Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Totalitarian Word Play, Freedom & New Words

Simon Saunders:  Dare to be Daniel!

by Brian Bamford

LAST week, one-time editor (unpaid?) of the now defunct Freedom, Simon Saunders, accused Northern Voices of 'Doxxing' him.*   By that, I think he means that the Northern Voices Blog has 'outed' him by allowing the publication of his 'real name' in the public domain.  I ought to say at this stage that Mr. Saunders' name is already in the public domain in the sense that he has been for several years a paid journalist on the former Communist Morning Star using his 'real name'.  For some strange reason Mr. Saunders is shy about being identified with the anarchist publication Freedom or anarchism but happy to be a paid journalist on the Morning Star which is generally associated with a political philosophy 'Communism' or 'Marxism' which has been described as 'morally and politically bankrupt' (see Lord Kenneth Clarke's 1970's essay on 'Civilisation'.  

Mr. Saunders, who is now over 30, went from playing children's computer games like 'Dracula in London' when he was 8-years-old to University; to editing Freedom (the Anarchist journal) in his twenties; to writing as a reporter on the Communist Morning Star; he has never had what some people would call a proper job.  Yet, in accusing me and other editors of the NV Blog of 'Doxxing' he raises for me an interesting point about the introduction and use of new words into the vocabulary.   

In an essay written around 1940 entitled 'New Words', George Orwell wrote:
'At present the formation of new words is a slow process (I have read somewhere that English gains about six and looses about four words a year) and no new words are deliberately coined except as names for material objects. Abstract words are never coined at all, though old words (e.g. 'condition', 'reflex', etc.) are sometimes twisted into new meanings for scientific purposes.'   

Orwell goes on to recommend that 'it would be quite feasible to invent a vocabulary of, perhaps amounting to several thousand of words, which would deal with parts of our experience now practicably unamenable to language.   

I discussed this Orwell essay 'New Words' with the Manchester academic and ethnomethodologist, Wil Coleman, at that time my friend Harold Scunthorpe, a Friend of Freedom Press, and I were intending to publish what was to be a Raven on Noam Chomsky's linguistics and politics in 1999.  Both Wil Coleman, and the Wittgensteinian academic and 'green anarchist', Rupert Read, had written critiques of Professor Chomsky's linguistics for publication.   

In a way Orwell is dealing in this essay with some of the problems of language and communication addressed by Ludwig Wittgenstein in his book 'Philosophical Investigations' published later.  Orwell for example is really dealing with Wittgenstein's notion of the issues of solipsism and the problems of a private language when he writes:

'For one man, or a clique, to try and make up language, as I believe James Joyce is now doing, is as absurd as one man trying to play football alone.'   

The editor of the now defunct paper Freedom, Simon Saunders, when he admonishes me and Mr. Albert Hall, the writer of the comment revealing Mr. Saunders' real name, refers to the relatively new word 'doxxing' and has even been kind enough to give this word a meaning or dictionary definition: 'doxxing' equals '

Wittgenstein, in his later work, challenges dictionary definitions by showing that a word like  'game' has an infinite number of meanings, and Orwell writes of the meaning of a poem:

'The dictionary-meaning has, as nearly always, something to do with the real meaning, but not more than the “anecdote” of a picture has to do with its design..'   

When one considers the preoccupations of Orwell's later book '1984', one can well understand why he wants to extend the volume of words to embrace meanings which better cover the contents of our minds and inner selves.  The strategy of the Party in that book is to reduce the vocabulary through 'Newspeak'  in order that it would be impossible to articulate or think subversive thoughts   In the appendix to '1984' entitled 'The Principles of Newspeak' Orwell wrote:

'It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by the year 2050...  The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.'   

At the beginning of Wittgenstein's 'Philosophical Investigations' he quotes from Augustine's 'Confessions' and he writes that:  'Every word has a meaning.  This meaning is correlated with a word.  It is the object for which the word stands.'   

I don't suggest for a moment that Simon Saunders, one-time Editor of Freedom and now a paid-pundit on the Communist Morning Star, has thought his through his position with reference to these considerations when he he tries to explain to me the meaning of the word 'doxxing'.and urges me to 'take down' his name from the Northern Voices Blog on the dubious grounds that he may be subjected to some form of blacklisting by some Human Resources Department in his 'industry' – the newspaper trade.         

Mr. Saunders ought to understand that to qualify for inclusion on a blacklist one has to do something as such inclusion is a kind of accomplishment.  In his Obituary entitled 'Freedom, 1886-2014:  An Appreciation' David Goodway describes the blacklisting of an earlier editor of Freedom:

'Vernon Richards had qualified as a civil engineer – during the war he worked on the last significant stretch of rail track to be constructed in the British Isles at March in Cambrideshire – but another consequence of the trial (for “conspiracy to seduce from duty persons in the Forces to cause disaffection”)  was the realisation that his imprisonment would serve to blacklist him in his profession.'  
The fact here is that Vernon Richards was placed on the blacklist of the civil engineering industry because of the stand he took in urging the returning troops from the Second World War to 'disaffection'.  Unlike Vernon Richards, the journalist Simon Saunders wants to edit Freedom shyly in the shadows.  Now I believe that that approach represents a kind of cowardly corruption that runs through some sections of the British left today like a stick of Blackpool Rock.  Unfortunately, Mr. Saunders is not alone in what I see as this shallow, shy skedaddler politics.  It represent a sad degeneration of the radical body politic in this country.  
  I note that despite my request you have still not taken my real name down from comments on your blog connecting me to radical politics (comments under your "Anarchist Fed.: Under the Pavement Politics" article).  As I have noted to you before, I keep my real name off such things for a reason, as once it's up online in this manner it becomes immensely easy for a prospective employer to keep me out of a job simply by Googling my name. In modern times outing people in the public domain in this way is known as "Doxxing" and is generally regarded as extremely reprehensible behaviour.
If you have any pretensions to fighting blacklists, rather than enabling them, then take my name down immediately.


Agatha Runcible said...

Leave the lad alone Bammy.You know tha sen that middle-class posers like Saunders are ten-a-penny in the Britsh anarchist movement today. They're the sort that go out leafleting in balaclavas so they're not identified by the HR dep't. The real buggers to blame for Freedom's demise were the grandees who were running it. They were as clueless as Saunders. The lad used Freedom to launch himself into a career in journalism. It looked good on his CV. A simple google check would have told that 'doxxing' is when someone's personal info is leaked onto the internet. Wise up you old bastard!

Ant X(billybobince) said...

Seriously, I don't know who you are or what you are on, but just fuck off out of my inbox with your petty little playground bitchyness.

Editor said...


Below please find a comment from Carlos Beltran, who I first met together with his companera Molina in 1979 in Madrid, at the famous V Congresso of the CNT. He is still an anarchist and the translation is as roughly follows:

Hello 'Ingleses',

'In my opinion some groups, as they say are 'Anarquistas' are more preoccupied in being "More Catholic than the Pope", and that they struggle against the system together with the the workers, immigrants, the unemployed etc. They believe they have the absolute right and don't accept nothing more than their own ideas, like any group of Stalinistas, these groups detest more any difference inside their own ideology, much more than they do that of the exploitors. Sectarianism and isolation within a society produces totalitarian reactions... Against this virus exists a vacine, and it's name is 'LIBERTAD'.'

A Passionate Embrace Y Salud,

Carlos Beltran

Carlos said...

Hola "Ingleses": En mi opinión algunos grupos que dicen ser "Anarquistas" están más preocupados en ser más "papistas que el papa", que en luchar contra el sistema junto
con los trabajadores, inmigrantes, parados etc. Piensan que tienen la razón absoluta y
no aceptan nada más que sus razones, como cualquier grupo Stalinista, odian más al discrepante dentro de su propia ideologia que a los explotadores. El sectarismo y el aislamiento de la sociedad produce estas reacciones totalitarias........Contra este virus
existe una vacuna y se llama "LIBERTAD". Un fuerte abrazo........SALUD.

Anonymous said...

Copper's nark!


“How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is To have a thankless child!”

― William Shakespeare, King Lear