April 8, 2013

Suddenly, language matters

Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting emails and Tweets from people telling me how, eg., Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin are talking about how crucial control over language is to the efforts of progressives looking to deconstruct and then invert entire categories of meaning in order to institutionalize the left’s epistemology, such as it is, out of which flows — inexorably and inevitably, as I’ve been fond of saying over the years — a collectivist and authoritarian system of government, complete with its police state enforcement mechanism.

They must be reading your blog! people have told me.  In fact, lots of people on the right must be reading you, because suddenly the case for retaking language is ubiquitous.

But we all know that’s not the case, my site having been quietly placed on the “do not acknowledge” list sometime in 2009-10 after a well-covered dust-up over the very issue of language and interpretation.  Meaning that if Rush or Levin et al are taking their cues from any of the conservative blogs (and Levin will remind you that he’s been talking about this for at least 4 years), it’s from the big, award-winning conservative blogs and information clearing houses on the right, where (ironically!) not too long ago discussions of language — particularly my dissertations into intentionalism and why what we believe ourselves to be doing when we claim to be interpreting not only matters, but is the foundational bulwark against the spread of leftist ideology — were considered “fundamentally unserious” and a distraction from the real political necessity of learning to speak cautiously and pragmatically so as not to give the left a foothold from which to attack us.   Which in turn would show our reasoned, god-faith beneficence and allow us to win over the “moderate” voters who have been taught that conservatives are unrelenting hardliners who refuse to compromise.

— Unlike the left, which historically has been  all about togetherness and bipartisanship. Right up until such time as the “dissenters” are either forcibly re-educated or else paved over on the road to collectivist Utopia.

So while I appreciate that some of you have been around long enough to recognize me as a sort of referent for current discussions, I assure you that all this means is that, for some who will now take over as the authoritative conservative voices preaching the importance of linguistic assumptions on political and social trajectories, there’s even more reason to pretend I don’t exist.

It’s shabby and cheap, but then, you don’t win trophies for playing nice — and ultimately, it doesn’t even matter, so long as the linguistic message gains purchase.  Because that message — along with an all-out war on the propaganda arm of the government, the mainstream press — are two things that will most dramatically reshape the political (and social, and “moral”) playing fields.  Which I’ve been arguing here for over a decade now — oftentimes against some of those very same newly authoritative conservative voices.

Unfortunately, the GOP establishment has decided retaking the language and combating the press is a lot of hard work, whereas simply emulating the left is much easier and is therefore perfectly in keeping with the intellectual laziness  so consistently on display among our GOP leadership class.

Which means it will be up to the grass roots and influential conservative opinion shapers, many who are new to the fight, to take up the cause of language.

Better late then never, I say.  And if they need any help with the nuts and bolts, they can always just visit my archives.  My being a giver and all.




Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:57am

Comments (19)

  1. It’s too late now, they shoulda listened 10 years ago.

    Reagan budget director David Stockman:

    Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.


    These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it can’t happen. It would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net…

    The United States is broke — fiscally, morally, intellectually — and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse.

    via Styen

  2. Err, Steyn that is…

  3. One G. Beck, influential radio voice and publisher I’m told, has been devoting time to outing Progressivism as a bipartisan effort. I.e., the GOP is part of the problem and should not be thought of as or assumed to be conservative.

    At. All.

    Classical Liberalism may still go down with a small caliber slug in the back of the neck, but slowly people are thinking about doing some heavy lifting while it’s still breathing and somewhat vertical.

  4. Good piece, LBascom, notwithstanding Stockman’s baggage and many detractors, typically from the merely ostensible right.

    We are tax and debt slaves and no rhetoric was expended in the making of that assertion. We are tax and debt slaves and the Republican Party is a lodger over on the Democrat Plantaiton aimed at keeping it that way.

  5. Give until it hurts, Jeff. And I know it does.

  6. Maybe we’ll have better luck with the language when it’s Spanish.

    I maintain that most of the “conservative opinion makers” out there are doing more harm than good by guilting/browbeating us to stay with the GOP/neoWhig party, and putting serious Constitutional topics off-limits as being some kind of “damaged subject” (like whether a “natural born citizen” needs to be a child born of two American citizens).

    My fear is that America cannot spend money she does not have indefinitely, and that something, probably really bad, will happen as a result when (not if) this continues for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, America is awash in cultural rot, and fewer and fewer of us have enough substance to make a decent helping of Soylent Green, much less a Constitutional Republic-restoring-patriot.

    These don’t seem like wild extreme beliefs:
    1. Presidential candidates should be eligible for the job.
    2. America should have a sustainable budget, and if she doesn’t, bad,bad things will eventually happen.
    3. Ordinary working folks probably ought to understand that marriage involves a man and a woman, and not to worship Lady Gaga.

    Which Fox News Contributor or Wall Street Journal opinion page columnist speaks for me even on this?

  7. I just hope things end up better for you than they did for John the Baptist.

  8. Well I imagine John the Baptist was well rewarded in Heaven. But saying that just sets me up for more mockery I suppose.

  9. 1. Presidential candidates should be eligible for the job.

    If the job is to go Cloward-Piven on the country, you have to give this dude a golf clap.

  10. My alternative platform:

    1. Presidential candidates should be boring, competent managers.
    2. America should have a tiny little budget, sufficient to maintain those minimum standards spelled out in the Constitution.
    3. Ordinary working folks probably ought to worry about raising their families and saving money for a lake home, secure in the knowledge that they are safe from social engineering movements.

  11. Silver Whistle says April 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm
    If the job is to go Cloward-Piven on the country, you have to give this dude a golf clap.

    If he golfs like he shoots baskets (or rides a bike, or throws a baseball), it’ll be the only time he hears a golf clap.

  12. “Who?”

  13. I’m guessing that Patterico, who truly gets intentionalism in a way that you, Jeff, never could, is giving them some behind-the-scenes coaching.

    Which would be fun to watch. If only we had some hacker friends we could get to gather information for us.

  14. More betterer not so broken link

  15. ‘Seems to me, our goal shouldn’t be to emulate the left’s shimmering, poetic guises, unless it’s to rehearse them in learning them. Even Barbara Streisand kicks off her Gucci sleeks before taking a shower.

    And is this still being debated? Whether we should strive to be Adepts in the same theatrical crafts our determined opponents playand win at, if only to use their tactics on them, if only sparely and judiciously, and when the dramatic flare will most influence a suggestible audience?

    Is it?

  16. Or not?

  17. What, you didn’t hear of the conciliatory Republican advisors telling Doc Carson he wasn’t acting in his own interests — didn’t understand his own interests, even — when he called out the leftist racist scum while visiting with Levin on the radio last week, steveaz? Or doesn’t that at least raise the question you also pose?