No Words

July 15, 2009 | 3 Comments

Category: Political, Society, Web

For several months now, the Republicans have been seeking to find a way to demonize the Obama Administration, experimenting with the words “socialist” and “fascist” to see which word seems more powerful at evoking fear.

“Fascist” suggests a one-party government controlled by a small elite, often with close ties to specific corporations.  Fascism is often characterized by an atmosphere composed of fear and reprisal.

“Socialist” seems to imply a government focused on the group instead of the individual, denying individuals their desire to do as they please while seeking ways to make the less economically advantaged individuals within the group more secure.  Implied is the denigration of individual rights.

In both cases, there is the implied “in” group and “out” group.  Republicans are seeking ways to have people who identify with being the out group identify with Republicans, who identify themselves as the out group.  Regarding fascism, Republicans work the meme that Democrats are in total control.  Declaring socialism, they imply that the individual has lost all ability to achieve success.

Republicans and Democrats are mirror images of each other in many ways, particularly as regards the military, military contracts, lobbying-based government, foreign relations and both parties agreeing on how the majority of government assets are dispersed.  There is a drift left in hard times that reflects an assignment of government assets to those with the least ability to influence government policy.  In severe downturns, there tends to be less an emphasis on making it easy for the wealthy to become wealthier.  At this time, the Republicans represent those so wealthy that even a moderate turn left represents a potential decrease in an ability to increase assets.  Hence the words “fascist” and “socialist” seem to be emerging easily from their lips.

Both fascism and socialism seem “un-American” and so are used to generate feelings that support an entitled Right status quo that has deeply stratified the nation.  The Right is focusing on the wrong place entirely.  The Right is behaving like the Democrats are their enemy.  They think they are targeting the meme that opposes their interests.

What is changing is the way that humans view themselves, communicate and prioritize.  The massive wave of horizontalization that is underway represented by Internet communication, cell technologies, massive online gaming communities, virtual worlds, interactive entertainment and the destruction of traditional news distribution vehicles is resulting in the democratization of society.

People are feeling empowered.

This is not in the Right Wing’s interest.  It’s not particularly in the interest of mainstream Democrats.  It is in the interest of destratification and lives not consumed with want.

Republicans can continue to call the Obama Administration fascist or socialist.  It’s not unlike yelling at the pitcher in a baseball game, not even from the stands, but through the TV.  Screaming at the actual medium carrying the information might be addressing the changes more directly. Except, in this case, it’s not coming through the TV.

The shift occurring is not represented by differences between the two political parties. The words “socialist” and “fascist” fail to marshal the associations that make clear where we could be headed. Republicans need new epithets. They need to be hurling their slurs in new directions.

Only the transformation, the evolution is so deep, so pervasive, so subtle and sophisticated that so far, we’ve few words that have been able to describe it. Clay Shirkey comes close. Howard Reingold intuits the direction. Ken Wilber describes where he believes we end up. None have coined the word that grasps it.

“Fascist” or “Socialist” don’t do the trick. We’re talking evolution, not revolution. Republicans are locked in a political paradigm. This is a social transformation.

It was the amateur linguist Benjamin Whorf that noted that without a word, we often fail to notice a thing’s existence.

We are noticing. It’s clear that many of us don’t know what to say.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at 8:20 am and is filed under Political, Society, Web. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
3 Comments so far

  1. VY on July 16, 2009 8:57 pm

    I see that network-based revolution is happening slowly, in fits and starts, and organically even now. These things may already be determined based on human nature and internet/mobile technology, but it would be, I’d say, quite fun to help push things along in the “right” direction, since we happened to be born during this fascinating transition time. what generalized “framework” of societal, transportation, financial etc networks underlies our current society, and how can we change the network topology and hence the society in a new direction for the future?

    I like your spatial terminology for network spreading– horizontal, and the associative/narrative space dimension/time dimension breakdown is thought provoking.

  2. Andrew on July 20, 2009 12:15 pm

    Kevin Kelly, Clay Shirky and Howard Rheingold are three writers in this area with important and useful things to say regarding how we can change to network topology and encourage social change.

  3. Alyssa on November 19, 2015 11:19 pm

    If it wasn’t you I’d say something like what’s the worst that can hapepn? but seeing as it’s you, I won’t.We have two weeks planned with military precision and it’s all gone to hell already because my blasted children won’t blasted well sleep and if they do blasted well sleep it’s not at the same blasted time. Is it January 5th yet?

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