We have all been to modern art galleries or at least exposed to some of the pomposity of the spectacle. Consequently we all are familiar with the vague obfuscating, pretzel like, language of post-modern art critique. This language is exactly the same formulae that progressives use for sloganeering and public consensus building. Put simply it is like a box, externally displaying a meaning or meme such as an appeal to sentimentality. However internally, allows anyone to insert any meaning they wish, usually a meaning that practically, functionally, is an insidious will to power. Ultimately it is a form of sophistry.
A common and unintended mistake of conservatives is to take at face value the linguistic/ semantic language of “progressives”. This, upon examination proves to be such a silly and possibly fatal error. If one were to analyse a particularly favourite progressive term, such as ‘equality’, or ‘multiculturalism’, it would be seen that there is no such thing as equality, or to put it another way; ‘equality’ means what the ‘progressives’ wish it to mean at any one time. It is the same with Multiculturalism; it is an oxymoron, there is no such thing as multiculturalism. One may have a sub-culture, which is a part of a grander uni-culture, but no multiculturalism, which is in reality a competition of tribes.
To illustrate the point I will go further. The word ‘empower’, a favourite word of feminist theorists, amounts to anything that a feminist wishes it to be. Who is ‘empowered’ and in what form? Whose power is to be diminished? The who, what, where, when and why are never mentioned or answered nor intended to be. The columnist Andrew bolt recently scratched the surface of this enigma in demanding to know; how much the world’s temperature will fall thanks to Julia Gillard’s global warming policies and by how much will it cost? Tim Flannery, Julia Gillard, politicians and the rest of the climate change church could not provide a clear answer; only two numbers were required of them. It would be so very absurd if it weren’t so very deliberate and, as far as the media is concerned, so effective. Let me elaborate, when one purchases an item, the two most important details are, how much will the item cost? And how effective is it? The public is being asked to purchase/ provide taxes for a product/policy. This is called a con and it has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with language and its sales pitch. It’s sermonising and definitely not the technical language of problem solving or economising, as it should be.
So we have a Carbon Tax that isn’t definitively about carbon, but is functionally, in effect, a far-reaching, unregulated tax, which will be more than likely arbitrated by a faceless over-reaching bureaucracy, with former-labour consultant hangers on. It would have to be one of the greatest tricks the Left ever pulled, followed by the general untruth of a positivist humanist linear history.
Conservatives must recognise these words for the post-modern sophist shell games that they are. There is a sound reason why studying old philosophers and political theorists can be so rewarding. It is because their language, their words, are unsullied by post-modernist meaning, or shall I say lack of meaning. Also specifically these dubious linguistic techniques were developed by philosophers a long time ago.
On a more general level allowing the long march of the left through universities was a major defeat in more ways than generally thought. Ever read a social studies or humanities course literature? The same post modernist jargon pervades the entire structure of thought. The progressives are effectively teaching young people how to play the old sophist game, except the sophists in ancient Greece knew that it was a symposium party trick to win more wine and drachmas. Young people today of course don’t know any better. This is part of the argument of Allan Bloom’s magnum opus The Closing of the American Mind. When the ALP, bleats that the public aren’t listening or that they need to get back on message, and sell the message better, this is exactly the sophist shell game. The NSW ALP in particular, has exploited the public’s naivety and attention span for the last 20 years. Of course it required the state to become a banana republic for the public to realise that the language was hollow and disingenuously sentimental, hence the effectiveness of the sophist shell game.