Author Topic: Left-Wing Language for Your Right-Wing Needs  (Read 169 times)

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Offline Tolpuddle Martyr

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Left-Wing Language for Your Right-Wing Needs
« on: September 15, 2017, 12:56:39 pm »
Found this article recently and I think it dovetails nicely into some of the discussions on proposed bans on Israel boycotts and a lot of the back and forth on political and social justice topics that get chucked back and forth here.

Quote
I’m not the first to note that a lot of activists today are fixated on language and that with this comes a fear of saying the wrong thing and getting iced out of a movement. The flip side of this is that when someone speaks the right words, we assume it means they’re one of us. But there’s a problem: language can be learned by anyone, it can be taught in business seminars and in online forums. If we don’t subordinate language to the material changes we’re fighting for, we lose the ability to draw clear lines between us and them.

The first thing that came to mind was our possibly departed friend UP and the shields that were not, but let's not open that can of worms without many stiff drinks beforehand.

I half-jokingly speculated in another discussion that some PR flack might try co-opt the language of the oppressed for corporations, them being 'people' and all in order to protect them from "hate speech" by anti corporationy haters. But the language used to support making anti Israeli boycotts illegal certainly fits in here, as does the sneaking suspicion many of us have that anti hate speech legislation could be used to cosh the oppressed instead of help them.

Thoughts?

Offline SCarpelan

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Re: Left-Wing Language for Your Right-Wing Needs
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 02:46:50 pm »
This is something I see all the time. People on the right adopt the language used to discuss complex issues about power and oppression and switch it around in a way that seems perfectly logical if one's understanding of the issue discussed is only superficial. While not necessarily intentionally dishonest intellectually it has similar result as if it was: it takes much more intellectual effort to counter it than actually doing it. Countering this type of distortion requires explaining why the reality doesn't really support using the language in this other context and it's easy to look like you are just using a double standard. Even if your argumentation is solid it won't get through to anyone who lacks the empathy to see the world from other people's perspective and doesn't understand how identical language can have different connotations in different situations due to underlying historical and social issues.

Offline Tolpuddle Martyr

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Re: Left-Wing Language for Your Right-Wing Needs
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 08:11:47 pm »
Yeah, there's two manifestations really when it comes to the adoption of the "language of the oppressed". Accidental and strategic.

Accidental is simply identification with the plucky rebel instead of the Sheriff of Nottingham because only anonymous weirdos like the denizens of 8chan actually want to identify with the oppressive villain. Examples include "rebel" confederate flags, a zillion ranty reactionary talk shows on television, radio and their web equivalents proclaiming to be the voice of fearless truth, the Klu Klux Klan in "Gone With The Wind and gamers proclaiming themselves to be a discriminated minority.

The strategic is more insidious but, to me, it's more interesting. Some of this fuckery is directly addressed in the article where it covers the exhortation of pro-Israel students to "talk left" but Pruitt's condemnation of climate change talk as "insensitive" also comes to mind.