Here’s the trouble.
Most people can’t read… and so, can’t think.
Not quite literally, perhaps. But, meaningfully. They have been taught – very deliberately – to be sloppy and fluid with words. A given word has a vague, constantly shifting meaning – that meaning transmitted and accepted by a kind of semi-conscious collective osmosis. You “get the drift” – and the word is henceforth used accordingly. It is not necessary to formally announce the new meaning. It just sort of happens.
Examples include liberal and fascist.
A liberal was once a person who believed that people ought to be let alone; that government, if it has any role in human affairs, ought to have a very minimal and background role. That it was tyrannical to control other people, to interfere in their lives, to deprive them of their property, to compel them to fund things they abhorred. Thomas Jefferson was a liberal in this sense.
We all know what is meant by “liberal” today.
It is not Thomas Jefferson.
What about “fascist”? It is among the most inaccurately used words in the language.
Trump was derided as a fascist for criticizing open borders – and (key thing) open-ended federal entitlements. In other words, it is racist – the new meaning of “fascist” – to object to or even question “helping” (another much-abused word) random strangers from other countries who are helping themselves (with help from the government) to the contents of our wallets.
But “fascism” – properly defined – is simply the marriage of Big Business and Big Government. Which Trump may represent – but his recent opponent (the not-“racist”) represented far more virulently. What, for example, could be more textbook fascist than the partnering of the privately-owned/for profit health insurance cartels with the government? The former using the power of the state to compel people to do business with it?
Fascism is Big Business helping itself to the contents of our wallets, with the “help” of Big Government. The car industry and Wall Street bail-outs are further textbook examples of fascism – but that meaning (the proper meaning) isn’t used because it doesn’t serve the purposes of the ruling entente.
The new – political – meaning, on the other hand, does.
Question the economic sanity (let alone the morality) of not merely inviting the huddled masses of the world to come to the New World but of “helping” them with increasingly dwindling resources .. and you are a fascist.
That is, a racist.
You do not like certain people on account of their ethnicity – and actively seek to harm them. Even though you don’t and aren’t. You just want them out of your wallet.
Very effective at stifling discussion. A kind of linguistic photon torpedo aimed at people who aren’t racists – but who do object to having their pockets picked.
What is a “conservative”? Does anyone know? Is there a defining principle that can be used to identify one?
It seems a “conservative” can be pretty much anyone who says he is one – from a George W. Bush authoritarian (and much closer to actual fascism) to the “kindler, gentler” sort his father claimed to be. They want “less” government – but not really. Support “freedom”… to do as they think you ought to.
It is a very big tent, indeed.
When words have no meaning – or their meaning is fluid – thought becomes impossible. In its place, reaction. People are taught to be instinctive rather than reflective. To respond emotionally to certain triggers.
Thus, if you are on the political left, you will respond in a certain very predictable way when the word “choice” is uttered. Even though choice is entirely peripheral to the issue at hand. (For purposes of this discussion, I am not going to debate the moral rightness – or wrongness – of terminating a pregnancy. I merely point out that the issue is precisely that. Not “choice.”)
The government has co-opted terms such as “market” and “customer.” But markets – properly defined – are defined by free exchange, which means one is free to not exchange. When government is involved, that is never an option. Just as it is etymologically abusive to speak of people being “customers” of state organs such as the IRS and the DMV, which one must do “business” with.
Few people raise their hands – or even stop to think about this. It just sort of seeps into the general consciousness and becomes the unspoken basis for conversation. Which is exactly what is desired. To abort certain lines of thought before they even form into thoughts. To channel consciousness along certain lines only.
More than 2,400 years ago, in ancient Greece, Aristotle laid the foundation of Western civilization on the principle that a thing is what it is. A is A. It cannot be something else. A cannot also be B.
To topple Western civilization, it was necessary to render the mind of the West no longer able to make this distinction. To accept that A can also be B.
Or any of them.
It is why people – most of them – can no longer speak coherently about such things as slavery and theft. Because these words no longer have meaning. Or rather, they have fluid meanings. It is not – according to modern usage – theft to have your neighbor’s property taken for your purposes when his property is taken by others acting on your behalf under color of law. It is only theft when you actually do the taking yourself.
You are not allowed to own another human being. Meaning, to force him to work for your benefit, deprive him of his freedom to act, dictate to him how he will live, even to the extent of what he may and may not do with his own body.
But the government does all these things routinely. Legally.
It happens because A is no longer A.
Because people can’t read.
And so, can no longer think.
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