Posted by: quiscus | May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012

“The Politics of Language and the Language of Political Regression

Yet throughout the social turmoil and profound socio-economic erosion of living and working conditions, the dominant ideology informing the movements, trade unions and political opposition is reformist: Issuing calls to defend existing social benefits, increase public spending and investments and expand the role of the state where private sector activity has failed to invest or employ. In other words, the left proposes to conserve a past when capitalism was harnessed to the welfare state.

The problem is that this ‘capitalism of the past’ is gone and a new more virulent and intransigent capitalism has emerged forging a new worldwide framework and a powerful entrenched state apparatus immune to all calls for ‘reform’ and reorientation. The confusion, frustration and misdirection of mass popular opposition is, in part, due to the adoption by leftist writers, journalists and academics of the concepts and language espoused by its capitalist adversaries: language designed to obfuscate the true social relations of brutal exploitation, the central role of the ruling classes in reversing social gains and the profound links between the capitalist class and the state. Capitalist publicists, academics and journalists have elaborated a whole litany of concepts and terms which perpetuate capitalist rule and distract its critics and victims from the perpetrators of their steep slide toward mass impoverishment.

Even as they formulate their critiques and denunciations, the critics of capitalism use the language and concepts of its apologists. Insofar as the language of capitalism has entered the general parlance of the left, the capitalist class has established hegemony or dominance over its erstwhile adversaries. Worse, the left, by combining some of the basic concepts of capitalism with sharp criticism, creates illusions about the possibility of reforming ‘the market’ to serve popular ends. This fails to identify the principle social forces that must be ousted from the commanding heights of the economy and the imperative to dismantle the class-dominated state. While the left denounces the capitalist crisis and state bailouts, its own poverty of thought undermines the development of mass political action. In this context the ‘language’ of obfuscation becomes a ‘material force’ – a vehicle of capitalist power, whose primary use is to disorient and disarm its anti-capitalist and working class adversaries. It does so by co-opting its intellectual critics through the use of terms, conceptual framework and language which dominate the discussion of the capitalist crisis.

Language, concepts and euphemisms are important weapons in the class struggle ‘from above’ designed by capitalist journalists and economists to maximize the wealth and power of capital. To the degree that progressive and leftist critics adopt these euphemisms and their frame of reference, their own critiques and the alternatives they propose are limited by the rhetoric of capital. Putting ‘quotation marks’ around the euphemisms may be a mark of disapproval but this does nothing to advance a different analytical framework necessary for successful class struggle ‘from below’. Equally important, it side-steps the need for a fundamental break with the capitalist system including its corrupted language and deceptive concepts. Capitalists have overturned the most fundamental gains of the working class and we are falling back toward the absolute rule of capital. This must raise anew the issue of a socialist transformation of the state, economy and class structure. An integral part of that process must be the complete rejection of the euphemisms used by capitalist ideologues and their systematic replacement by terms and concepts that truly reflect the harsh reality, that clearly identify the perpetrators of this decline and that define the social agencies for political transformation. ”

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31018

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