Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Our Words vs Their Words

by Jerome a Paris Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 09:51:52 AM EST

Ritter provided some fundamental input yesterday in Ben P's extremely interesting thread (Europe and the United States, "Cultural Relativism" and Islamism), about Newt Grinrich's explicit instructions to his troops to control the language used to talk about their programme and that used to tar their opponents (i.e. us).

The lists are worth copying in full:

"Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" by Newt Gingrich. (link added by Jerome a Paris)

Newt wrote, "Often we search hard for words to help us define our opponents. Apply these words to the opponent, their record, proposal and their party".

And here's the list of words that Newt said you should always use whenever you are going to describe anything democratic or liberal. Always attach these words to everything 'liberal'.

"Decay, failure, fail, collapsing, deeper, crisis, urgent, destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic, lie, liberal, they, them, unionized bureaucracy, compassion is not enough, betray, consequences, limits, shallow, traitors, sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocrisy, radical, threaten, devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive, destruction, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure, anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, anti-jobs, pessimistic, excuses, intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status quo, mandates, taxes, spending, shame, disgrace, punish, bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine, bosses, obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, and patronage."

And as I went through that list, you probably recognized a lot of words that you've heard in the context of discussions about about democrats and liberals and it's no accident. What was amazing to me during this last election was the number of cons who would come onto shows like Crossfire and talking about John Kerry, would just pull these words out of the hat.

On the other hand, Newt said, to the Republicans, that there are positive governing words, positive words that should be attached to any discussion of the GOP or GOP policies, conservative policies.

He said, in fact he said, "memorize as many as possible" of these words. That's a direct quote. "Positive Governing Words".

Here's the words that Newt said should be attached to all things Republican, and have been, basically, ever since this memo came out more than a decade ago, certainly by right-wing radio talk show hosts.

"Share, change, opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform, prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete, actively, we, us, our," (this instead of they or them), "candidly, humane, pristine, provide, liberty, commitment, principled, unique, duty, precious, premise, caring, tough, listen, learn, help, lead, vision, success, empowerment, citizen, activist, mobilize, conflict, light, dream, freedom, peace, rights, pioneer, proud, pride, building, preserve, pro-flag, pro-children, pro-environment, reform, workfare, eliminate good-time in prison, strength, choose, choice, fair, protect, confident, incentive, hard work, initiative, common sense, and passionate."

Perhaps someone with enough time on his hand should take last year's editorials on Europe, France, Germany published in the NYT, WaPo, Guardian etc. and run them through a word count text program and come up with with a list of the most frequently used neo con buzzwords.

I would also suggest that we try to list here the buzzwords that we have identified in recent threads; I will put this thread in the debates box in the near future, and I hope that each time we see signs of such language control (especially in the daily Breakfast threads), we flag the reference into this thread (which will then be easily referenced into the Wiki).


Display:
Ok, let's have some fun and compile a list of the  most powerfull and frequently used neocon buzzwords with regards to the EU's economic performance. Once we are ready we can create our own ET bullshit bingo game.

The game idea of bullshit bingo is simple:

 

Now, what we can do is to issue some new, Europe specific, game cards. It would also be a good tool to promote ET at conferences. I'd volunteer to hand them out to the participants of conferences, seminars, round table and panel discussions in Brussels.  

Anybody got good photo shop skills to give it a try?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 10:43:19 AM EST
Rather than Photoshopping let me suggest another way.

I can design and write a program that will either print out the words (or phrases) as a free-form card, as Ritter suggests, or these words can be associated with a particular subject, or these words can be associated with a particular person: journalist, politican, pundit.  Then by backtracking the particular person can be associated with the Thinktank, Public Policy Group, originating the phrase and the corporate ownership (funders) of those TT/PPG's.  The advantage would be one system could construct a range of cards from the very specific to very general on each different axis of information retrieval.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 11:27:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having me write and operate the program would be really stupid as the program would be in New Mexico, US of A.  This would give rise to operational problems in the production and dissemination of the cards on a timely basis.  Further, additions to the information base would get complicated.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 11:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't you write it and let it over to the European 'branch' of ET to look into where best to host the program? Your idea to link the buzzwords electronicly to a source where the user can find both, more specific AND general information about their political function in the ideological struggle for 'hearts and minds' (a buzzword, too?) is just great! Go, go , go.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 12:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Ritter says, I am sure local hosting/maintenance could be organised. You have an idea for something really special there. I think you should go with it.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 01:05:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can look after this.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 01:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to need a couple of days to think through the information flow, preliminary design, and write the Product Description, as it were.

I'll get that done and report back.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 02:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can lay out some cards in InDesign and make it a PDF for easy printing.

I'd guess A5 is a good size?

I'll mess with it this evening if I get a chance.

The more key words we pick up to customise it, the better. (We should aim for 25, although we might not need so many, I think A5 will be more rectangular than the posted example.)

A few spring to mind so far from Jerome's complaints:

Protectionist.
Fraying.
Sclerotic.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 11:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm clearly full of BS since since I have used 10 of those words in the last week. ;-?

Most of the standard models for presenting Brand Stragies hinge around these concepts, even if not the exact words.

IMHO a far worse sin is to let visually illiterate people loose with Powerpoint. I prefer Keynote myself, but whatever you use, your presentation is only there to remind your audience where you are in the argument. Simplicity is all, and max. 5 lines. How many times have I seen the entire script up on the screen?

If you don't remember your argument, you shouldn't be there.

Only snacks and soft drinks are sold by technology - oh, and maybe sushi conveyors - it is people who sell things. By making people watch the screen instead of the speaker, you lose contact with them.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 03:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 03:36:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly . I'm full of it all.

Sometimes I think I should have worked in a sock factory ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 03:52:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To stay branded : Wolsey?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 01:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that is one of the cardinal points of branding...


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 02:28:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, this is really worth it. Newt himself may have overreached, but the Repubs go on applying the lesson.

Some words that are used of Europe, that are not on his list:

  • struggling
  • immobile
  • mired
  • depressed
  • sluggish
  • dated, out-of-date
  • rigid
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 12:30:59 PM EST
As I see it: The neocon buzzwords to use for the bullshit bingo game card should be drawn from the bulk of the ET comments and analyses which have already debunked the ongoing AngloSaxon spin doctors' verbal assault on the EU economic and social policies. This would also allow us to link the buzzwords to 'The Program'. I guess we now better start to mobilize ET's Locust Watch!

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 01:25:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, I started this comment when I posted the story, but got busy offline

A good place to start is the Economist, and in particular their "Charlemagne" column (effectively a weekly editorial on Europe). This week is pretty typical, and a really good summary of what's at stake:


The nationalist resurgence

Why the forces of economic nationalism seem weaker than those of globalisation

nationalism = bad
globalisation = good


THE merger will liberalise share ownership and create one of the biggest companies in the world, said the minister. "I have a vision of transforming it into a vast, diversified energy giant encompassing not just gas but oil and electricity." Oh, sorry, that was not Dominique de Villepin, France's prime minister, announcing that the marriage had been arranged and would take place between Gaz de France and Suez, two big French energy firms. It was Alexei Miller, boss of Gazprom, describing his company's takeover of a Russian state-owned oil firm last year.

EDF and Gazprom are very frequently used as bogeymen by the Economist. Both are State-owned, and both from evil socialist countries (Russia, the original evil empire in its previous Soviet incarnation, and France as its Western counterpart and today, worthy successor).

State-owned = bad
liberalise = good


There are indeed some uncomfortable similarities between the European Union's mood just now and Russia's state-directed capitalism. The French government seems to favour a sort of Gallic Gazprom, that well-connected and politically influential behemoth.

European Union = bad
well-connected and politically influential = bad (but, presumably, only in evil, Socialist countries)


France, Italy and Luxembourg have little lists of national champions they think should be immune from foreign ownership. The Spanish government prefers a home-grown energy champion to seeing a local firm fall into the hands of a German utility. And so on.

A good sample of who the bad guys are.


Behind this lurks the explicit view that the nationality of ownership matters; and the implicit one that foreign firms could become agents of foreign governments (a suspicion for which there is almost no empirical evidence).

I'll be sure to quote that sentence again next time the Economist complains about Russia's interventionism, through Gazprom, in Ukraine or other countries it supplies with gas - or not.

ownership = good
nationality = bad (or irrelevant, the same thing)


Thus the merger of two French or two Spanish energy firms is acceptable, but a takeover of a French or Spanish firm by a German one is not.

French (or Spanish) governmental intervention = bad
UK or US governmental intervention = ok (cf Centrica or Dubai Ports)


Whether or not this contradicts the law of the European single market, it certainly contradicts the spirit of the European Union, as several commissioners have been pointing out.

actual content of the law = bad (or irrelevant)
"spirit of the law" = good (i.e. what the Economist would want the law to be)


 The EU embodies the notion that countries are better off when they share sovereignty and that, in certain areas--the single market pre-eminent among them--nationality should not matter. Arguably, that would be true even if the EU did not exist: in a world of global capital, ownership becomes diffuse and fuzzy in any case. But the EU does exist; and that makes the notion of defending national champions against European partners as quixotic as saying that a yogurt-maker is a strategic asset in the first place.

France = bad
UK = ok (how does the above parapraph not apply to monetary sovereignty will be explained elsewhere, I'm sure),


Yet official behaviour is only part of this story, and perhaps it is the less important part. Today's hysteria about cross-border mergers is in some ways the opposite of what happened 25 years ago. In the 1980s, the impetus behind the creation of the single market came from liberalising governments; most of the opposition came from companies fearful of being exposed to more competition. Now, argues Ernest-Antoine Seillière, head of UNICE, the European employers' association, opposition to liberalisation comes mainly from governments and unions, while the impetus for change comes from companies.

Yes, an important one:

government = bad
companies = good


Europe is experiencing a wave of mergers, the largest since the dotcom boom of 2000. Unlike previous waves, this one is not just national; it floods across borders. In 2005 the value of cross-border mergers in the EU was the highest since 1999-2000; in the first two months of this year, cross-border deals have for the first time ever accounted for over half of all European mergers by value. Mergers can be wise or foolish, competitive or anti-competitive, of course. But at least they are usually business decisions, not political ones. They have more to do with corporate restructuring and the single market than with the creation of European or national champions.

business decisions = good
political decisions = bad

and of course:

corporate restructuring = good
European champions = bad (and national - read, as stated above, French - champions worse)


So while it is true that Europe is flirting with economic nationalism, it is not the whole truth. It would be more accurate to say that, as in Russia, a battle is engaged between two opposing forces: protectionism and economic nationalism on one side, business restructuring and globalisation on the other.

Heh. That article is a real treasure trove...

protectionism = bad
business restructuring =good

economic nationalism = bad
globalisation =good

and, of course

Russia = bad
European Union = bad (or at least dangerously leaning that way)


 The two inevitably clash. The protectionist instinct is growing and could get stronger: France's anti-competitive actions are provoking other countries to retaliate, risking a downward spiral. But in general the market-opening activities of companies look more powerful than the market-closing instincts of governments.

France = bad (ok, we get it...)
markets = good (whoddathunk?)

protectionism = bad
competition = good (and will prevail, of course)


This is partly because those market-closing instincts are neither uniform nor all that strong. Despite backsliding on trade (most recently a curious attempt to defend Europe's downtrodden shoemakers against competition from that economic powerhouse, Vietnam), the European Commission is relatively liberal--if only because most of its authority comes from policing the single market. Economic nationalists reside in national capitals, as you would expect. And even there, protectionism is a squib, not a constant ray. Governments are in theory committed to market liberalisation and they know that autarkic nationalism would be toxic: they swallow it in small doses out of short-term political expediency or to curry favour with unions.

nationalism = bad
market liberalisation = good

unions = bad.


In contrast, the forces driving companies to go global are relentless and all-embracing. Across Europe, the past few lean years have forced companies to cut costs, restructure their balance sheets, reduce debt and boost profits.

cutting costs = good
debt = bad (really?)
profits = good (now I'm surprised...)


 Interest rates are still low, adding to the attractions of mergers financed by debt. These pressures will not ease. The need for capital and new markets is pushing companies across borders faster than governments can put up obstacles to them.

In case you din't get it:

markets = good
governments = bad

but

debt = good (but presumably only if used for mergers?)
borders = bad


In other words, companies will take advantage of the single market wherever they can. The question is whether governments can impede them. The recent case of Germany is instructive. In the face of high wages, inflexible labour laws and declining competitiveness, the German government's efforts at reform were fitful and half-hearted. But German companies restructured, cut costs, reorganised and laid off workers.

markets = good
governments = bad

(Did we hear that before?)

high wages = bad
reform = good

inflexible labor laws = bad
cutting costs = bad

workers = bad
lay-offs = good

Again, we see what is at the heart of this ideology: labor is a cost, to be cut as much as possible. Anything that prevents that is bad, anything that makes it possible is good.


Competitiveness and business confidence have rebounded. But the cost of relying on companies alone to reform is persistently high unemployment. The moral is that Europe's nationalists cannot reverse or perhaps even much affect the market-opening actions of their companies. But they may increase its cost.

Blaming companies for lay-offs = bad
Blaming governments for lay-offs = good.

And, in case you forgot:

markets = good
governments = bad.

and, most of all, and simply:

labor = cost = bad
capital = profit = good

Nothing new here

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 03:10:26 PM EST
posted as a diary on dKos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/3/4/153625/2911) combining both this comment and the initial diary. Please support and recommend it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 03:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great, Jérôme. I think there's a slip here:

inflexible labor laws = bad
cutting costs = (bad) should read good ??

I'm interested in his rationale for mergers. He says:

In contrast, the forces driving companies to go global are relentless and all-embracing. Across Europe, the past few lean years have forced companies to cut costs, restructure their balance sheets, reduce debt and boost profits.

then:

Interest rates are still low, adding to the attractions of mergers financed by debt. These pressures will not ease. The need for capital and new markets is pushing companies across borders faster than governments can put up obstacles to them.

Does he give no explanation, between the two, as to what exactly is the relentless, all-embracing force that pushes businesses into mergers?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 03:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He can't.

All the available evidence is that mergers generally destroy shareholder value and only benefit the investement banks etc. who make commission on the transactions.

Thus, mergers are praised by the financial press, as they are the lifeblood of their readers, but they cannot be justified to pretty much anyone else.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 04:57:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for spotting the error. I cannot correct a comment, so that will have to stand (thankfully with your correction).

Debt is bad (interest is paid before dividends), but it is good (it brings fees to investments bankers when it is put in place). Bad long term, good short term... sounds familiar?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 06:21:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hoped you could edit the Kos diary, Jérôme.

In response to both you and Metatone: if all he can say to explain why mergers should take place is that the movement towards them is "relentless" and "all-embracing", then that is not only weak argument, but also abuse of language, to be pinpointed as such.

I mean, wtf does "all-embracing" mean in this context? That, once they've sweated off some debt from the last round, (about five years ago), they're ready to take on some more, and it doesn't matter whether it's gonna be a fridge, a couch, a TV, or a new car?

My serious point is that this defence of mergers is conflated with globalization. And, if you've got no solid argument in its favour, then all you need to do is say it's going to happen anyway, don't fight it. From the hideous old joke about rape: Relax and enjoy it...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 03:44:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and, most of all, and simply:

labor = cost = bad
capital = profit = good

You just captured the essence of capitalism.

The amazing thing is how by clever propaganda, most labourers today identify with capitalists, with obvious political and economic consequences. And the labourers still blame themselves (I mean, other labourers) for it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 03:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To me, capitalism is the smart version, with the safeguards (and, essentially, the wealth sharing arrangements à la New Deal and social democracy), and not the caricatural version (feudalism) we are seeing now.

The French have it right when they criticize "ultralibéralisme" - it's the exccess thats bad. They are wrong when they lump everything liberal into that label. Of course, when ultraliberals try to pass what they are pushing for as simple liberalism, then they are, sadly, much less wrong.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 06:24:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A palatable version of capitalism would be one in which people are encouraged to save and accumulate capital for themselves so they can ben independent (or form cooperatives). Instead, people are encouraged to consume to keep the economy going.

Saving and investing make people and the economy stronger, consuming makes people and the economy weaker.

But, somehow, our "capitalist" system is unable to avoid a recession unless everyone is out shopping on borrowed monay. Something is very wrong at the macro/policy level.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 04:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do they have a computer program that produces such articles?
by das monde on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 08:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the best diaries....ever seen.

Actuay i ahve been thinking about prooving it scientifically and sending to a journal.

Actually I just devloped the tool to proof it...I will need just a long list of the archives of multiple papers of the right...It will be interesting to know exactly which words they use....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 04:32:41 PM EST
I think it could be time to start a letter writing campaign. The Bingo Cards will surely be fun, but they're likely to be for domestic consumption and won't have much of an impact elsewhere.

So here's a new game for LTEs.

  1. Use the same language and tone as these propaganda editorials do.

  2. Point out the inconsistencies in the arguument.

So instead of arguing that the article is too neo-liberal and neo-liberals are bad people, point out that (e.g.) the same argument suggests that the UK should give up its protectionist policies and open its borders to foreign capital by opting for the Euro.

In other words use economic ju-jitsu to reveal their own internal bias (i.e. UK/US good, EU, ROW bad.) With enough consistency it's only a matter of time before an LTE like this gets printed.

The underlying point is that for all the huffing and puffing, these arguments are really naked racism, and based on a completely fictitious belief about AngloSaxon supremacy. The only real argument that's being made in all of these articles is AngloSaxon = good, ROW = bad.

Point this out by letting them join the dots for themselves, and watch them squirm. It should be fun...

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 05:37:41 PM EST
This is an excellent idea.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 05:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BritGuy writes:

"I think it could be time to start a letter writing campaign. The Bingo Cards will surely be fun, but they're likely to be for domestic consumption and won't have much of an impact elsewhere.
So here's a new game for LTEs.

Use the same language and tone as these propaganda editorials do.

Point out the inconsistencies in the argument.

So instead of arguing that the article is too neo-liberal and neo-liberals are bad people, point out that (e.g.) the same argument suggests that the UK should give up its protectionist policies and open its borders to foreign capital by opting for the Euro."

snip

BritGuy, I'm actually thinking about a two thronged assault ( call it New Millenium Schlieffen Plan - NMSP). It consists in educating on the one hand our own brain damaged social democratic, green, and otherwise centre-left wing, loosely libertarian and union folks who work in positions of political influence in Brussels with the help of the Bingo Bullshit cards & 'The Programme' and on the other hand in conducting a (as you rightly suggest) well structured offensive of the conservative AngloSaxon press.

And here comes the real surprize:

The Brussels based English bulldog press is suffering from bad, bad nightmares and looking for help to step out of the global wet dream of the neocon death brigades. Remember the article about the new EU propaganda policies I referred to two weeks ago? Well, that was only the beginning. Someone in Brussels will be reading these lines on Monday and looking for additional ammunition to open a new front line to defend old fashioned English conservatism against the trans Atlantic onslaught of the new barbarians.

Learning point:

Ever more "Old English" conservatives are willing to (tactically) join "Old Europe's" fight against the whacko trans Atlantic unilateralists.

The same happens also in America. Read these lines of Pat Buchanan to get a feel of what the general sentiment of US conservatives is. The interview is from 1999 and things have gotten worse since then:

Pat Buchanan:

`What do folks want?' I think there's a sense out there on the part of people, and it's part of my new book, that they're losing the country they grew up in, a country of neighborhoods and communities where they knew each other and there was a sharing of common values and convictions and beliefs, whether you were Democratic or Republican. And there's a tremendous sense of alienation from what's going on in the country and from what they see on television and from what is in the culture.

And if--if you had to name a single sentiment that they really want back, what they see slipping away and in--in economic terms, they don't see the sense of security. There's a real sense of anxiety.
Even if they have jobs, is it gonna be there tomorrow? And--and I think this is one of the problems of conservatism, because what we had
was a conservatism of community, of neighborhood, of town. I mean, I grew up in northwest Washington and guys I grew up with still live here.

But more and more, these places are like the Mon Valley, where they're being ripped up by global free trade and people are having to move out and move on and move on to these cities where they don't know
folks, and move on again.
...
We have defeated the free-trade ideology at the
grass roots, post-NAFTA, post-GATT, post-WTO. That's the only way we could win fast-track or defeat the president on that and defeat Newt Gingrich on that.

 

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 07:32:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the idea of analyzing how words are used to automatically denote a point of view.  I also endorse the idea of finding the best words to say what progressives are for, succinctly and vibrantly, and whenever possible, memorably.

However, we should not fall into the Gingrich trap of throwing in emotively charged words for political effect whether they apply or not.  This would be self-defeating on many levels.  What we need to look for are words that are true, or at least reflect our argument and the facts that support it.

Further, the non-reactionary elements have damaged themselves by adopting jargon, which even when it actually means something excludes those who are not insiders (which is the chief social function of jargon, apart from it becoming a substitute for thought.)  

Also as insights from psychology and social sciences have moved into the mainstream, a generally healthy development, they have unfortunately not only added to jargon and spawned slogans and cliches, but they've helped to damage at least the English language with overreliance on passive voice and other mealy-mouthed constructions, that have marked those who use them.  

To name one prominent example, "supportive of."  This expression is now so ubiquitious among those left of the far right that people may not even remember when somebody actually supported someone or something.  There is in most cases no excuse for the substitution of "supportive of" for "support."  But it is the kind of silly affectation that defines us.              

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 08:31:15 PM EST
This is a comment I agree with one hundred per cent.

The really big job is finding the true words we need to use to convey our positive vision.

That's not to say that criticizing and "deconstructing" (sorry, jargon... :-)) the language of the other side, and the spread in its use through think-tanks, pundits, and journalists, is not important. It is vital.

But how we speak positively, while avoiding the trap of sounding like a sales team hyping a new soap powder, that's, I'm tempted to think, practically the submerged part of the iceberg compared to its visible tip.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 04:10:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm,

given the propensity for both sides to claim positive words, this implies to me that we need to concentrate on producing new words and phrases. Or to jargonize, we need to start creating our own memes. It's true that the right has stolen a lot of our language, but they also put a lot of effort into selling some memes.

(A good, simplistic example may be "Wealth capture is not wealth creation.")

Wealth capture is a meme we can use. But there needs to be more. And then we can start being positive with them.

(Although of course, in this case, negative with them, since I'm against wealth capture, generally.)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 04:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmmm

I wasn't so much thinking of new words and phrases per se, that is, new for the sake of newness (like soap powder talk... New Labour, for example...)

Where Cap'n Future struck me as right was in saying "true". Get to the right words, that say what we want them to say, are clear and appealing, and correspond to reality.

In your example, I'd say the important thing would be to work on the word "wealth". To us, it means something broader than GDP or net personal worth etc. Decide what we mean by wealth, and how to use the word in a way that opens up and enlarges its meaning, would be the task.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 05:46:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See, I guess I think we need to consider that we will never win the word "wealth" over to our interpretation. Better to find a new word "wellbeing?" and use that. Wealth is too connected with money and there is too much of a RWNM focused on keeping it on money. Better to start a new conversation entirely, maybe?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 10:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
P.S. "Never" actually meaning in the medium term or so...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 10:03:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm not happy with the idea that they have bagged the major positive words, and we have to give up and let them win. That's not because I'm against a word like "well-being", just that it's not "wealth". Their notion of wealth is narrowly defined and wrong. We must surely be able to do something about this.

As to how long it takes: we're in no position, imho, to change things in a hurry. They hold most of the means of communication. Shaking their ideological hold may be possible; shaking their financial, commercial hold rather more problematic. So, in any case, I'm thinking of the medium to long term, and I'm thinking, not of the terms of a brief campaign, but of a paradigm shift (jargon alert!).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 10:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the West Wing episode "The Debate":

Santos: "Do you want a President to get out of the way when airline executives are putting their companies into bankruptcy so that they can avoid the pension responsibilities to the workers that have dedicated their lives to those companies?"

Vinick: "Some of our older airlines are having trouble meeting their huge pension obligations at the very same time when they're facing intense competition from low-cost airlines that are so new they don't yet have pensions to pay. Now, an unthinking liberal will describe the airline bankruptcies as the evil capitalists screwing the workers."

Santos: "I didn't say that Senator and I don't think you should put words in my mouth."

Vinick: "No. Of course you didn't say it. You're not an unthinking liberal. Are you?"

Santos: "I know you like to use that word 'liberal' as if it were a crime."

Vinick: "No. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have used that word. I know Democrats think liberal is a bad word. So bad you had to change it. What do you call yourselves now, progressives? Is that it?"

Santos: "It's true. Republicans have tried to turn liberal into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country."

Vinick: "A Republican President ended slavery."

Santos: "Yes, a liberal Republican, Senator. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the liberal party? I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things ­ every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator. Because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."

Taken from The West Wing Unofficial Continuity Guide.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 07:52:18 AM EST
Bankruptcies are not evil, what is evil are government bailouts (funny how the US airlines got bailed out after 9/11 and then, 4 years later, went bankrupt). Instead of government bailouts we should have government buyouts: the cash injected by the government in a 'bailout' should count as a share in the capital, and if the government needs to inject more cash than the company's market capitalization, well, the government now owns a controlling share in the company.

If what can be undertaken for profit can best be done by the private sector, what cannot be undertaken for profit has to be done by the public sector. And then we have to accept that it is ok for public enterprises to lose moneey and be subsidized by our taxes. The question then becomes which unprofitable enterprises are social goods and which are not.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 09:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. However, my point was that this WW scene gave a nice example of how the term liberal has been debased in the US during the last years. Just put it together with an adjective like "unthinking", and if your opponent objects - just do it again. Rip your enemy off his positive adjectives, rip him off the words that he can positively describe himself with. A political force that has run out of positive adjectives becomes speechless and will cease to be a political force.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 10:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vinick: "Now, an unthinking liberal will describe the airline bankruptcies as the evil capitalists screwing the workers."

Santos: "I didn't say that Senator and I don't think you should put words in my mouth."

Vinick: "No. Of course you didn't say it. You're not an unthinking liberal. Are you?"

So, what is the right thing to say?


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 11:37:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jep, in a real debate this would have been a major mistake by a democratic contender.

So, what is the right thing to say?

I can't find an easy answer.

Maybe reverting to the meta-level could be the right thing to do, unmasking Vinick's rhetorical tactic. To be able to do this, empirical analysis of the use of words - just as proposed in this thread - is indispensible.

Another good example is given in the ongoing dialogue: Instead of abandoning semantic ground, I should take the word that is subject to reinterpretation and engage in explaining what it really means. (In the debate, Santos scores big with his response - but it would not be West Wing if he didn't...)

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 12:12:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

How to Waste a Diary

You only have one diary a day. You need to make your mark on the community. You need to make sure the subject is weighty, so that people respect you as a DKos heavy hitter. You are required to appear to put in some original thought and if you have none, then quote the prestigious journals from the UK like the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Economist or the Independent. Or if you can neither add original thought nor new idea, just write it so well that people think your empty pitcher is full. Next stop you get to to receive an invitation to a platform seat at the Yearly DKos convention.

How do you respond to this? Not at all is the wisest move, probably, isn't it? Oh well.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 12:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly...

Since this was not posted as a comment in one of your diaries but in its own diary, and the diary doesn't mention you explicitly, by responding to it you are admitting that it describes you however tendentiously.

Feinted, you overparry, touche.

"an unthinking liberal would say..." "don't put words in my mouth" "you're not an unthinking liberal, are you?".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 01:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn, Jerome, this one was too scintillatingly witty for me on a lazy Sunday. (I like the sound of that word. Scintillatingly.)

"an unthinking liberal would say..." "don't put words in my mouth" "you're not an unthinking liberal, are you?"

BTW: Writing credits go to Lawrence O'Donnell.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 02:04:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HaHaHa.......lol
That's quite a respons....

But I thought that part of the diary had a ironic sound

Just his way to say, hell there are other enjoyable things in life too and that are important too.
He also did read your diary's since he could them place so well without mentioning your name.

Sometimes it is better (IMHO) to seek for the things we agree with rather than for the differences. There is already to much war in the world.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 01:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't worth replying to, Jérôme. Welshman's squib isn't even funny. To run with his equine theme, he sounded as if he'd just come out of the Nag's Head. No doubt his pitcher was empty.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 02:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has indeed been my policy in recent months to not acknowledge his (numerous) comments in my dairies nor his (frequent) allusions in his diaries, but this one just felt like it could be done.

I won't say I'm proud, but it was funny.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 03:46:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]