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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The dumbing down of society

Much has been said of late about the driving down of education, the lack of education in the English language, the inability of many to express themselves adequately in more than a few letters at a time, or even the move to press printing over script when writing. A few words of note from Propaganda and the Media (Earnest Partridge Ph.D):

Language and the social order
A well-ordered and well-integrated society rests upon a foundation of shared meanings – a language with a rich vocabulary, capable of expressing novelties, relatively constant, but at the same time evolving through ordinary use, rather than political manipulation. Put simply, language functions best as a conservative institution.
However, as Orwell so clearly pointed out, political propaganda is destructive of this “conservative” function of language. Heedless of the cost in social disorder, right wing propaganda deliberately and willfully distorts language to serve the purposes of the party, of the faction, of the sponsor. This is no secret. In his GOPAC memo of 1994, Newt Gingrich candidly identified language as “a key mechanism of control.”
Propagandistic manipulation and distortion of political discourse is subversive of democratic government whether or not it is successful. If the “Newspeak” of the controlling party is uncritically accepted by the public, it becomes an instrument of control by that government. If it is rejected, the institutions of government and the rule of law are likewise rejected, and anarchy ensues.
Furthermore, a degraded political language can cause havoc in the society as it undermines clarity of ordinary discourse and with it the capacity of ordinary citizens to communicate. to trust each other, and thus participate in and sustain a democratic government. Civil society then dissolves as individuals retreat into themselves and are reduced from citizens to self-seeking consumers, and society is reduced to a mere marketplace – if that.
It is thus the urgent duty of the opposing party, civic organistions an educational institutions to restore to political discourse the clarity and order of a natural language – what Confucius called a “recitfication of names” – which is pre-requisite for open, intelligent and productive political debate.

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