On The Psychology and Language of Power
The language of contemporary politics, and of politics in general, is fascinating to me. Mainstream politics, particularly in the media, seems to be filled with deceptive and meaningless verbiage. There are a lot of buzzwords meant to spark an emotional reaction in people, and the meaning of certain terms has flip-flopped to almost their polar opposite over the course of the decades and centuries (for example, the term liberalism used to signify a dedication to individual liberty, while in contemporary politics it is almost completely detached from its original meaning, and simply means someone associated with the Democratic party or someone with a vague set of ideas associated with "the left"). There are also a lot of false dichotomies that try to force us to choose between two irrational positions (liberal/conservative, republican/democrat, capitalist/socialist, and so on).
Political power, particularly in our modern sham democracies, seems to be dependant on such an abuse of language in order to control the ideological atmosphere. Political identity is largely constructed on the basis of preconcieved and ill-defined terms. Political philosophy is not discussed in any significant manner, everything is more or less reduced to a matter of petty identity politics. It's all about appealing to cultural preferances. The appeal to emotion and short-term or more petty personal interests is common. And words that typically have a positive connotation are used to get people to support politicians and win them over to certain specific ideologies. Even a perfectly good word like "freedom" can be used as a weapon to justify tyranny.
George Bush and Dick Cheney are perfect examples of this, with their justification of mass-violence in the name of freedom. I favor freedom, but it doesn't follow that I should favor them and their policies. Barack Obama is another example of this, with his justification for his authority by appealing to "hope" and "change". I have hope and want change, but it doesn't follow that I should favor Obama and his policies. These are perfect examples of the abuse of language as a weapon. I can have totally irrational premises, and bully someone with phrases such as "the truth", "morality", "the good", "the people", "the workers", "personal responsibility", and so on, as my authority to get them to agree or comply with me.
Consequentially, modern politics seems to have devolved into a confusing haze of words and signs that don't have much of a context or any significant content to them. Power elites can justify just about anything they want in the name of good-sounding things. And even then, sometimes the assumption that these good-sounding things are so good in the grand scheme of things isn't quite accurate. Appeals to things like national entity and altruism are essentially meaningless to me. So I come to reject even many of the phrases and concepts that are relied on. I reject the implicit assumptions of mainstream politics, and am unfortunately lead into a cynical attitude when I see the masses hooray for such things.
Being somewhat of an adherant of analytical philosophy, clarity is an important thing to me, and it seems like most political language completely undermines clarity. Everything breaks down into vast overgeneralizations and arbitrary categories that noone could possibly fit into as an absolute. Assumptions are made about people's beliefs based on a few terms they use, which ends up being a strawman. For example, if I talk about "free markets", some might assume I'm just some sort of Republican or conservative. I'm actually very hostile to conservatism. Or if I express concerns about corporate power and racism, some might assume I'm some kind of Marxist and politically correct. I'm actually very hostile to Marx. In a sense, mainstream politics has stolen perfectly good words and taken them out of context. In another sense, it has invented new words that we are forced to accept as a way to categorize ourselves. This confusion has to stop. Clarity is called for.