The remainder of the title would not fit: “The destruction of language in politics”. The series this is a part of has the labels:Anti-capitalist meet-up and anti-capitalism. No better a way to introduce my topic. Those are “buzz words” and have been around for a very long time. What do they mean? I would guess that the vast majority of the people who use these words along with “communism”, “socialism”, “democracy” , “freedom”, liberty”and many others have no real idea what they are talking about. Political exchanges are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” just like in our Western movies. But many of us are more sophisticated or at least we think we are. Read the diaries here and you will be able to see what I am getting at. Language is a very interesting thing. We have dictionaries and now the Google and Wikipedia sources for word meanings. The technology is racing ahead faster than we can comprehend. Umberto Eco calls it the modern magic. We use it like magic not really knowing how it works or where it originates. This diary is meant to blow your mind. It comes from the strange creature I am, a hybrid between scientist (but very unconventional), political activist (but very radical and unconventional) and citizen of the world rather than of a Nation. Oh yes I am an American citizen because that’s the way things have to be at this point in time. It will change, but I will be dead. When I die I cease to exist. I am 76 now. If I haven’t turned you off yet read on below. I hope to shock you.
First of all, how anyone can be anything but “anti-capitalist” at this point in time is beyond my comprehension. Clearly the plutocrats that run the show have no love for capitalism. If they did they would practice it. Here we are into words and their meaning. Give me a definition of capitalism that fits where we are today. You can’t. We have a system that has evolved to a point that words do not exist to describe it. Show me a place where the words “socialist” or “communist” have meaning.
What is worse about these names is that they imply something that can be defined out of context. If there is one “capitalism” there are many.Each depends on context. Context dependence is my field of study in a way. I study complex systems. They are not something that the reductionist science that has produced modern technology are even remotely like. We live in a world of machines and mechanisms even though our economic myths try to convince us otherwise. The real world, on the other hand, is not a world of machines and mechanisms. Thus we are out of touch with the real world. Very much out of touch. If you understand this you understand why our words have so little meaning. They describer a mythical, fairy tale world.
But we deal in facts and figures you say! Facts and figure only have meaning in a context. If the context is unreal they tell us nothing. One of my sources is George Lakoff. His wisdom has clearly failed to register among us. I won’t even try to repeat it here. It falls on deaf ears among political “experts”. Unfortunately these very same experts continue to wonder why “people vote against their best interests” and why the likes of Romney and his ilk can give Obama a challenge. It is humorous to me that this theater goes on unchallenged and that no one has caught on that they are playing a game that stabilizes a system that they claim to want to change.
Let’s get back to the words thing. We live in a world that is run by corporations that have no National loyalty. Is this Capitalism? Certainly not as Marx saw it. We live in a “Nation”? We vote to “elect” our leaders? How many of these myths can one swallow? Apparently they are very palatable.
I have asked here what difference the outcome of the 2012 election in this country will have on the global system we are a part of. I had no real response. Slowly, very slowly, the realization that as we we gave away our industrial capacity to feed the “capitalists” we lost our clout as well. The global plutocrats (another inadequate word in this modern context) have castrated us and we are really no longer a “Nation” in the old sense of the world. They have as little loyalty to Nations as they do to any other entity that lacks the power to stop them. Yet we live with myths and myths are fed by words. words need not have meaning if they can trigger the wanted responses (Lakoff).
Social evolution is now driven mainly by technology. Communication is instant. The rate of change is beyond comprehension. Meanwhile we plod along believing words we used in the past can help us in this context. We have lost touch with the concepts and we have used words to pretend we know what we are doing. Faust was clear when he made this observation. I wonder what he would say if he could see us now?
An interesting coincidence as a foot note: This diary appeared as I came on to finish this one and it is very much relevant. Slang dissected The contrast between slang, which evolves very rapidly, and political jargon which is basically static, is very interesting. Political language is not alive in the sense that slang is. Some new terms come in fleetingly (etch-a- sketch, for example or mission accomplished) but they have not the same way of becoming viral. I suspect that this helps make my point. Our political language is locked to obsolete concepts but it is locked. The self referential side of this is that it therefore makes new concepts hard to find their way into the discussion. For one reason there is no common language to use to bring them into our consciousness. The old words are buzz words and they evoke the old concepts.