What does Orwell say about the term 'democracy?'

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell says that the term ‘democracy’ is problematic. In fact, he classifies it as a “meaningless world” because it does not have a clear and accepted definition. To exacerbate this problem, any attempts at defining this term are universally “resisted” from all sides.

For Orwell, the central problem with the term ‘democracy’ is that it tends to only be used as a positive term; as means of praising a country, for example. As a result, this has enabled the “defenders” of all types of political regimes to claim to be democratic. In this way, the term ‘democracy’ can be dishonestly used by a politician to justify a dictatorship or totalitarian regime without fear that anyone will question it.

As such, Orwell believes that the term ‘democracy’ is similar to other words like ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’. These words lack any solid definition and are, therefore, routinely abused by politicians.