Orwellian Oxymoron
An IronicName masks its true intentions.


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-21 20:09:36 sponsor: Serocco (last reply: 2012-01-25 05:32:36)

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As an aspiring Evil Overlord, you can't let the citizens of your empire rebel, no matter how much they want to. How to keep dissidents from spreading and organizing? You can start by spying on them, inventing vocabulary that keeps them politically correct, torturing them into believing lies - all the good stuff.

That won't do? Use a Propaganda Machine to establish these. An Orwellian Oxymoron is where you name a particularly malicious program, policy, law or product the opposite of what its true purpose entails. It keeps the citizens in the dark, once again, and the irony adds extra insult to injury for those unfortunate enough to find themselves affected by such an insidious policy/program/product/law.

Take a program designed to brainwash citizens. Name it "Memory Enhancement". See the cash flow, the customers swarm and the citizens falling under your control. Take a law that allows the government to spy on its citizens, and call it the "Patriot Act". Take a drug that turns them incredibly lethargic, and call it "Performance Enhancement". If this is particularly effective, this can qualify as Double Speak.
  • 1984, being the Trope Namer, certainly utilizes this in the form of the various government ministries. The Ministry of Peace conducts war against the other two super-nations; the Ministry of Truth is a Propaganda Machine; and the Ministry of Love is a subversion - it actually lives up to its namesake, in that you're tortured into loving Big Brother.
  • This is far more common in Real Life than one might think in Real Life. In the US, legislation is to be given names that are either unrelated to the legislation in question, or actually in contradiction to what the legislation does, especially if the act in question is written by or for powerful business interests.
  • S.A.I.N.T. from Robocop Prime Directives.
  • The US Department of Defense hasn't fought a war in defense since World War II, and even before then, they've interfered in other wars and/or provoked aggressive responses from other nations. You have the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American war, the Mexican-American war, the invasion of Grenada, and the interventionist wars on Libya (though NATO headed that one), Kuwait, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hell, it was even renamed from the Department of War.
  • C. S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength had the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments- the N.I.C.E., which wasn't very nice at all.
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