Pomobabble: postmodern newspeak and constitutional 'meaning' for the uninitiated.

Author:Arrow, Dennis W.

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania .... In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist .... [But] all Party members tend[ed] to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to devotees Of Ingsoc, but to make all other thoughts impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted ... and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought ... should be literally unthinkable .... This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever .... No word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to DIMINISH the range of thought ....

.... [M]any Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly created words, would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day.


The words "cunning, shrewd, devious" don't have a bad connotation to me. Look at the history of people in positions of leadership. They've said of every one of my time that he's devious -- from Roosevelt ... to ... Mao.

Remember John Foster Dulles? ... He didn't use the word pragmatic, but he said that every day is a different situation and you have to say "I'd rather be right than be consistent." I've always USED that.

Anything good in this life is worth cheating for.


[A] man investigating principles cannot ARGUE with one who denies their existence.


I (the "subject")(4) have (has) at various ("different")(5) times ("moments") con(side)red (presup(posed)) writing (sharing "discourse"(6) pertaining to) an article ("text") "defining" (destroying)(7) pomo ("postmodernist" and "legal postmodernist") jargon ("signs")(8) for the "uninitiated" (unhip dullai(9)rds). I was afraid it wouldn't be very "good"(10) -- and that it might even be "`good'"(11) -- but took comfort from Richard Delgado's reassuring observation that Randall Kennedy's insistence on merit in legal scholarship was "potentially hostile to the idea of voice."(12)


Had I "cannily"(13) composed such an article, it might have played(14) something like an extended version of this:

absence of fault, empirically verifiable real fact: except for "I"s', of course; see generally "determinism," "essence," "victimology," "power paradigm."

abyme, n.-v.: the situs of all beauty not contained in "plural democracy" (this may or may not be a null set); the situs of "utopia"; (obsol.): abyss (that one's in English, oh slow-witted one), abysse (doesn't quite convey the bottomlessness of the pit, or the allusion to hell and/or "enlightenment"), and abime (too ... well ... common).

academic, n.-adj.: political; see generally "adjectives" "power"; "theory" "concealment."

adaptive preferences, comp. pl. n.: "We" don't really believe all that "adaptive preferences" stuff, you know: it's either "crimestop" or (gasp!) false consciousness.

adjectives, pl. n.: untethered "rhetorical" "power"; "theorists,"' "academics,"' "intellectuals"' "repetitive and cumulative incantation" "adjectives": "truth," "legal authority"; see generally "complex."

anarchy, feint: see "nihilism."

antidisestablishmentarianists, pl. n.: opponents of the disestablishment of a church or religious body; "we"; but see "subversion."

antifoundationalist pragmatism, feint: see "concealment" "mysticism," "natural law"; see also "doublethink."

appreciation, n.: for the occasional "uncanny" clarity (not "clarity") of "we"s; keep writing!

Article III, "interpretive" construct: two articles down the road.

authentic, adj.: "our" "essence" (in collective-identity Weltanschauungen).

authentic leadership, comp. n.: "us"; see generally "Heidegger," "crimestop"; all variants obsolete.

authority, n.: "us."

autonomy, social construct: see "fascism"; see also "law," "children"; see generally "self-contradiction"; "complex" "rich" "textured" "nuanced" "postmodernist insights."

avoidance behavior, subliminal postmodern process: see "enthusiasm" "narcissism," "self-indulgence."

balancing test, unclassifiable: Wheeeeee! See generally "democracy" "natural law," "subjects."

Barney, prop. n.: contemplate time (not "time").

Big Brother, paranoid construct: "mean-spirited" "framing"; see generally "definition"; (obsol.): the embodiment of the Party.

Big Mother, paranoid construct: "mean-spirited" "framing" of "dominance" "feminists"' variant of "Big Brother"; see generally "naming `our' own reality"; "responsibility," "children."

binary opposites, social construct: "dualities."

candor, n.: compare "clarity" with "concealment."

canniness, n.: characteristic of scholars "lulled by the promise of a rational ordering";(15) see also "I," "uninitiated," reason (not "reason").

canon, n.: can't hurt (can it?) if it's aimed in the right direction.

cash, n.: see "foundation," "income redistribution"; see generally "adaptive preferences."

cavalier, adj.: see "dismissive"; all variants obsolete.

center, social construct: to be "decentered."

certain, adj.: you'll see.

chains, postmodern construct: see "certain."

children, pl. n.: all American citizens of any age, and soon all rational beings in the universe; "our" wards, to be oligarchically, paternally, and maternally "dominated" by "us" under the banner of "democracy," in the spirit of "love," pursuant to "hegemonically" imposed "natural law," irrespective (?) of consequences. [OF COURSE, I'M ONLY TALKING ABOUT O'BREIN.]

chimpanzees, social construct: "We" can't hear you, either: the sounds appear to be muffled both beneath the earth's surface and in space; see generally "language."

circles, n.: Don'cha know those spinning teacups are "our" favorite ride at Disneyland? (or are "we" being "canny" here?); see generally "pragmatism."

civility, n.: something always to be insisted upon, except, of course, when "we"'re not in "power"; compare "critical bite" with "mean-spirited"; frequently "deployed" when faux-" discourse" is about to cause the merits of "our" "critiques" to crater; see generally "crimestop."

clarity, social construct: a "traditional" conceptual tool of arch conservatism;(16) an obstacle to "interpretation," "decentering," "discourse," "rhetoric," "critique," and "doublethink"; see generally "concealment"; all variants obsolete.

collegiality, n.: "Michel Foucault" "truth," "children"; see generally "Heidegger," "submission."

comets, pl. n.: Whiston's? or Applewhite's? or ...

communitarian, adj.: see generally "social justice," neo-"Marxism." community, n.: whatever "we" tell you yours is; all variants obsolete.

competition, social construct: an impediment to "equality" and "entropy," and therefore to "self(?)-esteem"; see generally "dominance," "hegemony," "deconstruction"; to be abolished by "natural law"; all usages to become obsolete.

complex, adj.: the way everything looks to those lacking both knowledge and reason; see also "rich," "textured," "nuanced"; but in "context," it's really quite simple; except for "complicated," all variants obsolete.

complicated, adj.: the "education" departments' (Department's?) authorized variant of "complex."

concealment, n.: "power."

condescension, n.: shhhhh! All usages obsolete.

consent, n.: "Ours," right? All variants obsolete.

consequences, social construct: as filtered through what axiological preferences, how private (not "private"), and how firmly held? Compare history (not "history"), science (not "science"), religion (not "religion"); "thinking more than one consequence ahead," "unintended (?) consequences," "clarity," and "candor" with "pragmatism" (not pragmatism), "Pomobabble," "concealment," and "natural law."

consistency, n.: standard of argumentation on the basis of which "we" may criticize "I"s, but on the basis of which "I"s may not criticize "us"; see also "rich," "textured," "doublethink" "pragmatism"; all variants obsolete.(17)

constitutional law, comp. n.: the continuation of politics by other means; all variants obsolete.(18)

context, n.-v.: what "we" want to talk about, whether real or imaginary (epistemologically and/or ontologically, is there a difference?), to the exclusion of everything else; definitely not history (unless, of course, it's "history"); see also "diversity," "repetitive and cumulative incantation" "interesting"; see generally "frame" "democratic history"; all variants obsolete.

contextual, adj.: monomaniacal; see also "diversity" "Johnny One-Note," "linear thinking"; see generally "adjectives" "double-think" "power."

cosmic debris, comp. n.: just more "text"; see also "context"; (obsol.): a '60s term of derision for the over-the-top untethered and their "theories"; all other variants also obsolete.

crimestop, n.-v.: an evolving, not-quite-perfected technique of "postmodernist" "practice" pursuant to which a mental blur should occur when the minds of "I"s or "we"s subconsciously but "cannily" generate "subversive," non-"postmodern" (and "therefore" non-"democratic") thoughts; failing that, prevention of the faux-"discoursing" of such thoughts, in "contexts" in which "Pomobabble" (thus far) falls short.(19)

critical bite, comp. n.-comp. v.: severe and disruptive criticism -- perhaps even with a sarcastic tone -- directed to "I"s; when directed to "us," see "mean-spirited"; (fut.): ticbite.(20)

critique, postmodern process: white noise (buzzzzzzing); "decentering" "doublethink" "discourse"; (alt.): the Scream; (obsol.): unorderable cognitive chaos.

cultural studies, comp. n.: the essentialized agglomeration of multiple particularized incompetencies, homogenized with "left-wing" axiology; a...

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