Thursday, September 6, 2012

Politicized Facts, Politicized Language

I've got another rambling post today; somewhere in here is an idea, I'm almost sure of it. Maybe a couple ideas that might be related tangentially, if I'm lucky. I'm out of it today, for some reason, but I figure it better I post it here and drop it  all on my FB wall. More people can see my rambling here.

It's a fun observation telling people on the right and the left things they don't want to hear. For instance, I was in an argument a while back with a friend of one of my friends (I've never met the guy in person, and had no idea who he was). The argument was over the national debt and who generated the majority of it; specifically, a meme that showed the Republic motto "We Built It" above a debt clock that showed the national debt at about 15 trillion dollars. Personally, I think it was an unconscious admission followed by some poor designing, but it is true: most of the debt tends to come from Republican administrations, because their economic policies do not work. Anyway, this friend of a friend brought in "facts". It was like talking to a brick wall at points, but when he really said this:

[...] Clinton was forced by a Republican congress to conform with a balanced budget but Clinton wasn't a Fing Soialist/Communist. Your daddy's democrat party was taken over by communists and Hilaiary sees it. That's why she is not taking dumbass Biden's role or showing up for the convention [....]
I was left jaw agape. He just called Hilary a communist/socialist. Hilary Clinton has seen to it that the Democratic Party was taken over by communist/socialists.

Personally, I'd cheer if that were true, but that's just me. Leaving my political philosophy aside for a minute, let's marvel at that. Hilary Clinton has seen to it that the democrats were taken over by socialists/communists (like they were the same thing - and I think I've corrected this guy before about how they're not the same). It's impossible to reason a person out of a position they didn't reason themselves into, and knowing that, I knew there was no further direction for this to go.

I was never much into football-politics. As far as I'm concerned, neither of the teams are very good, but clearly, one of them is better than the other. I'd rather have my future sold to a corporation and lose freedom that way than have it sold to a goddamn church and thrown back into the 1300s. If I had the option, I'd pick neither. But I don't; too many Americans gave up on the political system a long time ago.

I've also seen a very interesting meme on my right wing friends' page that comes up every so often, and I think it ties into this whole business:

This one comes to me from, but I've seen right wingers use it.

I can some this up in one succulent phrase, aimed at every American who's ever said this:

Jackass, you are the government.

Or, we're supposed to be the government, anyway. It says right there in the Preamble: "We the People". We are supposed to be the ones who appoint leaders who speak on our behalf, because direct democracy is too clumsy in a country with about 300,000,000 people. You are supposed to be active in doing your civic duty, active in voting, and active in seeing the political processes through. Democracy is not something you can just sit on your ass and let someone else handle. It's, "We the People." Not, "You folks while I get a beer."

I'm not going to fault the majority of this country, though, because it's been like this for a good while (since the 1800s at least). What I want to do is examine the language, and the impact that it has our perception of running the country, and how it intersects with language.

In The Blue Pimpernel, the Party has suspended most elections. They suspended most elections, and nobody noticed. Up until they suspended the elections, they were sham elections (and still are sham elections), because the Party wasn't willing to let democracy steal their authority. They heavily regulated who could and couldn't vote. By the time that they did suspend elections, so few voters even bothered showing up at all that nobody even realized it. And the Party worked to disenfranchise as many people from the process; a democracy minus a few thousand is an oligarchy. There's a part in the novel when the Pimpernel and Helsing (at that point Mirage) were running into the slums. Along the way, they passed a telephone pole with a bunch of old political fliers posted on it. "Your vote doesn't matter, so why bother?" was one of the slogans on those fliers. "You can't change a thing by voting" I believe was another.

They ran a campaign to try and keep as many people away as possible, but utilizing language that made it seem like the government was a separate and alien entity that the people had no control over. There was a lot to reinforce that perception, but the Party was honest enough to actually admit it, albeit in an effort to keep cynical voters away.

Take a look at the badge up there. "I love my country. It's my government I'm afraid of."

In a democracy, the people should never be afraid of the government. See, that's backwards. In a proper and healthy democracy, it's the different elements of the government that are afraid of the people, and they're afraid of the people in the same that you would be afraid of your boss - screw up and your ass is fired. We'll find someone else to do the job better. In a strong and healthy democracy, the people, the country, and the government are all the same thing.

And there's that word in there, "government." Government is a useful metonymy when discussing the vast bureaucracy of the United States ruling body, but the "government", as a metonymy, includes everything from the Office of the President of the United States to the United States Post Office. You're afraid of the postal services? You're scared of the Department of Education? You're hiding under the sheets because someone mentioned NASA, or NOAA? Those are all elements of the government. We don't think of them as elements of the government because we haven't been trained to - and we haven't been trained to since we recognize that these are agencies that have a positive impact. They clearly can't be government related, since they are having a positive impact on our society. Everyone knows that government must be negative.

Let that sink in. Everything the government - this agency that doesn't include the Post Office, doens't include the DoE, doesn't include NASA or NOAA - is shadowy and evil. What agency is everyone thinking about? Well, they're thinking about Congress (only NAMBLA has a lower approval rating nation wide than Congress, which means jack all to me because while everyone rates Congress as a whole at rock bottom numbers, everyone is willing to give stars to their own congressman - it's everyone else's congressman that's the problem. I'm not impressed, America. You've cocked up again). They're thinking about the Office of the President, and the Supreme Court. They're thinking about the NSA - now, I'll be honest here; I am fucking terrified of the NSA, because they're a blatant violation of everything this country stands for and should be dismantled immediately - and they're thinking about the Pentagon. These are the agencies that they're thinking about (maybe a few others), but what it boils down to is the fact that we're either talking the Brass in the Military - the five star generals and their mountains of paper work - or the people that they elect (Supreme Court not included; honestly, I'm thankful we don't elect supreme court judges; I'd rather they be appointed by people that we elect. Indirect democracy, I think, is the best case here. Just think - do you want your TEA Party uncle voting for the next Robert Bork to set on the Supreme Court for a life term?)

In a proper democracy, citizens are the highest rank in the military, since we are the one who elects the leader of the military (also a citizen), the President. We elect the people who decide whether or not we go to war. This isn't the best system, granted, but it's better than a few people determining - hey, war is what we want cuz me makes lots'o'mullah.

I love my country. It's my government (that I'm supposed to be electing) that I'm afraid of.

You can't have a functioning and healthy democracy when people don't have the time to participate. When people are struggling to get by and suffering in the throes of poverty and social inequity, then they can't keep regular track on what their congresscritter is voting for and against. When things get too complicated, and you're working 4 jobs and have three kids and are barely making enough to live but somehow too much get any kind of assistance, you don't have the time or the energy or the wherewithal or sometimes even the knowledge to go look up facts and make sure they're being honest. This is why the media was so important. Notice I say "was". The mainstream media is irrelevant now; they've been bought, packaged, and shipped to their new owners - the Filthy Stinkin' Rich.

What's worse, they've been subjected to claims such as "Liberal" and "Left-wing", which are insults.

When you're poor and you're angry, you look for an outlet for that anger. When you feel helpless, you look for a way to get that feeling of control back. You look for a clear enemy to blame it on. And the real enemies are more than happy to provide you with one. They're more than happy to move in and begin using words that sound familiar, but code them in ways that are not. They begin using this code; it starts off slow first, abstract. Only a handful of people understand what it means at first - for instance, using "forced busing" instead of "integration", and "welfare reform" instead of "punishing poor blacks" - it spreads. Next thing you know, an entire coded language, with its own semantics and unspoken rules, is developed. It's like a virus that's coopted the English language, twisting each word it touches to mean something else.

For instance, facts. A society is based on facts; in a democracy, you cannot make an informed decision without facts. But these forces have turned "facts" into things that have as much weight as "opinions." Your ignorance is as good as my knowledge.

That's why that guy can say that Clinton is a socialist/communist. Those word's don't mean what they mean when used in that context; especially after I've corrected him before on using those terms incorrectly. That's why you can call them out right and left, and it doesn't matter. They don't experience cognitive dissonance because they're not being contradictory. These words don't mean the same thing to use they mean to these people.

I love my country, but fear my government. Why vote? Your vote doesn't matter, because it won't change anything. One of them is just as bad as the other, and you're just pissing away your vote if you vote third party. You vote for your right to complain, because no, you realize that somewhere along the way your vote did stop mattering.

This is how democracy dies. Not with thunderous applause, not with the sounds of gunfire, or the stroke of a pin, or invasion from Commie/Nazi/Islamofascist/Brown People we don't like, but with the gentle apathy of the voting class who can no longer find the energy and time to survive, let along stay abreast the latest political developments.

1 comment:

  1. Your daddy's democrat party was taken over by communists and Hilaiary sees it. That's why she is not taking dumbass Biden's role or showing up for the convention

    I was left jaw agape. He just called Hilary a communist/socialist. Hilary Clinton has seen to it that the Democratic Party was taken over by communist/socialists.

    Wait, what? I interpreted that quote as "Hillary has realised the Democrats have become a bunch of commies and given up on them." (Hardly the most accurate claim ever, but very different from your interpretation.)