In his dystopian classic 1984, George Orwell introduced the concept of newspeak. Better known today as doublespeak or doubletalk, even those who haven't read the book will probably recognize the phrases "war is peace" or "freedom is slavery". Orwell was inspired by the Soviets' abuse of language in their propaganda, something that leaders and PR firms everywhere engage in, but which was particularly pervasive in USSR and the nations who later adopted the Soviets' socialist model. But there's a deeper reason for doublespeak, revealed by Andrew Lobaczewski in his book Political Ponerology.

Today on MindMatters, we look at the Czech "Dictionary of Totalitarianism", a project by several Czech academics analyzing the vocabulary of propaganda during the socialist period in Czechoslovakia. Using statistical analysis, the researchers were able to identify which words came into prominence and attached with that suggestive, emotional flavor typical of totalitarians and pathocrats, the euphemisms and stereotyped phrases, and the slurs used to demonize political enemies. We also look at a more modern text of revolutionary and potentially totalitarian ideology, The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

Running Time: 01:06:53

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On the Dictionary of Totalitarianism: