How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language

The vandalism of language was one of the weapons used by the Left to destroy the best traditions of Indian literature. Sanatana culture regards the written and spoken word as sacred.
How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language

In this series

How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language
A Short History of the Premeditated Leftist Slaughter of the Indian Literary and Aesthetic Tradition
How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language
From Philosophy to Faeces: Origins of the Leftist Infiltration and Takeover of the Indian Cultural Space
How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language
How the All India Progressive Writers' Association was Used as a Communist Vehicle to Bulldoze Indian Literature
How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language
Nawab Nehru Pumps Patronage for the IPWA
How the Progressives Bombed Literature by Ruining Language
How IPTA Captured Drama and Cinema

Because all ancient civilizations regarded language as sacred, they befittingly assigned a Goddess, or Devi to represent it. Thus, at once, both the spoken and the written word became akin to worship. All ancient Indian political philosophers and savants uniformly prescribed harsh punishment for committing vaak-paarushya or using profanity or harsh language. Beginning with Maharshi Panini up to the modern times, our grammarians have prescribed and upheld this sacred credo: using Sushabda (correct usage of words) earns virtue and using Apashabda (improper or distorted usage) begets sin. A lifetime of paying careful attention to using language and employing restraint in speech automatically leads to inner cleansing and outward refinement.

More than any other class, politicians have not only understood the central value of language but have mastered it. The most celebrated political leaders throughout history were also the most accomplished orators and writers. It is also the reason that language continues to occupy a prime spot in the annals of the Communist or the Left-Liberal cult. We have seen elsewhere how the Left has mastered this dark art of inventing new terminology by mangling language. This primarily works in two ways: a seemingly-positive label is invented and applied to themselves and its antonym is taken from the dictionary and applied to its enemies. The simplest definition of the enemy of the Left: anybody who disagrees with them on anything.

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Among other things, George Orwell’s immortal classic, 1984 is akin to a user manual of linguistic distortion whose political consequence is the collective mind control of an entire population. Three years prior to 1984, Orwell wrote a sort of non-fictional preface to the novel in his other classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Right from the opening line, the essay takes off like a rocket:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way… Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light… Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes. Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes… But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.

It is for this reason that our grammarians and linguists insisted on a thorough and rigorous training in language before writing commentaries and digests on crucial subjects like philosophy, aesthetics and literature. It is a measure of our civilisational downfall that today, half-baked pretenders whose only language training—if it can be called that—is in English have neither fear nor shame to write “commentaries” and “interpretations” of say, the Nasadiya Suktam, the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita. Arguably, this pretension also has its subconscious roots in the century-long Leftist vandalism of language. Orwell continues,

The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.

The other word that can be added to this ever-expanding list used to be commonplace till the fall of the Soviet Union: Progressive. The first usage of Progressive was in 1600, derived from the French, Progressif, which is in turn derived from Latin. In 1889, the word was applied in the sense of taxation. However, until 1908, progressive largely stuck to its lexical meaning of “characterized by advancement in action, personal character, etc.” After the arrival of Karl Marx and his gang, it quite obviously took a political character. Now it meant, “radically liberal, favouring reform, etc.” The implicit meaning of “liberal” and “reform” was either left deliberately undefined or invented and applied to the prevailing situation. After a lull of more than a decade, the word Progressive has made an impressive comeback after the Far Left took over the Democratic Party in the USA.

Ismat Chughtai
Ismat Chughtai

However, in every case, the label Progressive always has a virtuous, almost holy connotation but in reality, it is a highly-loaded, political term. Thus, no matter in which context and subject it appears, its underpinnings are always political. To the unsuspecting casual reader, the term, “Progressive Literature” evokes a positive aura, which is why it has managed to subvert the psyches of several generations.

But it is when we read what they mean in practice, the subterfuge becomes crystal clear. Here is Munshi Premchand:

It is the duty of Indian writers to give expression to the changes taking place in Indian life and to assist the spirit of progress in the country by introducing scientific rationalism in literature. They should undertake to develop an attitude of literary criticism which will discourage the general reactionary and revivalist tendencies on questions like family, religion, sex, war and society and to combat literary trends reflecting communalism, racial antagonism, sexual libertinism…

Notice the sheer sense of self-entitlement that oozes right from the very first line. Also notice how almost everything in Munshi’s quote is left deliberately vague, undefined and hanging, and simultaneously, there is an overarching sense of judgement. Terms like “scientific rationalism,” “reactionary,” “revivalist,” and “communalism,” are taken to be self-evident truths because…well, because the Progressives uttered them. These terms are topics for serious and deep inquiry and continuous exploration and cannot and will not have conclusive answers due to their innately subjective character. But Munshi Premchand only gets worse:

It is the object of our Association [IPWA] to rescue literature from the conservative classes... to bring the arts into the closest touch with the people… as well as lead us to the future we envisage.

Here, the sense of entitlement gets the heroin dose of haughtiness: “rescue literature from the conservative classes?” What does that even mean? Think about it. The word “conservative” comes from conserve, which actually has a positive connotation in phrases such as “conserve all the best values and traditions of the past,” and so on. And Premchand’s last line of a “future we envisage” is actually a barefaced confession: it is the future for India that the Communists had envisaged back then taking orders from the USSR. It is a future that was realised under Nawab Nehru and his toxic dynasty. It gave us the JNU and the pervasive Leftist destruction of Sanatana culture and its spiritual civilisation.

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But we get ahead of ourselves.

In the next part, we shall delineate some facets of what “Progressives” like Munshi Premchand and his club defined and dismissed as “conservative” literature.

To be continued

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