Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview

Labor and Contentially Related Lexical Items in Communist Newspeak: Cases of Soviet Russia and Socialist Germany

Galik L Artemchukand George G. Pocheptsov

Alexej Ugrinsky: I would like to preface my reading of this paper very, very briefly. I'm not a general semanticist, but I have, in those two years that it took us to put this show, together, learned a thing or two. One thing, which was probably quoted more than anything else during this conference, is this business "The map is not the territory." While you wonderful people from general semantics try to get people to understand that, actually, the map is not the territory, and always to look for the misleading things in the map, versus the territory, the people who lived in totalitarian systems--it could be like Hitler's Germany, or Stalin's Russia, or something--they know that the map is not the territory. They know it! They even have sayings like, Nyet pravdy Pravde, which means, "There is no truth in Pravda." Truth is--by the way, the Russian newspaper Pravda means "truth," so "There is no truth in truth"--there is no truth in Pravda. Where I come from, we know. In Germany, we have a saying, Papier ist geduldie ("Paper is patient"). You can put anything on paper, okay? So we know. So this is a brief preface.

Now, here we go.

Propaganda, especially in totalitarian societies, is based on principles contrary to the tenets of general semantics. Whereas general semantics aims to establish the real essence of entities studied, primarily, in themselves, with critical analysis of their names; intends to lull man's critical approach in cognition, to make people take things not for what they are but for what they are called, to subordinate reality to language.

Economy, especially labor productivity, has always been a sore point in totalitarian systems. The leadership in Soviet Russia and in other countries of the Communist bloc was well aware of the significance of labor productivity for the upkeep of their economics, for the outcome of the economic competition be tween a totalitarian, centralized economy and a free, market economy. As

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