Revolutionary Language

Mar 18, 2023 by

by Campbell Campbell-Jack, A Grain of Sand:

If you want to change a society, the most efficient way is not with guns and tanks but with a dictionary.

Progressives know the power of language and they prioritise it in their efforts to restructure society. Change the language and you change the way people think, change the way people think and you change the way people act, change the way people act and you have changed society; all without firing a shot. It takes longer than a violent revolution but it is much more effective and longer lasting.

The establishment pursues inclusive language. The British government has several style guides about how to speak on such subjects as disability or ethnicity. Every university has its own language guide.  Edinburgh University sees inclusive language as an important aspect in pursuit of its ‘vision of making the world a better place’. The latest advance of the language manipulators is the 92-page Inclusive Language Guide Oxfam have issued for their staff.

We can laugh at the contortions Oxfam force themselves into in order to avoid the possibility of offending any group they see as vulnerable. Former Tory minister Robert Buckland said: ‘Most people will find this particular use of valuable time and resources by Oxfam totally bizarre.’ Some proposed changes are beyond parody. The guide does not want employees to refer to ‘headquarters’ because it ‘implies a power dynamic that prioritises one office over another’ and ‘reinforces hierarchical power issues and a top-down approach’.

However, laughing then dismissing the guide as another example of out-of-touch wokery underestimates the purpose and effect of such language. This is not bizarre, this is revolutionary and we should take it seriously. Although the Oxfam International Secretariat has fewer than 300 staff,  Oxfam affiliates have around 10,000 employees and nearly 50,000 interns and volunteers in 67 countries, and 1,200 shops worldwide. Oxfam are seeking to change how people see the world.

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