Orwell endures in euphemism
Code for very bad things
I’m re-reading Orwell. The last time I was doing it under coercion on pain of failing an exam. This time it’s to understand the world. This time I’m staggered at how insightful he is on so many things. One is the way tyrants and useful idiots use euphemisms - nice words to describe something terrible.
Sometimes they’re unproblematic. Kind, even. The boxer we call a “journeyman” is really a mediocre athlete who specialises in getting bashed by talented fighters on their way up the ranks or used for safe returns for injury. There’s no real harm sparing the fellow the latter description. But euphemisms can be ruinous.
In 1984 there is the likes of “Newspeak”. That’s portrayed as an efficient way to use language. Seems legit. You remove “unnecessary” words. So we can communicate more precisely and briefly.
That is euphemistic for a dastardly system to ensure we can’t say certain things and are forced to say other things. The woke are expert at this.
“Transgender woman”. They demand we treat this as a woman who happened to once be a man. Or in extreme cases, a woman in every single way.
“Critical race theory”, they tell us, is a logical way to understand the world that incorporates the reality of history and racism. It is actually “race Marxism” - James Lindsay, https://www.amazon.com/Race-Marxism-Critical-Theory-Praxis-ebook/dp/B09QFYX2CD. As Lindsay puts it, CRT exists only to create more critical race theorists. And it applies the rule that “if you want to control something, call it racist”. CRT not only allows, but demands telling while children they are inherently racist and must apologise for it.
South African far leftists and politicians are just as rehearsed in this. BEE, Black Economic Empowerment, sounds nice. How could it not be good to empower anyone? Let alone an entire group that has been historically trampled in brutal ways. But this is a euphemism. One only has to think a few thin layers below the surface.
BEE necessarily incorporates excluding individuals from even applying for jobs based purely on their race. That is a crime against humanity. Taking tax money from everyone and directing it to a single race. That is a crime against humanity. Distorting the market. That is shooting yourself in the foot. Lowering the tide for all ships. Which is stupid.
BEE also necessarily means the thing we are very much not allowed to pretend it doesn’t. It guarantees some level and frequency of lowered standards. The Angry Rotarians (HST) balk at this. They straw man it, accusing you of calling all black job applicants inferior to all while ones. That is patently false. In many cases the best candidate will be black. But in these cases, BEE is redundant.
Rubbing the euphemistic beguilement from our eyes, we arrive at one irresistible conclusion. If you exclude one entire source of applicants from a job opening, you guarantee that in some cases you hire not-the-best candidate. As I say that, I realise I’ve abused the euphemism. “Not the best candidate” will sometimes mean an unacceptably poor candidate.
One might acknowledge this, and argue BEE is nonetheless justified. That argument says, Hiring is nebulous anyway, and any candidate with the essential qualifications will grow into the job.
This is to trick yourself into believing silly things. It pretends we aren’t in a competitive world. It ignores the social cost of systematically raising legitimate doubts about every black person’s position - was this doctor 17th best qualified for admission to medical school, and the 4th most favoured for the surgical specialisation? I argue it also fails to properly account for the crime against humanity that is excluding anyone from anything based exclusively on their race. [I’ll assume too much sophistication of my reader to address the “two wrongs making a right” argument here.]
Beware the euphemism.