a nameless, faceless, unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy that presumed to create more and more laws for a people whose ability to hold them accountable they systematically designed to be less and less.

This was what the “Remain” campaign called being “Together,” a political principle so vacuous that its only logical conclusion would be something akin to world government—for after all, we’re all better “together,” right? Why not have the entire earth be controlled by supranational institutions, for everyone is better “together,” right? Continental hacks presumed to lecture the nation whose blood was not only spilt in vats to redeem its very existence (twice!), but whose values and institutions bequeathed to the world the most open and tolerant period of history ever beheld by human eyes.

And these people thought they’d win with hollow exhortations on the glories of being “together”?

They thought that such mindless sloganeering could beguile the nation who exhibited before the world such sublime statesmen as Burke, Pitt, Gladstone, and Churchill, statesmen of profound wisdom, insight, substance and prudence; statesmen who dared to bet on the sophistication and virtues of their countrymen, rather than their passions and ignorance? Statesmen who, when making momentous decisions, did so based on far more than mindless notions of being “together”?

They thought they could fool the nation which first produced the balanced constitution, the wonder of the political world, about which her statesmen and legislators could delivers speeches in hours, and books in volumes, with mindless sloganeering about being “together”? The continent which has so often been belabored with tyranny and despotism thought they could fool the birthplace of modern democracy with the silly notion that it could only make it in this world “together” with them?

Well, I for one am supremely happy that my British cousins didn’t fall for it. To do so would have ratified yet another cowardly prostration of the British mind before the linguistic tyranny of the Left. To do so would have been beneath them, their ancestors, and their institutions, which have immeasurably blessed the world, including this nation of rambunctious cousins.

And it is to that nation of world-blessers that I express a very happy Independence Day.

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