Orwell wrote, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The way that words such as freedom, liberty, and rights are used seems to me to illustrate his point, and this is something that citizens and their representatives in the press should resist. Our government uses these words to proclaim its virtue and its power, and both the government and its opponents on the left in all parts of the world use them to insist that the economic policies they favor are beyond debate. In the process, both sides diminish the value of these words in expressing the need to limit power, question exclusive claims to virtue, and foster debate.


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Aryeh Neier is the president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations.