Below is the translation of my lecture delivered at a literature conference in Lille, France, on March 9, 2018. The event was sponsored by the publishing house Le Retour aux Source and Edition Bios. Other speakers included authors, journalists, and publishers Robert Steuckers, Alessandro Sansoni and Pierre- Antoine Plaquevent. Next day, just a block away, Le Front National held its congress at which Steve Bannon spoke. Speeches from our event will be posted shortly.
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It is necessary in our speeches to first decipher the language of the subject under examination as well as social conditions where this language is spoken. I will focus in my speech on language manipulation by the Brussels Empire, or as I prefer to call it, the Brussels System, and how this system keeps subjecting us to semantic manipulations. There have been already many critical works published on Brussels as a European capital and on its huge administration. It would be therefore useless to harp for the umpteenth time on the cases of incompetence and corruption, or on the absence of common foreign policy of the Brussels bureaucracy. The un-political (“inpolitique”) is the main feature of this Europeanist structure whose pompous name “the European Union” is being marketed as the best of all worlds. In terms of its foreign policy it suffices to recall the failure of the European Union, after being launched in Maastricht in 1992, to halt the war in former Yugoslavia. More recently, there has been a complete absence of a common Brussels policy regarding the regulation of extra-European migrations that are changing the face of Europe now.
As far as the expression “fake news” is concerned, it should be noted that this is a recent American expression whose meaning needs to be examined in Europe. Here is an example of “fake news” in today’s politics of Europe. The choice of the term “refugees” by the Brussels ruling class and by the mainstream media in Europe when depicting non-European mass migrations carries a sentimental value which is supposed to trigger, right at the outset, altruistic feelings among European citizens, while at the same time forcing them to perform expiatory mea culpas, and ultimately adopt the rites of political suicide. The first observation we could make is that a good or a bad choice of political language will affect good or bad political decision making. If the European Union had agreed a few years ago on the choice of the term “migrants,” instead of the self-pitying term “refugees”, the governments of Europe would perhaps have subsequently adopted a more realistic policy towards non-European migrants. In any case most non-European migrants are not refugees but people or vagabonds from desolate and distant countries responding to the call of false or fake imagery projected by the hyperreal Europe, which, in turn, is perceived by them as a location for a life on an equal footing with Europeans. In its ecumenical and pseudo-Good Samaritan endeavor, overflowing with self-hatred, and through the recital of words of the so-called welcoming culture, the European political class, with its center in Brussels, is allotting itself with good conscience without however being able or willing to meet migrants’ hyperreal demands or match their phantasies.
The expression “fake news” refers to the classical game of simulacra and simulations interacting with each other. It is commendable to reread Jean Baudrillard in order to grasp the full meaning of “fake news” which now happens to be the main pillar of the language of the political class in Brussels and Washington. Let us quote Baudrillard:
We live in the illusion that it is the real that is missing most. On the contrary; the reality has reached its apex. By means of technical performance we have reached a degree of reality and objectification to the point that we can now talk about the surplus of reality, thus becoming more anxiety-prone and more bewildered. (The Perfect Crime, 1996).
The loss of the sense of the tragic among our politicians is bound to result in their construction of false empires with no popular legitimacy. It suffices to substitute the term “technical performance,” used by Baudrillard, with the noun “Facebook” or “Twitter” in order to acquire an illusion of “fake news”. This overkill of falsity, being part of “fake news” in Brussels and Washington now, cannot, however, last forever. In the wake of the uncontrolled arrival of the masses of migrants, the issue of security all over Europe will be further compromised to the point that fatal consequences must be expected in the months and years to come.
In order to understand the “fake news” empire, we may have to make a brief comparative study of political terms fashionable in the mainstream media in America and Europe today. The study of the etymology of new words, along with their semantic shifts, will help us to better understand the catastrophes lying ahead. The American expression “fake news”, as well as many other American expressions that have sneaked into European languages, seems to be in vogue in the political and media circles. Why do we avoid the use of more precise French expressions that better mirror the concept of fake news, such as “la langue de bois” (“wooden language”) and “la pensée unique ( “the uniform mindset”)? These very specific French expressions reflect far better the phenomenon of “fake news”, namely the lies spread out by the media and the political class of the System.
A trademark of the tyrannical system, which we call today “totalitarian”, is its misleading use of a flowery language, on the one hand, and on the other, the use of a demonic language teeming with abstract and vague words and expressions, such as “democracy”, “human rights”, “tolerance”, “humanism” “diversity”, “integration”, etc. The American expression “fake news”, which contains a high dose of irony, is a compound noun that can mean everything and nothing, and that can therefore be used anytime by anybody on in order to smear somebody. This expression has recently been popularized by US President Donald Trump in own responses to invectives launched against him by the mainstream media. Not surprisingly the System in America and its counterpart in Brussels are inclined to brand its critics with the “fake news” label. In order to better cover up its political fragility, the System—perhaps we should call it “the Empire”—has recently passed a law in Germany against anonymous distributors of “fake news,” that is to say against Facebook wrong-thinkers (“ mal-pensants”) labeled in the German media lingo as “hate preachers” (“Hass-Redner”). Once again, we must emphasize the need for a good study of the disinformation techniques emanating from the System, or rather, the new “langue de bois” (aka newspeak) used by the System and its scribes. It should also be noted that the English expression “hate speech,” is part of the fake news vocabulary. “Hate speech” is an additional lexical barbarism that originated in America some thirty years ago and which can mean everything and nothing at the same time, while shutting up the mouth of a political opponent. My freedom of speech will always be tagged by my opponent as “hate speech”.
In America the expression “fake news” belongs more to a colloquial language than to a sophisticated academic vocabulary. In the American language, the term “fake” can be used as a verb, as a noun and as an adjective, thereby providing a speaker with a margin of maneuvering much larger and wider than the synonyms and adjectives “false” or “phony.” The French translation of “fake news” with the French expression “fausses nouvelles”, that is, “false news”, although correct, does not carry the same disdainful tone toward a disliked politician or toward some despised media outlet to which the term “fake” is addressed. The word “fake” makes up a universe of social simulacrum and not just a small world of political lies. In France one might just as well use the French translation “factitious news” (nouvelles factices) when talking about “fake news.” To fully grasp the derisory and hyper-real meaning of the American expression “fake news”, one could also resort to the French slang-tainted expression “les nouvelles bidon”, the word “bidon” having a far stronger and more colloquial meaning than the English word “fake.” We seem to have made a full circle now, landing back at the very rich and unique French political expression “langue de bois” which, when translated into English does not carry at all the same sarcastic meaning.
For their part, the Germans have also begun using the borrowed American expression “fake news” — albeit always within quotation marks. They often replace this word with their own word from the same semantic family, i.e. “Lügenpresse” which means literally “the lying press.” This German compound noun is far more explicit, although having an unsavory scent inherited from the Third Reich. “Lügenpresse” means in French “la presse mensongère,” or in English the “lying press.” This compound noun rhymes perfectly with the word “Judenpresse” (the Jew-Press), which was very popular during the National Socialist era in Germany.
In France, instead of “fake news”, it would be more appropriate to use a down to earth expression, such as “intox” (“toxic”) for example, or a more refined term such as “désinformation — or simply the word “propaganda”. Anyway, with the expression “fake news”, we are not reinventing the wheel given that many books have already been published on fake news and political propaganda in the Liberal System and also written in a very clear and more understandable language. We can mention here the well-known writer George Orwell, who in a simple and readable language, long ago, wrote about the danger of the “newspeak” — or the “novlangue” in French.
It goes without saying that we cannot go beyond legal limits of the so-called free speech whose sermons our ears are forced to be attuned to on the daily basis. Neither are we allowed to tackle the modern taboos that make up the edifice of the Brussels Empire and its counterpart, the Liberal System. Not only are we submerged with the language of “fake news” by the mainstream media in politics, we are also victimized by fake victimologies at colleges and universities where we are forced to study “fake victimhood stories.” (“fausses histoires victimaires “).These lies, propagated by the mainstream media and government agencies, also carry the weight of legal repression against “bad-thinkers” ( mal-pensants).
However, fake news dissemination can easily become a double-edged sword that can turn against its promoters, as observed daily with the rising loss of credibility of the mainstream media in the United States. This phenomenon is quite unique and revolutionary in its scope in view of the fact that the so-called free press is the foundation stone of the Liberal System. Hence the reason that we must never overestimate the stability of the System. Miracles can be worked with our own coded language.
In order to become aware of the increasing instability of the System and its fake news techniques, be it in Brussels, be it Washington, we should draw some parallels with the former communist universe in Eastern Europe and take a look at its political vocabulary. Many books in France have covered semantic aberrations in the ex-communist world. We could cite some authors who had a good understanding of the lexical manipulation in the communist world, as for example Alain de Benoist and other connoisseurs of the communist language, such as the French Alain Besançon, or the Russian novelist Alexander Zinoviev. I myself have written a few annotated articles on the communist language in ex-communist Yugoslavia, both in French and English. What strikes the eye is that there are many similarities between the official language in the West and the official language of the ex-communist East. The first conclusion one must make is that these similarities appear more glaring today because, following the fall of its communist Double in Eastern Europe, the Liberal Empire, or the Liberal System in the West, or, simply put, Liberalism, has been laid bare. The System can no longer hide behind old, false, or “fake” anti-communist narrative that used to be its main baggage during the Cold War. Essentially both Liberalism and Communism are twin brothers and the reason for the fall of Communism must be sought in the fact that Western Liberalism has been far more successful in building the empire of falsity and fakeness than the former communist universe. Moreover, in today’s Eastern Europe, the ruling class is largely made up of old recycled communist apparatchiks using almost the same old communist language, albeit embellished this time around with less aggressive Western-imported qualifiers and epithets, and therefore rendered more digestible for the public.
Deconstructing the Liberal Newspeak
Similar to “fake news” in the Liberal System today, the communist lexicon of yesteryear also resorted to heavenly and demonic words respectively. Terms like “democracy” and “living together”, or “brotherhood and unity” were repeated on all wave lengths in the communist universe. On the other hand, expressions such as “enemy of the working class” or “enemy of the people” belonged to the demonic lexicon, intended to silence anti-communist opponents. However, the eternal muzzling word in the communist speech, “the fascist enemy”, which is today witnessing a remarkable renaissance in the West and whose purpose is also the criminalization of the adversary, was the main ingredient in official documents of Eastern Europe. In former Yugoslavia, even a simple primary school certificate carried the phrase at the bottom of the page: “Death to Fascism and Freedom to the People!” Of course, this is not the moment now to enter into analyses of the communist language. Suffices it to say that the criminalizing terms in the communist vocabulary, such as “fascist,” “neo-Nazi” or “racist” have now been taken over, as well as taken for granted by the mainstream media in Western Europe and America in an effort to catalogue all “wrong- thinkers” i.e. all heretics.
To conclude on a positive note, it can be said that thanks to this surplus of “fake news” the demonizing term “fascism,” which was formerly on the daily menu of the communist propaganda, is now losing its original meaning and becoming instead a badge of honor for those for whom this demonic term was originally intended. This was recently the case with the movement the Alt- Right in America, also subjected to the surplus of criminalizing epithets. And that’s good news. Even President Donald Trump, or Chancellor Angela Merkel, or the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, or even the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, each in his own way, is often described by detractors as “fascist.” There is a nice French proverb stating “on est toujours le con de quelqu’un d’autre” (“everybody is someone else’s asshole”). In the fake news language of today’s System, every free thinker must be someone’s “fascist.”