When I was a toddler, I decided normal human words were not good enough, and so I invented my own words, for reasons I am unable to provide an adequate reason for. The remote control for the TV, I referred to as an ‘Ah Ah Ah’. My dad still calls it that. A spider, was a buru. And Santa, was Ge-a. I do not understand what made me see a spider, and say “Oh, there’s a buru.” It isn’t even like I attempted to say spider, and got it wrong. Buru sounds nothing like spider. There is no species of spider called a Buru. In fact, Buru is a tiny island in the Maluku Province of Indonesia.
In my defence, I was creating my own language. I didn’t need your English bullshit language, in which the plural of house is houses but the plural of mouse isn’t mouses. I wonder, how far would I have gone, had I not been taught English as soon as I started school? Would I have came up with my own vocabulary? Would I have came up with my own words, for situations that even the English language doesn’t have words for? I would absolutely love a word for the fact that the only door in the history of the World that doesn’t have a top or a bottom, is a door to a public toilet cubicle; the one door you want a top and bottom to exist, through fear that a friend might appear over the top, with a Phone camera, and ending in you having to close your facebook account. Surely that situation is enough to warrant a word? I would have came up with a name for that situation, had I been able to develop my own language.
Instead, I would just make my dad sing ‘heartbeat’ from behind the door, whilst he held my baby sister above the door, so it looked like she was really tall and singing. I was 2. Apparently, I found it fucking hilarious.
I was awesome.
Anyway, the point of this blog is the power of the spoken word. The Greeks and the Romans knew exactly how important it was. It was a tool used by the political and religious classes, to manipulate the population into doing exactly what they wanted. Cicero perfected the art of rhetoric. The three main devices used by the Orator, are pathos, logos and ethos. They are all features of manipulation. Pathos is defined as an appeal to the emotion of the audience. Logos refers to reasoning and logic. Ethos means to appeal to an audience’s sense of National pride, or Religious beliefs, or a Political ideology…. in other words, appealing to an abstract sense of community.
We see it politically all the time. John McCain during the run up to the 2008 Presidential Election gave a speech against Universal Healthcare in which he claimed that the British NHS refuses to treat patients over 75. Gasps of shock from the audience resonated throughout the hall. Political rhetoric that is simply untrue. I know it was an horrendous lie, and a manipulation of the audiences naivety, because my 83 year old grandma was being treated by the NHS, on that very day. To get away with such a ridiculous lie, and not be booted out of politics for it, shows just how nonchalent we have become politically. We don’t bother to check our facts, we simply wait for a politician to tell us. And the politicians know how useful this tool has become.
The Conservate-Lib Dem coalition defends every pointless cut it makes, by starting the answer with “as a result of the legacy of debt left by Labour”. Seriously, when you see a Tory or Lib Dem being interviewed, see how long you can count before they mention the “legacy of debt“. Simon Hughes of the Lib Dems got to 23 seconds today. Record! It is an attempt to justify, what they clearly are not comfortable justifying using the truth; their own ideology. BBC News asked a guy in a pub, what he thought so far of the Coalition. He said that they need to desperately get the debt reduced quickly. The journalist asked him why he thought that was. He couldn’t answer. Now, to me that suggests that he had simply heard time and time again the right winged rhetoric of the Tory Party, and thinks he sounds intelligent, if he simply repeats it. It shows that the Tories really did win the political discourse war, not with reasoned debate, but with easy terms, idiots can understand. He doesn’t bother checking facts for himself. Given that the Tory Party won the most seats at the election, it suggests that a large majority of people who will be badly hit by the cuts to public services over the next few years, voted Tory because they kept hearing the apocalypse-type rhetoric that public spending needed cutting immediately, or we’d all die. The Labour Party were useless at providing a differing opinion; a progressive narrative, and they paid for it. The current Labour leadership battle is nothing of any worth. The same centrist politicians who have been on the scene for at least the past five years, using the same rhetoric they use to win votes rather than challenge the centre-right monopoly on political and economic discourse that has become prevalent in recent years. None of them seem to be real progressives. On subjects like immigration for example, they pander to the Right and the media perception. It is a supremely complex issue, that deserves more than one view that only ever says there is a huge problem. They aren’t putting forward different, progressive views, or challenging the mainstream opinion. They are pandering.
On immigration, from both sides of the political scale, all we hear is that it is a problem. Immigrants are labelled illegal and dangerous. They apparently take our jobs and the only way to deal with it, is to ‘secure the borders’. That isn’t progressive. That is simply tying a weak bandage over a very deep wound. To truly deal with immigration, you have to work internationally to find out why mass migration occurs. Firstly, you have to accept that if your borders are open to capital and goods, closing your borders to labour is always going to cause huge Global inequality. Capitalism and Nation States are vastly incompatible. You need to truly be committed to eradicating poverty. You have to work internationally to force working standards across the World based on human rights. You have to allow smaller producers a better chance at survival against huge Western Corporations. You have to spread democracy that isn’t just about creating puppet governments who will open native markets to America business interests. There has to be a joint effect across the World, to fight global inequality. Then, migration will fall. Guaranteed.
What worries me, is that there has been an obvious systematic attempt to undermine all sections of the public sector, whilst keeping the failings of the private sector as quiet at possible. The vast majority of the British Public quite obviously felt uneasy at this, and didn’t buy into it at first, because during the most unpopular Labour government in generations, the Conservatives STILL didn’t manage to secure a majority. I would argue that they have no mandate to push through tough cuts now. The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party both ran their election campaign on the idea of slower and less vicious cuts that the Tories proposed. The combined votes of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat Party added up to just over 15,000,000. The Tories vote count, was just over 10,000,000. Therefore, 5,000,000 more people in the UK wanted slower and less vicious and less deep cuts than is now happening. We are hardly a beacon of democracy right now. So the idea that the British public felt that Labour had forced this horrendous debt that needed cutting deeply, immediately, was wrong.
The rhetoric works. The constant “We’re all in this together” from George Osbourne makes me squirm, and yet apparently people lap it up. I cannot understand why.
The reason people are so easily political manipulated, is because we simply don’t have time to understand and investigate for ourselves. We rely on what the politicians tell us around election time, and the Party with the loudest voice becomes the voice of truth, which is surely a logical fallacy. The loudest voices in the corridors of Whitehall, are those who represent money interests. Rich interests. Therefore those who tax avoid will always be less important to the political classes, than those who have no voice yet scrounge a few extra pound every month in benefits. And then the rhetoric starts. You’re an evil socialist if you think differently. You’re a communist if you suggest Big Businessmen should express some responsibility and not walk away with millions upon millions in bonuses whilst making thousands of workers redundant. It stinks of bullshit. Joined with our lack of time, and our indifference toward the continuously projected rhetoric (I believe it’s known as an appeal to ridicule), we are also……ya know……like……. totally……. like……….not bothered…….ya know………. because….. like we just…………want to……….get well drunk and stuff……..like……yeah? The poet Taylor Mali sums up what I am getting at beautifully, with:
“And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!”
An inarticulate mass, is a disinterested mesh of people whose lives consist of jobs they don’t like, long hours they wish they had more to themselves in their short lives, and one holiday for two weeks a year to look forward to and nothing else. It is no wonder we allow Politicians to presume to tell us that things will get better when they are in power. We will never be happy because our economy which is based almost entirely on consumerism (hence the easy credit bubble) ensures that we believe we will only be happy if we buy more shit we don’t need. Happiness can never depend on how much you own, only on how little you need.
I wonder if those poorer people who voted Tory know that the Tories wanted to ride the recession out with no stimulus or help for them. A large majority of them would have lost their jobs, and their homes had the Tories been in power. Not only that, but David Cameron voted against minimum wage legislation. He didn’t want minimum wage. I wonder if those poorer people knew that before they voted for him. The rhetoric worked, because it was the loudest and most coherently constructed. It didn’t matter that it was full of illogic and lies, because there was no opposite coherent message to counter it. And it has been that way for generations. Before elected politicians; we had Kings and Nobles; Cardinals and Popes who had supreme power, and they used Religious rhetoric (the Pope still does) to scare, and coerce, and manipulate at will. No one opposed it, because to do so would have meant certain death for heresy.
In 1517, Pope Leo X offered to sell pardons for sin, in exchange for a lot of money, in order to build St Peter’s. So poorer people, thought this was an easy way to heaven. It was actually just a way for the Catholic Church to build it’s power, and actually quite a novel way, given that it had spent the previous few centuries building it’s power, on violence and blood.
Skip a few centuries down the line, and the Pope has the nerve to refer to people like me as being a problem because I don’t believe in Organised Religion; whilst at the same time, telling people in AIDS ridden African Nations that hang on his every word, that condoms actually spread AIDS, and that God doesn’t accept condom use. Church rhetoric is far more dangerous than political rhetoric, because people do not do there own research, or think for themselves when it comes to politics or the Church, the difference is that the Church promotes ignorance, and unquestioning acquiescence.
World War II was the era of big, lasting, epic speeches filled with manipulative rhetoric. Hitler was arguably the king of propaganda through speech. He managed to turn an entire Nation against a minority, in much the same way as the American Right are doing with Islam right now, only better. Churchill was an excellent speaker. In a speech to the House of Commons in 1940 he said:
You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
What Churchill decided to ignore, was that he was correct in referring to the Nazi regime as a monstrous tyranny, the British were at that time an Empire ourselves. The lands we owned were won by enslaving populations, murder and rape of the land. The reason I, and the rest of the UK is in a strong economic position in relation to most of the World, is due to the fact that we had a solid grounding based on exploitation that was still going on quite horrifically in Churchill’s time, and of which he was a supporter. We carved up Africa into Nations, based not on the hopes of the population, but on what best suited our imperialist vision and that of France.
We are made to believe that one ruler in government, telling us how to run our lives, is bad. It is big bad intrusive government; tyranny. But, when big business does it, and when our workplace tells us what it means to look and act in an abstract concept of “professional”, how to talk, how our faces should look, what jewellery we can wear, it is perfectly fine. It is the height of human freedom. When we work hard and government taxes us, we consider it to be a great evil. When business takes the money we have earned in a shift, and the majority goes to the man at the very top whilst we receive the bare minimum; it is great, it is ‘free’. Business is in essence, pretty totalitarian. It is a dictatorship. It is lots of little Stalinist states run by megalomaniacs. It certainly isn’t freedom.
In Australia, all I heard from Tony Abbott, was “Omg Labor’s debt is awful ARGH! Vote for me, to save you all from economic ruin“. The problem was, within three minutes of research, one comes to the inevitable conclusion, that the right winged Mr Abbocare if the way we carved up the map of Africa would provoke countless tribal wars and ethnic cleansing over the decades, we cared only for what suited us economically. If Africans suddenly rose up and wanted out of British control, we suppressed them with violence. We favoured dictatorial ethnic minorities in African nations because they had vicious hierarchical systems and so could be brought on side to help the Colonialists; the Fulani in Nigeria is a good example of this at work. The entire Empire, even during Churchill’s time, was based on the idea of social darwinism; we believed we were superior to the Africans and so had every right to exploit them. Would Churchill not consider this a ‘monstrous tyranny’ also?
Cicero would not be proud of the American Right Wing. The Tea Party brigade. The Glenn Beck obsessed idiots. They are playing the rhetoric game all wrong. It is not subtle, or intelligible, or even well crafted manipulative bullshit. It is just utter bullshit. Almost laughable. The Tea Party brigade have referred to Obama as a Nazi, a racist, a Communist, a Socialist, an immigrant, and an anti-American terrorist sympathiser. It stinks of bitterness, because this level of anger was never thrown at the most evil and horrific President America has had, well, ever: Bush. They seemed to keep quiet then. It feels simply that big business has funded a campaign to suggest that any universal benefit to the entire population that inevitably bites into their immense profits, is only turn America into some new USSR. It isn’t. But the voice of the enraged Right Wing is the loudest, and so history is rewrote to the will of the loudest.
The American Right Wing has a thing about rewriting history, in their favour. Any fact that seems to contradict them, they suggest is just Marxist propaganda. In Texas, the school board voted in favour of a curriculum that teaches the superiority of American Capitalism. No economists or historians were asked for their opinion on the curriculum. It will also try to inject creationism into science teaching. This annoys me the most. Purely because evolution is not a Right vs Left issue. It is fact. It is like trying to suggest in a school text book that actually, gravity might not exist at all. The religious fundamentalists do not seem to be able to differentiate between the word ‘theory’ in every day use, and ‘theory’ in scientific use. ‘Theory’ in scientific use is the explanation to explain the fact. So, gravity is the fact – that everything falls to earth if you drop it. Einstein’s theory, is currently what we use to explain why that happens. Similarly, evolution – being the idea that we are all descended from a common ancestor, is the fact. The theory that we currently use to explain it, is Natural Selection. In fact, the entire field of modern biology and medicine, is based on this. So when those board of education members get sick, they should perhaps pray instead of being treated by evil leftie evolutionary heretic doctors. To implant their skewed understanding of the World into a text book, for future generations to be indoctrinated with, is surely wrong at best, and pretty damn abusive at worst.
Southern America during the Civil War managed to convince very poor people, to fight for the right of their rich counterparts to own slaves. They billed it as a war over States rights. Yes, States rights to own and exploit black people. It’s odd because the North wanted slaves to be free. For some reason, southerners believed this would flood them out of the jobs market, and black people would now take all the work. The irony of the situation is that the black slaves already had their jobs. If i’m a rich man in Southern America and I can get a black slave to work my land for free, or pay a poor white man to do it, i’m obviously going to pick option one. So i’m so far unaware of why poor white people were so up for fighting on the side of the rich white folk. I’d suggest it was purely racist reasons. A form of racism that was created specifically to stop the poor white folk from joining hands with the poor black folk and fighting these rich bastards who held them both down.
President Bush spent eight years telling Americans that if they didn’t support the horrific imperialist ideals of the Republican administration, the torture, the innocent deaths and the illegal expensive wars; they were un-American. And now, we have a generation of Americans who seem to think that keeping quiet and waving a flag chanting U.S.A whilst their President wastes billions of killing innocent people in multiple countries, is the American way; but trying to correct a healthcare system that benefits no one but insurance companies, is un-American and Marxist. The power of rhetoric.
I have a new policy, of assuming that all politicians are the pocket of business and so will never say or do anything to benefit the population. That all business men are bastards from the day they are born, and have some kind of deeply totalitarian needs. And that spiders should be renamed ‘buru’.