Screwtape returns with an updated dictionary for woke folks

In 1942, C.S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters, in which Screwtape, a devil, mentored his nephew Wormwood on how to manage his patient, so as to serve their common spiritual master. Screwtape advised: “Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.” “Do remember you are there to fuddle him.”

Wormwood failed in the end and was eaten. 

A recent letter from Screwtape has been intercepted. It is addressed to Dr Slubgob, Principal of the Tempters’ Training College for Young Devils. The text of the new letter follows. 

Dear Dr Slubgob,

The Supreme Council has been long in hammering out our duties in this hour to Our Father Below. Designs grow more intricate. I trust your pupils’ progress. 

In haste I write to ensure your terminology, and your program’s instruction, is current (as of when I write this, April 2024). Herewith a small lexicon showing the true significations for you and the young devils to comprehend and for their patients not to:

Social justice: The subserving of Our Father Below. (By adding “social” to “justice”, we encumber the concern for human society inherent in their word justice.)

Democracy: The interpretation, judgment, and rule of Our Father Below and His votaries, and extending to our institutions, satellites, cut-outs, and other allies.

Populism: Political movements that oppose us, particularly if represented by a popular personality.

Misinformation: Miscreancy (which, as you know, changes monthly, so tell the pupils to stay current). WrongThink. 

Disinformation: The witting expressing of miscreancy.

Malinformation: (Under review: we’re reconsidering how and whether to utilise this term, because the “information” deceit is too exposed. Exclude for now from the active vocabulary.)

Fact-checker: One who guards our big lies with auxiliary lies.

X denier: One who differs from our dicta about X.

Y apologist: One who differs from our dicta about a person Y, whom we detest.

An extremist: One who makes plain that he disfavours us.

A fascist: Anyone who disfavours us. 

A misogynist: One who disfavours us. Use for males.

A racist: One who disfavours us. Use especially for whites.

A white supremacist: One who disfavours us. Use especially for whites.

A right-winger: One who disfavours us. 

Conspiracy theorist: One who is onto us and exposing our secrets.

Diversity: Use while favouring those of diverse ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual orientations who favour us.

Multicultural: Use while celebrating those of diverse ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual orientations who favour us.

Inclusion: The inclusion of those of diverse ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual orientations who favour us, and the excluding of all else.

Equity: Exercising power to favour those who favour us and to disfavour all else.

Hate: Dislike by one of our opponents of something we pretend to respect.

Hate crime: The expressing of such dislike by one of our opponents.

Hater: An opponent who expresses dislike of something we pretend to respect.

Rules-based international order: Geopolitical decision-making conformant to our diktats of late. 

Promoting democracy abroad: Our undertaking regime change.


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To be clear: Something we say to summon intimidation of our opponents.

The Great Reset: Something we say to convey to our opponents: Knuckle under or we will hurt you.

Build Back Better: Dispossessing our opponents of their stuff.

DEI: Something we say to convey to our opponents: Knuckle under or we will hurt you.

ESG: Something we say to convey to our opponents: Knuckle under or we will hurt you.

Sustainability: To our liking, as opposed to our disliking.

The truth: Our dicta.

Decency: Conforming to our dicta and diktats.

The Constitution: Our agenda.

God Bless America: Oil we sometimes pour on those liable to draw away from the presence of Our Father Below.

Keep an eye out for my next, for terms and significations shall change, as change is one of our best devices. Colleagues here express concern that the significations may be dwindling to such an extent that our verbalisms lose their effect. 

The moment is critical, so temporise elsewise — remember our faithfuls, vanity, careerism, bodily pleasure, and confusion — to carry your patient through to what must be our decisive triumph. 

Yours truly,


Is this dissection of woke language on point? Leave a comment if you have more for the list.

This article has been republished with permission from the Brownstone Institute.

Daniel Klein is professor of economics and JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he leads a program in Adam Smith. He is also associate fellow at the Ratio Institute (Stockholm), research fellow at the Independent Institute, and chief editor of Econ Journal Watch.

Image credit: Pexels


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  • David Page
    commented 2024-04-23 08:54:17 +1000
    Heinrich Heine, one of my mentors, once said that “literature is a graveyard in which we wander, searching out and embracing the headstones of those ideas that are closest to our own beliefs”. I would include the Bible in that. To put it more succinctly, the Bible is a Rorschach test. What jumps off the page at you tells you everything about yourself, and nothing about the Bible.
  • mrscracker
    In 1911 Ambrose Bierce had The Devil’s Dictionary published:

    “Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

    (n.) A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

    (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law

    (a.) Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.41"
  • Daniel Klein