n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

sloppy language

"war" via dictionary.com:
(1) a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; (2) a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations; (3) a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns; (4) active hostility or contention; conflict; contest: a war of words; (5) aggressive business conflict, as through severe price cutting in the same industry or any other means of undermining competitors.
I must admit: I am utterly sick of War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terrorism, and Class Warfare.

Frankly, I don't count any and all conflict—disagreements, hostility, problems, horrible problems, diseases, addictions, distress, difficulties, active business scuppers, anything with two points of view—as actual war. Wouldn’t it just be more precise to refine the term “war” to the spilling of blood by more than one? I think all the balderdash that surrounds the rhetoric of war necessitates such a refinement in order to promote an exactness of language, a precision in place of a generalization. In a world where “war” is an event with bloodshed, we might instead talk about conflict as conflict, as business infights as business infights, as contests as contests, as addiction as addiction, and struggle as struggle, rather than overly simplifying a language capable of complexity, and thus oversimplifying complex issues.

"War" involves death and murder. War includes bullets and missiles and propaganda and spies and tanks and machine guns and submarines and battleships and jet planes and helicopters with guns mounted on their gunnels. It looks like bombs exploding and people dying and soldiers pushing forward in the dark of night and trenches and caves and clandestine meetings and intelligence reports and guts spewed and torture and imprisonment and Geneva Conventions and genocide and hatred.

War is a tired metaphor within rhetoric, just as metaphors are a tired trope within politics.

What does "class warfare" mean, really? Does it mean bullets and missiles and propaganda and spies and tanks and machine guns and submarines and battleships and jet planes and helicopters with guns mounted on their gunnels? Does it mean bombs exploding and people dying and soldiers pushing forward in the dark of night and trenches and caves and clandestine meetings and intelligence reports and guts spewed and torture and imprisonment and Geneva Conventions and genocide and hatred?

Maybe. But probably not. Yet, if it's so, who is winning the class war? If this is our definition, where are the casualties, who is suffering?

I'm pretty sure I could examine the stats inside and out and find that the wealthy are not the losers on any front of the so-called 'class war'. The wealthy are not the dying, the suffering, the bloody-gutted. And even if they were taxed 50% more than they are, which is not the argument, I'm pretty sure there would be no casualties or intestinal bleeding or dead babies flooding their banks.

By statistics alone, if this were war, the casualties would be entirely on the side of the poor. The lazy minions of capitalism. The do-nots. The fuck-offs. Those without the wherewithal to invest and sharehold. The educators and waitresses, the librarians and farm-workers. The immigrant field-workers, day by day plucking at the strawberry bushes in an effort to relieve them of their excess. The medical workers, sending in their insurance claims for perusal. The factory workers, just hoping for a break between outsourcing and retirement, where they could be called back to work because they are more desirable due to their pension funds being fully paid for, thus no longer a liability. The factory workers, who don't have a job because China is cheaper. Because Chile is cheaper. Because the protection agencies here are more concerned about the future than they are in other countries participating in "equal trade." Because we don't look to see where anything is bought anymore (Just try to buy a child's toy that hasn't been made in China. If you find luck with that, try for a toy Made in America). The transit operators who face de-funding because anything other than concrete and nonrenewable is communist or at best, unfair to gasoline freedom. The small businesses who bare the brunt, especially if they are ethical. The in-between. The grabbing-at-any-work. The innovative who have found no home for their innovation.

I have zero sympathy for the whole "class warfare" debate that argues that the upper class should have access to Bush tax cuts, to corporate personhood, to what I perceive as perpetual exemption from citizenship. And if merely suggesting that the wealthy pay a bit more is “warfare,” then I’m going to start calling my students terrorists when they tell me they missed class due to a death in the family. Because… why not?!! Let’s casually redeploy all language! “Using the telephone” can now be called “consorting with the enemy” and “using the bathroom” might become “poisoning the wells”! I like it! Everyone on guard!

Seriously though… "class warfare" is a joke term, a metaphor that is hyperbolically ironic. There is no war, only conflict. Difference. Difference of perception about what it means to be a part of a society. So be the difference, but don't portray the difference as war. If it were war, I would take my sword and slice off your... big. fucking. dick.

Yeah. So let's not see it as war.

I felt this rant coming on after reading the November 5th-11th issue of The Economist, a journal I respect. I tend to see it as being centrist on the right side of affairs, but genuinely journalistic, factual, interesting, and excellent. But after reading "America’s Missing Middle," and then having an argument with CF about it, I’m still feeling a little pissed at this magazine that CR seems to swallow whole. I don't see the article as being ironic in its use of "Comrade" as an nomer for Obama (15); rather I think the author actually believes that if Obama merely suggests that taxes will have to be raised on those who can afford it, just as programs are cut across the board, that he is suddenly “leftish” enough to be jabbingly compared to a Soviet communist. (And here I was, thinking the cold war was over!) I likewise don't think this article is joshing about Obama "dabbling in class war," about his ‘pivot’ to the left, and “promising his supporters that the budget can be solved by taxing ‘millionaires and billionaires’.” Sorry, guys, I must have missed all that!

I agree with the article that the center is missing in Senate and Congress, but I think these guys are failing to note how Obama's failures (and successes, for that matter) are in large part due to his desire to inhabit centrist politics in an America that rejects centrist politics. Frankly, I voted for Obama not because he was the same as me politically. I am way to the left of him. I voted for him because he was centrist and I hoped he might have a chance in our crazy America. And yes, I do feel that he has been a great big wimp with a pathetic set of old-school stupid cowardly cabinet member nuts/ovaries. Yes, yes, yes. But he is still a centrist old fool, and I am still a leftist. And I still want him to bridge the parties. I still want him to give the the old try, but maybe with a little more cajones, please. However, if he has failed to do this, it is not because he’s Leftist! It’s because he sits in the center and pisses everyone off, tries to gently pull both parties together, when they aren’t even remotely in the gentle mode. He needs to be a bit more of a bully, but I hardly think he can be more centrist.

And for the record: yes, he did suggest taxing the weathly more, but he also suggested this in tandem with cuts to the budget expenditures. And sure, you good folks at The Economist have solidly been pushing “closing the loopholes” in place of raising the tax rates, and surely America is willing to listen to such reasonable solutions, but don’t try forcing your point of view and ideas on me by mocking my own ideas with sloppy metaphorical language such as “class warfare.”

And please, don't even pretend that our mild mannered president is "Comrade" Obama, you A-holes.

I have yet to participate in the Occupy! marches, although I support their actions. But I have not marched because I’m tired of marching… I think we’re going to have to be a little more clever, like leaving banks for credit unions and sending more innovative people to D.C. But maybe I will march… maybe all it will take are a few more bullshit stories about the center actually being the left, and the left being a bunch of implausible comrades.


On a completely unrelated note, did you hear about the first-grade teacher who is being prosecuted for saying on FB that she is "warden for future criminals." What teacher hasn't, at some point, been driven by exasperation to say something like this? What... we aren't allowed to vent any longer in America?
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