The Loss of Soul: Corrupting Language and Stealing Common Understanding

John Henry*

Today our newspaper editorialized that the “fight’ over “right-to-work” legislation “should just go away” (seriously, that’s the headline).  Here’s their primary argument:

The so-called “right-to-work” issue has already disrupted the Indiana General Assembly. The Republicans’ insistence on making it their top legislative priority has been met by Democrats failing to show up for work again in an effort to slow down the GOP majority.

The Dems behavior is bad, but predictable. They and their constituents are that passionate against right to work. The Republicans know it, and thus knowingly touched off this political standoff.

They will say it’s because they believe as strongly in the benefits of right to work. But here’s reality: There is no definitive evidence that right-to-work laws do what their supporters say. And there’s no definitive evidence it doesn’t.

First, the truth is that it can’t just go away–it’s the final battle for the soul of America.  This will determine the fate of the commoner in this country.

Of course there is plenty of evidence to show the resultant effects of creating a substratum of low-wage, unprotected employment.  But how should we even understand these issues when presented as fodder for rhetorical manipulations?

The first clue that the deck is stacked is that there is only one data point be considered: “job creation.”

“Job creation” masks the real motivation to destroy worker protections  and yet it resonates with the population: this seems to be the natural response to the desperate straits many find themselves in due to our economic collapse.  But this collapse, it should always be repeated, was brought on by deregulation, predatory lending, and speculation–all activities bolstered by the very voices currently pushing these anti-collective bargaining laws.

We have been impoverished and this is an ideal time for the predator class to treat wage labor in Indiana exactly like they’ve been treating wage labor in Mexico and India and China. In other words, like the shit on their boot heels.

Simply look at the loudest voices clamoring for this legislation; look at their history of “policy” manipulation; look at the quality of life that we’re left with. All these are available to us. There are indeed FACTS that detail the way quality of life is decreased in states that have erased worker protections.

Do spend some time on this research review from the Economic Policy Institute from back in 2001 when Oklahoma was considering these same measures. The piece notes that at the time Oklahoma only had an unemployment rate of 3%. What then could have been the driving factor to “create low wage jobs”?

This editorial speaks to the HT’s absolute bankruptcy as an intelligent voice in the community. It says NOTHING but the way it says nothing speaks volumes.

It opens with its opinion, undeclared but apparent in its phraseology: It’s afraid to say the legislation is wrong, that the GOP legislature is wrong, but is unafraid to denigrate Democrats (this is the way the illiberal press pretends to ward off charges of liberalism)–as failing to go to work. The truth is, the tactic in play is the ONLY WAY Democrats can act to serve their constituency and perhaps the moral compasses.

“Fact checking” statements are meaningless of course as neither qualified the effects of the quality of life of diminished worker protection–simply parsed statistics regarding unemployment. These stats themselves are always changing depending on the formula used.

Here’s an article on the “Texas Miracle” which was basically described as a “job creation” miracle (Texas has outlawed worker protections in the main) as if these GOP policies had anything to do with it–disregarding the fact that nearly all of these jobs were low wage jobs taken by a massive influx of immigrant labor. What kinds of jobs are these? You can imagine, but you don’t need to. Take a look for yourself.

Job creation is complex in some regards and the editorial finally speaks some truth to this point. There are many factors to consider when assessing opportunities to expand employment.  A further truth is that eliminating worker protections will exacerbate our current demise to the benefit of the very few and very predatory.

This is very much a lock-step agenda with the intense and determined efforts to take over our public education system. The agenda favors the owners and manipulators of markets for profit and does not seek to make the world a better place for anyone but those owners.

I would further argue that even using the phrase “right-to-work” is intentionally manipulative and cynical. That this too is an underhanded and dishonest manipulation of thought. Further exacerbating this is the reduction of this to an acronym “RTW”–this has its own heartless, soulless logic. A parallel can be drawn to the use of acronyms in the “humanitarian” community. Adam Branch offers this:

I believe that both of these acronyms are ideological, instead of analytic, let alone critical, concepts, and I believe that this can lead them to have negative political consequences when they are deployed to understand situations and inform interventions.

We see acronymisation constantly at work in the field of transnational administration and intervention – whether in R2P, IDP, NGO, etc. I believe that what acronymisation does, by replacing the actual words, words with their own meanings and histories, ambivalences and contradictions and conflicts, with a fetishistic acronym, is that all those multiple histories, meanings, contradictions, and struggles that are contained in words such as ‘responsibility’ or ‘displaced’ or ‘organisation’ or ‘justice’ are erased. Instead, we have a reified category whose history and meaning is entirely under the control of those who have invented it, who use it, who then create journals about it – witness the inception of journals dedicated to transitional justice, internal displacement, and R2P (Responsibility to Protect), all in the last few years!

The consequence is that we start to take that acronym for uncontested reality, forgetting the words that make it up. This sets the stage for a technicisation, whereby the ambiguity and uncertainty of the words going into the acronym are forgotten and it is given a transparent, positive meaning. This allows such acronyms to preside over the development of technical regimes of thought and action, totally divorced from, but deriving a legitimacy from, the words that go into them, even if those words are forgotten – witness the frequency with which R2P is called the Right to Protection or the Right to Protect!

It’s well past time we stood against the easy acceptance of a worldview that has only resulted in constant human and animal and ecological damage over the last 120 years. These “local” small battles are representative of this worldview and should be confronted as onerous and hatefully devious manipulations for the benefit of a minority.

More from the Errant on this topic:
Counter-Balancing Propaganda–Does It Matter?

“Right-to-Work” Legislation: Same Shit, Different Century

*Photo by jpmueller99

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