“It starts with banning words,” said Jocko Willink, retired Navy SEAL and author, warning of totalitarianism in the context of growing digital censorship in episode 263 of his eponymous podcast.
Willink reflected on the lessons of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s the Gulag Archipelago while examining how control over language lays the foundation of control over minds.
“It happens slowly,” Willink said of manipulation of language, “and you can see this, like in the Soviet Union. … Part of it starts with speech. It starts with banning words. It starts with changing the meaning of words, and that’s what happens in the book, Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Manipulation, corruption, and narrowing of language drive commensurate damage to people’s capacities to comprehend the world, observed Willink. He noted the centrality of language to human cognition.
“We’re talking about removing the ability for human beings to express themselves properly,” Willink remarked. “We’re removing