An Orwellian spelling change
Why, within a historic blink of the eye, within perhaps the last couple of years, has virtually everyone—including magazines, including book publishing houses, even including many right-wingers—stopped capitalizing the words “Communist” and “Communism”?
Communist is the name of a political party or group of political parties: the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party USA, the Communist International (Comintern), the French Communist Party, the Italian Communist Party, and so on. Every person who has ever been referred to as a Communist, ranging from Vladimir Lenin to Ho Chi Minh to Gus Hall to Angela Davis, has been called such because he was a member of that party (or, more colloquially, because he belonged to a Communist front organization or otherwise shared the Communist ideology and goals). Communist and Communism are proper names, and have always been treated as such. Why then has the word suddenly been reduced to lower case? “Nazi,” meanwhile, continues to be capitalized.
I can only suspect that the makers of these rules—liberals all—decided to start putting Communism in lower case so as to diminish the historic importance—and the vast totalitarian evil—of Communism, so that it would only seem like a tendency, a vague, general attitude, not an organized movement, party, and ideology that sought to control the world and for a long time did control a very large part of it, and that still controls China, although the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party has of course been changed in key respects allowing free business enterprise, though not other types of freedom.
At VFR, Communist and Communism will continue to be capitalized, as will “the West” and “Western civilization,” which more and more people in this country—following the wimpy, apologetic British who don’t even consider the name of their own civilization a proper name—have been spelling in lower case. Indeed, the way the Brits have been going, in another five years they’ll be spelling British as british.
Michael P. writes:
I’ve always thought that “communist” was meant to describe economic theory, as opposed to “Communist” which refers to a political system.LA replies:
Yes, of course, “communism” lower case denotes a general condition of economic equality and sharing, as when people speak of the “primitive communism” of the early Christians.Mark K. writes:
I was at an Atlanta Barnes and Noble bookstore today and noticed a section entitled “Thought Provoking Books.” This corner contained books about atheism by Hitchens, Dennett, Harris and Dawkins. Books about God of course were elsewhere—in the “religion” section—obviously not falling under the category of “Thought Provoking Books.” Ah, the neutrality of booksellers…LA replies:
Yes, it’s funny to think that, say, the parables of Jesus, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, or Augustine’s discussion of the nature of evil in The City of God don’t rank as “thought-provoking.”LA writes:
As an example of the lower-casing of “Communism,” even by conservatives, look at these excerpts from former UN ambassador John R. Bolton’s recent article, “One world? Obama’s on a different planet” in the Los Angeles Times (though the spelling may have been the editors’ rather than Bolton’s):August 13
In reply to a comment Ron L. posted in the thread, “The Russia quandary,” LA writes to Ron L.
On a side point, you of all people, with your background in 20th century history, should know that Communist and Communism should be capitalized. It’s the name of a party and an ideology. It’s a proper name. Always has been capitalized. I just wrote about this the other day. We’ve not talking about some vague desire for equality, but of the modern Communist Party which took over and controlled Russia and many other countries.Ron L. replies:
I disagree. Not all references to “communist” even in terms of Russia or the USSR are about the Bolsheviks or the Communist Party. Communism exists in Russia after the formal end of the Soviet Communist Party. Had I meant the Communist Party of the USSR, I would have written that or CP-USSR. Would you capitalize all uses of the word “conservative” or “liberal” in regards to Great because of the existence of the Conservative Party and Liberal Party?LA replies:
In the case of the Conservative Party in Britain, of course that is capitalized. But in the case of conservatism generally, even in Britain (e.g., “the conservative British columnist Leo McKinstry”), or American conservatism (e.g., “the conservative movement”), it’s not capitalized, because it’s not a formal thing, it’s a general tendency. In the same way that a person who belongs to the Democratic Party in the U.S. is a Democrat, but a person who generally believes in and is advancing democracy is a democrat.Ron L. replies:
Point taken. It should be “Communist Revanchism.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 09, 2008 06:40 AM | Send