In 1984, his novel about left-wing collectivist tyranny under Big Brother, George Orwell coined the term Newspeak to designate the government’s use of words and phrases to mean whatever the government wanted words to mean. The aim was to keep Big Brother’s subjects confused and afraid to do or say anything on their own. As in Thomas Hobbes’s “Leviathan,” the sole source of power was to be the sovereign’s sword, and the principle of political order was continual fear of sudden and violent death.
Robert Curry explains how the Democrat/Socialist Party uses Newspeak.
by Robert Curry
In the United States “liberal” means today a set of ideas and political postulates that in every regard are the opposite of all that liberalism meant to the preceding generations. The American self-styled liberal aims at government omnipotence, is a resolute foe of free enterprise, and advocates all-round planning by the authorities…Every measure aiming at confiscating some of the assets of those who own more than the average or at restricting the rights of the owners of property is considered as liberal and progressive.
Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism
The term “liberal” comes from the Latin “liber” meaning “free.” Liberalism originally referred to the philosophy of liberty, that is, the philosophy of the American Founders and their tradition, the great tradition which inspired the Founders and which they did so much to define and advance.
In fact, if Freidrich Hayek is correct, the introduction of the term in its original sense has a very close historical link to the Founders. Hayek traces the introduction of the term “liberal” to its use by Adam Smith. Hayek points to such characteristic passages as this one in The Wealth of Nations of 1776 where Smith wrote of “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice.”
The term “liberal” today means the precise opposite of what it once meant. Using the original, classical meaning, Mises wrote:
“As the liberal sees it, the task of the state consists solely and exclusively in guaranteeing the protection of life, health, liberty, and private property against violent attacks…Anti-liberal policies have so far expanded the functions of the state as to leave hardly any field of human activity free of government interference.”
The policies Mises refers to here as “anti-liberal” were actually labeled as liberal by their proponents.
So, we have a familiar word with two totally opposite meanings, one meaning having been very nearly completely buried by the other. How did this confusing state of affairs come about?
It was the result of a political master stroke by that shrewdest of politicians—FDR.
If you measure presidential success simply by the number of times a man is elected to the presidency, then FDR is the most successful American President. Once elected, FDR was able to hold office until his death. His claim on the office attests to his astonishing ability to dominate the game of politics.
But to understand the brilliance of his capture for his political purposes the term “liberal,” we need to understand the challenge FDR faced and the opportunity that he seized.
“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lord Acton, 1834-1902
“I cannot imagine power as a thing negative and not positive.”
Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924
As the noted scholar J.