Flat White

Cancel culture and the left’s long march

16 March 2021

4:00 AM

16 March 2021

4:00 AM

Last week Manchester University in Britain published a ‘Guide to Inclusive Language’ that proves, once again, how successful the cultural-left has been in its long march through the institutions and radically reshaping language. Under the heading of ‘Equality, diversity and inclusion’ academics and students are told they cannot use pronouns like he or she, use the description mentally ill and that race and ethnicity are social constructs. 

It should also be noted that such guides are common in Australian universities including Flinders, Monash and the University of New South Wales. Academics are told not to describe Aborigines as primitive or native and to refer to the arrival of the First Fleet as an invasion. 

One of the first acts of the Democratic controlled House of Representatives after Joe Biden was elected President was to legislate a politically correct set of House Rules relating to gender and sexuality. In order to be inclusive and to alleviate disadvantage descriptions such as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, uncle and aunt are forbidden as are gender specific pronouns. 

Other examples of cancel culture radically reshaping language to enforce its neo-Marxist inspired ideology include replacing breastfeeding with chest feeding so as not to offend transpeople, a baby being assigned sex at birth and words like elderly and pensioners being described as ageist.   

While the above examples might appear of little consequence, the reality is the way language is being manipulated is cause for concern. Underpinning the cultural left’s incessant drive to change the words and expressions we use is its intention to radically reshape Western societies like Australia according to its utopian image. 

Detailed in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 one of the most effective ways to enforce totalitarian control and to subjugate citizens is via language. As Orwell arguesBut if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought”. Examples include the slogan War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. 

The whole concept of Newspeak associated with Big Brother is based on the premise that if citizens do not have the language to conceptualise and express hostility towards Ingsoc (the ruling Party) or the desire for freedom then they will remain victims of mindless groupthink and forever be oppressed. 

Orwell also details how the central character Winston by merely entertaining the idea of writing “Down with Big Brother” in his diary is guilty of “Thoughtcrime” and liable for imprisonment, torture and, finally, erasure.  Orwell writes “ The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committedwould still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paperthe essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. 

Such is the power of controlling language to enforce dominance that dictators including Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot have adopted strategies ranging from burning books, shackling the media, denying academic freedom and freedom of expression and rewriting history to guarantee their narrative reigns supreme. 

While not as extreme, it’s obvious political correctness and its offspring cancel culture also seek to enforce mindless group think and dominance by taking control of language and radically altering what words mean. In order to enforce radical gender theory, the description man or woman no longer has any inherent biological meaning as it is merely a social construct enforced by a heteronormative, oppressive society. 

As detailed in my just-released Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March, such is pervasive and dominant nature of politically correct language use that to misspeak or be guilty of transgressing leads to censure and in some cases being dismissed. Some years ago an Australian army officer was threatened with disciplinary action for continuing to address another office the transwomen Catherine McGregor as Sir. 

Late last year Greg Clarke, the chairman of the English Football Association, was forced to resign after using the word coloured when referring to non-white soccer players.  Much like Stalin’s show trials Clarke was also forced to publicly recant saying “My unacceptable words in front of parliament were a disservice to our game and to those who watch, play, referee and administer it. This has crystallised my resolve to move on”. 

Even those sympathetic towards the Left are not immune as, illustrated by the columnist Bari Weiss’ resignation from the New York Times because she felt it was no longer possible to report the news in a balanced and objective way.  As a result of Wrongthink Weiss describes being abused and vilified leading her to conclude intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. 

It’s significant is that one of the 150 signatories to an open letter published last year bemoaning the lack of free expression because of politically correct language control was Noam Chomsky  — somebody not commonly associated with centre-right, conservative politics. 

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University. Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March is available directly from his website

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