A quick guide to slavespeak: 11 terms ‘progressives’ have turned on their head
As we wave goodbye to 2023 and ring in the new year, many of us will be doing a “de-tox” to rid our bodies of those trifles, Christmas cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sundry culinary delights that filled our bellies and brought us good cheer over the Christmas holidays. I propose that we accompany this physical de-tox with a verbal de-tox: we need to purge our bloated vocabulary of several concepts that are poisoning our understanding of ourselves and the world.
These concepts have been elaborated by people who would describe themselves as “self-aware,” “progressive” and “liberated,” but they are actually terms more fit for a society of slaves than a society of free persons. Indeed, these concepts, at least as they are typically employed by “progressives,” could be described, without exaggeration, as a species of slavespeak. By this, I simply mean that they are used disingenuously, to rationalise political oppression and slavery.
Let’s name them and shame them, one by one:
- Misinformation/disinformation: On its face, this means false or misleading information that could be harmful to citizens. But in slavespeak, while it parades under this apparently innocent meaning, it actually means information that some individuals find disagreeable or inconvenient, and therefore want censored or banished from the public square.
- Far right: On its face, this means political positions that border on the insane, the pathological and the irrational, and have violent and oppressive tendencies, with affinities to Nazism, white supremacism, and other dodgy political movements. In slavespeak, “far right” retains these connotations, but the term is applied arbitrarily to any position that disrupts the official narrative of the political Establishment.
- Xenophobia: Xenophobia usually means blanket dislike or prejudice against foreigners. But in slavespeak, xenophobia is applied to anyone who affirms the value of national ties or national identity, defends the idea that immigrants should adapt to their host culture, or dissents from open border policies.
- Hate speech: On its face, this means speech that targets particular groups in society with vitriolic language and insults of various sorts, seeking to portray such groups as intrinsically detestable. In slavespeak, hate speech just means any strongly worded discourse that dares to speak critically of any protected cohort of society or its behaviour or opinions. So heated political discourse is treated as insidious hate speech, especially discourse that threatens the reigning ideology.
- Tolerance: On its face, this means a disposition to peacefully put up with people, behaviour, or opinions one finds abhorrent or offensive. In slavespeak, tolerance means the uncritical celebration of every conceivable lifestyle under the sun, the anaesthetisation of one’s critical faculties. So verbally expressing disapproval or criticism toward a way of life, which used to be permitted by freedom of expression, is now condemned as intolerance.
- Safe online experience: On its face, this means an internet that is protected from pornography, extreme violence and child abuse. In slavespeak, it means an internet that is purged of political commentary that might disrupt officially sanctioned narratives.
- Health equity: On its face, this means a health system that expands people’s access to opportunities to improve their health. In slavespeak, it parades publicly under this innocent interpretation, but really means extending a web of bio-surveillance and coercive vaccination across an ever-widening web of nations.
- Digital inclusion: On its face, this means allowing an ever greater number of citizens access to empowering digital technologies. In slavespeak, it carries this meaning for the un-discerning public, but in reality, it means the consolidation of an international web of digital censorship and financial control, copper-fastened by a government-controlled “digital identity wallet.”
- Environmental sustainability: On its face, this means achieving a stable, positive relationship between nature and human civilisation. In slavespeak, it parades under this innocent banner, but really means demonising economic production and industrialisation, and putting the purity of “nature” and the minimisation of carbon output ahead of any possible gains that could come from modern agriculture, industry, or travel by air or by car.
- Transphobia: On its face, this means hatred of individuals who suffer from some form of confusion about their gender or sexual identity. But in slavespeak, transphobia attributes hateful motives to anyone who believes in the social relevance of biology or rejects the idea that gender dysphoria or confusion about sexual identity should be uncritically reaffirmed and reinforced legally and socially.
Conspiracy theorist: The natural interpretation of this term is someone who builds far-fetched connections between events in an attempt to prove implausible conspiracies to advance nefarious secret agendas. But in slavespeak, “conspiracy theorist” refers to anyone who actually makes a plausible, evidence-based case that powerful actors are cooperating to advance harmful projects at the public’s expense. So people who suggest Big Pharma and government cooperated to impose a coercive vaccination programme on the public - an undeniable fact - would be dismissed as “conspiracy theorists.”
David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer of political philosophy at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.
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