The Defence Of The Indefensible

"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. ... Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness, " George Orwell wrote fifty-five years ago in his essay "Politics and the English Language." In this month's Ecologist, Paul Kingsnorth points out the relevance of Orwell's words today. "An entire political culture has been built on one delightfully simple premise: to get away with doing something downright evil, it's not necessary to change your behaviour, it's just necessary to change the language you use to describe it," Kingsnorth writes. He gives the example of the Bush administration phrase "pre-emptive defence." According to Kingsnorth, this means "attacking anyone we want to and justifying it by saying that they might attack us one day."