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Orwell and Klemperer Demonstrate the Importance of Language in Resisting Tyranny

Lesson 9: Be kind to our language: Resist using simplistic or propagandistic language and insist on precise and truthful communication.

George Orwell and Victor Klemperer, both writing during the rise of totalitarianism, understood how language can be corrupted to serve tyrannical ends. Orwell exposed how propaganda relies on simple slogans, repeated ad nauseum, to replace critical thought. Klemperer, a philologist in Nazi Germany, documented how the Nazis used language to define groups as "other" and justify inhumane treatment.

They show how resisting tyranny means being conscious of language - rejecting cliches and propaganda, using words with precision and honesty, and defining people as individuals, not stereotypes. Defending truthful language is crucial to defending a humane and pluralistic society.

Section: 1, Chapter: 9

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

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