Monday, February 14, 2005

Linguistic Poseurs

Lee Harris deconstructs the Left's deliberate misuse of the word "hegemony." By conflating the words "hegemony" and "empire" progressive intellectuals of the Noam Chomsky variety seek to improperly reclassify American defense alliances as mechanisms of empire and draw moral equivalence between the US and true empires like Rome or the USSR, whilst making themselves appear intellectually superior in the process.
George Orwell in his novel 1984 envisioned a world in which the most basic concepts, such as freedom and slavery, had been conflated by an intellectual elite intent on making ordinary people unaware that there was any real difference between them. Chomsky's high priest, Steven Pinker, in The Language Instinct sneered at Orwell's fear as groundless. George Grote might beg to differ with Mr. Pinker. After all, the difference between empire and hegemony is precisely analogous to the difference between freedom and slavery. The nations of the Soviet bloc during the Cold War were virtually enslaved by the Warsaw Pact, and the brutal invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia displayed this fact before the eyes of the whole world. The nations of NATO, on the other hand, were kept free by virtue of American hegemony -- in Grote's and not Chomsky's sense of the word. To permit linguistic sleight of hand to blur this vital difference would be bad enough if it came from a vulgar demagogue; but when it comes from one of America's most respected intellectuals, it is, frankly, disgraceful.
The entire article is well worth reading.


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