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15.9.16

A Modest Proposal, Part 1

Back in the day, one of my favorite columnists was William Safire.  His specialty was criticizing the use of language in the public sphere according to the classic skills of the old Trivium of the liberal arts.

To refresh our memories, the Trivium is defined by Wikipedia as:
"...a systematic method of critical thinking used to derive factual certainty from information perceived with the traditional five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell."

The Trivium was made up of three specific skills: grammar, logic and rhetoric.  Mastery of these skills allowed the student to understand ordered information, analyze its content and express an opinion in a coherent manner.  Thus, the foundation of clear and rational thought, and the ability to express it, required the precise use of language.

For centuries, Latin was the language of choice for educated people, if for no other reason than because it is a very precise one.  English has more or less supplanted Latin in the past two hundred years owing to its ability to absorb vocabulary and grammar from other languages, which unfortunately for those who teach the language, makes it rather complex and occasionally non-sensical.

The reason this has come up again is that, as George Orwell pointed out in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the control of language imparts control of the mind.  If one can effectively reduce the vocabulary and simplify the grammar of a language, one can control the thoughts - and the actions - of the masses.

Orwell postulated that IngSoc would use Newspeak to control thought over time by eliminating words and concepts that were offensive to the State.  Eventually, he said, the masses would be unable to form a rational thought on certain topics because there simply were no words to do so.  And even if an individual could host an offensive thought, he would be unable to clearly express it due to a lack of structure (grammar) and rhetorical ability.

Ultimately, the masses could not conceive of anything other than a string of slogans approved by the Central Party.  There would be no history, no books other than the Newspeak dictionary, and no reference in the public sphere to anything other than what the State wished the masses to have.

Every year we see this in action, as the general vocabulary and grammar of the mass media devolves to lower and lower levels.  Even now, if one learned everything from the media, one would be unable to express anything above an eighth grade level (being generous here).

When I was a child, my father bought a set of McGuffey Readers, that were the grade school standard of US education in the late 1800s and early 1900s.   Contemporary collage-level students would struggle with much of the sixth grade material in these books.

If you have experienced the language abilities of the average teenager on Facebook or other social media, then you know that IngSoc has triumphed.  The median language abilities of most young Americans and Europeans has devolved to near-incoherence.  Spelling and grammar are virtually non-existent and the relative importance of what these people find noteworthy is inane.  Basic things, such as knowing that data and bacteria are plurals, and being able to match cases and tenses accordingly are nearly gone.  In my own experience with students, even being able to identify subjects, verbs and objects is a skill all but lost.

Most of the problem I lay at the feet of Political Correctness.  This one effort has bombarded modern culture with the message that certain thoughts and vocabulary are off limits.  The arbiters of PC have spent decades modifying language and forbidding public discourse on certain topics, to the point that modern education has been reduced to sloganeering and jingoism in the service of the State's agenda.  Young people can no longer dissociate the message from the messenger, nor critically analyze an argument to glean the facts from opinion and speculation.  In short, they can't think.

In fact, it has finally come to the point where certain topics are so taboo that Ivy League college students are reduced to emotional blobs by the mere encounter with certain words or phrases.  Imagine the depth of the programming required to reduce a human being to sobs over a word.  Millennia of cultural development to produce a generation incapable of reason and slave to emotion.

The situation is well beyond critical.  The amount of remediation required to reverse this kind of indoctrination is staggering.  We must face the fact that our culture may be lost forever, because it is a chain that once broken, cannot be repaired.

The best that we remaining rational people can do at this point is to follow the example of the secret societies and go underground until the eventual complete destruction of the society that has built such a tragedy.  As in medieval Europe, we must protect knowledge and our progeny from this self-destructive society and work towards the New Renaissance in a couple of centuries.

Actions such as homeschooling, tossing out the TeeVee and spending hours teaching our children and grandchildren in the time-tested classical liberal arts.  There is little other choice.  The false culture is so all-pervasive and the techniques used so powerful that any contact with it will cause damage.

Even as I write, I am watching adult friends become consumed with Pokemon Go, to the point that even self-preservation is not enough to overcome the addiction.  I see young adults I have known since childhood become angry and defensive when certain ideas are brought up for debate, unwilling and unable to ideas on their own merit, and choosing instead to simply deny that the concepts exist.

For this reason, I am proposing a complete different take on prepping and survival, focusing not on food and shelter, but on knowledge and information.  Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

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