From post-truth politics to "no-platforming" on university campuses, the English language has been both a potent weapon and a crucial battlefield for our divided politics. In this important and wide-ranging intervention, Thomas Docherty explores the politics of the English language, its implication in the dynamics of political power and the spaces it offers for dissent and resistance. From the authorised English of the King James Bible to the colonial project of University English Studies, this book develops a powerful history for contemporary debates about propaganda, free speech and truth-telling in our politics. Taking examples from the US, UK and beyond - from debates about the Second Amendment and free-speech on campus, to the Iraq War and the Grenfell Tower fire - this book is a powerful and polemical return to Orwell's observation that a degraded political language is intimately connected to an equally degraded political culture.
With deep research, knowledge of modern Britain, a citizen's passion, and a boxer's punch, Docherty provides an eloquent defence of a civil, informed public sphere over habit, hate, and clannism. Everyone who can read should read his chapters on free speech, academic freedom, and no-platforming. * Regenia Gagnier, Chair of English Language and Literature, University of Exeter, UK and author of Literatures of Liberalization *