George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (First published in Horizon, April 1946)
Later reprinted in the collection Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays in 1950; "Politics and the English Language" can be found in Harvest Books' paperback "A Collection of Essays" (among other books).
George Orwell established himself as an important political writer with his two satires, Animal Farm and 1984, and in "Politics of the English Language" he again connects language and current events. But here he considers "not the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought."
In Orwell's view, politics effects writing ("when the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer") but writing also affects politics. Because the purpose of political speech is to smooth over horrific events and ideas, it infects our language with "euphemism, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness," and that leads to acceptance of the intolerable, which in turn encourages politics. Orwell charges his audience to resist this vicious cycle by writing as clearly as possible, and he outlines his method for doing so.
In reading this essay, one must be aware of the political climate in which Orwell was writing; the end of World War II, the rise of the Soviet regime, the last year of British occupation of India – all of which Orwell had become politically involved in. But the impact of this essay even on today's audience cannot be underestimated. Simply googling the title shows how often the full text is disseminated.
The full text
Orwell as a political writer
Louis Menand's New Yorker article criticizing Orwell
A response to Menand's article
Orwell's theory of language being put to use
On the relevance of Orwell today
On the widespread abuse of the term "Orwellian"