The Language of Public Life
November 11, 2016
‘Will you won’t you, will you won’t you Won’t you join the dance?’ The problem is not limited to language; language and how it is used in Public Life in our daily business expresses all that is unhealthy, not to say corrupt, about our Public Life. Today more than ever the assumed ‘new politics’ of the post-modern age is floundering in a quagmire of its own making. And this, its helplessness, in the face of events and issues, is displayed everywhere across Public Life in the words and attempts at ‘presentation’ made by our leaders.
Let us take the recent example of Nigel Farage; him being the apologist for Donald Trump, whose own use of words seems to be tapped into the repressed aggressions of much of the American electorate, and whose only tactic is to come out like a Chicago mobster all guns blazing.
The latest farce in the Trump campaign being the taped video of his casual and low remarks on women; which Farage, his British Bulldog, has attempted to cover over like a multitude of sins and with a skimpy piece of loincloth; so that the full import and significance of Trump and his attitudes to the best of Farage’s ability is blunted.
First let me make clear that it is on record that Farage is in the pay of Trump and his camp. Farage is paid by them so that he will in return give such services as support Trump’s bid to become the first tragi-comic President of the United States. Farage then in this instance is a hired glozer-over of bad publicity and a supporter and generator of good publicity for Trump; for which Farage is receiving no small beans in payment.
Like other similar marriages it is one made in Hell. ‘Where the corpse lies; there will the vultures hover over it’. Farage has commented with what are probably his own authentic views on Trump’s confessed misdemeanours with women in his Public position of trust. Farage has said that it is ‘what men do’ to talk about women in this way amongst themselves in private. Whether Farage means also that it is ‘what men do’ that they under their guise of office and its due regard take opportunity to be personally gratified upon the women they meet during official activities - I would not be surprised.
Farage added that men of power are men of large sexual appetite; and that women are attracted to power. He added that women in private with other women also talk in this casual and venial way about men. The whole of the problems posed by Trump and his remarks on video were being approached by Farage from two strategic directions.
- The attempt was to defuse the remarks and to diffuse the damage done to Trump by their publication, by Farage playing the ‘that’s how it is and it’s normal’ card.
- The attempt was to boost Trump’s standing by use of the salacious episode on video by making it appear the thoughts and words of a man of some calibre and of note to women. As Milton’s Satan says: ‘Evil be thou my good.’
Notwithstanding the authenticity of these views probably being Farage’s own; and offered by him to ameliorate the remarks of Trump, and so turn them round into a positive light; there is nonetheless a level of imposture and of dramatic performance in the positions taken up by Farage.
Firstly , that he is receiving payment in order to make such ameliorations and to make smart sophisms whereby the weaker argument aims to defeat the stronger; means that his words are ‘bought’ words; and are words ‘in the pay’ of’ Trump and his camp. It is the very nature then of this employment Farage is engaged in, his job description, for him to aim at these objectives of amelioration of and promotion of Trump and of Trump’s escapades. And this is the fact regardless of the authenticity to Farage of the views Farage expresses in Trump’s behalf. They are bought views and as such are tarnished as far as them being considered to be objective views.
They are tarnished because they are not volunteered views; they are not disinterested views, they are not views unretainered nor unsolicited. They are cash for support views. The cash element brings into play a factor of values; values which are appointed in the gospel saying: ‘Where your treasure is; there will your heart be also’. In short, when a person feels it is compatible and proper for that person to ‘sell’ their views ‘for money’ even when those views are authentic to that person;, by the fact of those views being put into the service of a ‘buyer’, it becomes that those views are tied by that money transaction to a contingent business function; which fact itself has bearing on the value, truth, usefulness and veracity of such views as presented within such a context.
Gary Lineker and his family may well eat Walker’s crisps at home and regularly; but has this nothing to do with the fact that he advertises them and in all likelihood is provided with them by their manufacturers without charge or cost? And it is beside the fact that he and his family may enjoy eating them.
So there is the money problem and the ethical problems arising out of selling of views and opinions; which are sold to support particular business enterprises; including political enterprises.
You have the same thing happening again with the Australian Campaign Manager for the Conservatives in the UK; one Linton Crosby, who sells his skills in persuasion and manipulation of public electorates so as to obtain victories for UK governments. Nothing is thought to be wrong with this arrangement of affairs. It is accepted and acceptable to us here; as in many places in the world. Just like the Sophists and Rhetoricians of ancient times who did a great amount to sow the seeds which grew the dragon’s teeth which devoured their ancient civilisations; so too are our ‘paid performers’ and ‘public deceivers’ in the fields of politics and commercial consumerism. They are sowing the seeds of our own civilisations’ demise and ruin.
The same erosion and corruption and corrosions of value are taking place right now just as they took effect and took their toll back in history in Rome and Hellas. That increasing inability to discern straightforward truth from devious and deviant falsehoods is happening right here and now also. The supplanting of standards of behaviour by the money-value factor, whereby professional sportsmen change loyalties as often as they change jerseys; a loyalty not to the club or team but to the pay check of the club or team; and whereby opinions and ‘education’ and ‘guidance’ and general steering of persons cavalierly for one’s own ends and purposes and like cattle can be bought and sold in the marketplace, and without let or hindrance of law or tradition or of good manners – as mere accepted best practice.
The whole idea of Rhetoric and of Sophism and of manipulators like Farage and Crosby, is to subvert accepted customs and beliefs and without regard for their truth value or their good efficacies; but instead only with regard to a (usually monied) contingency with a transient objective of a day. Thus by means of a barrage of funded persuasions and currency-coloured arrangements of evidences are subverted in the first place present states of affairs, then next arises doubts about other and former states of affairs; then soon after that, any faith in the minds of persons for a possibility of authenticity and of veracity per se, the sorry ‘everything is opinion, and what is truth?’ syndrome’ kicks-in; and the end result, where we are close to now, is for a dereliction of all value and a free for all denominated ‘liberty’ which is nothing more than ‘crowds of people going round in a ring’; a circus ring.
Thus we are surrounded by and governed by performers, by those who adopt a role, and who are happy to adopt any and all roles so as to get their ways with their peoples; to be pipers to the musicians; climbers to the sportspersons; actors to the theatre persons. Not however in the way St Paul wanted to be ‘all things to all men’ with his overriding and essential object of ‘preaching Christ; and Him crucified’. There is in our endeavours to proclaim our words no overriding, universal, and very valuable and signally salutary object; nothing other than that derisory and venal one of making money and/or of obtaining power. This power and this money are personal and are gratifications to the individual, or to the company or to the party by whom they are obtained; their scope and ends are severely delimited and pertain not to men and women and to the absolute welfare of men and women, as The Word of Christ by the hand of St Paul aims at; but at a craven and scurrilous money profit or at a surreptitious accession to public office.
The drama was born out of religious observance in Greece long ago. This is a historical truth which no serious historian contests. Cynics (as we are all proud to be known to be these days) will say that religion has its own agendas and its own scarlet histories; and indeed so it has: but Christ is not religion, and religion is not Christ. Religion is what we fallible and corrupt humans have made of Christ.
Our loss of an ability to see and so to carry through rational arguments and to stay with them to their outcomes, and not to branch off here and there willy-nilly as the taste pleases one; this too is a product of our decline in standards; in education; in self-restraint; in public debate; in earnestness for the truth, and for its own sake.
Thus today we are hearing coming from the top of the political and economic arenas in several anciently-established continental and once-esteemed civilizations, Europe and the USA, arguments and words openly expressed which have not been heard or expressed in such terms at such levels since the 1930s and 1940, and in Germany, in Italy, and in Spain.
Items of comment close to being eugenic; and also others bordering upon advocating segregation of and hierarchies for races and peoples; arguments validating political assassinations; and a massive host of casual ‘off the cuff’ remarks made in public and going unnoted in the media as being pernicious and out of order. This weekend there was what appears to have been a physical scuffle at a political party rally and this same party is bidding presently for an establishment stake in UK government. Such things, when they happened in Britain’s former colonial parliaments and establishments raised derisory and superior laughter from our snobs and Little Englanders. Now they happen here and go virtually unremarked as being watershed moments in British political manners and history.
Like the Israelites in the Book of Numbers, and going against the word of God likewise, our government elected recently to number immigrants working at British firms; so as to ‘name and shame’ those firms. How bad is that for a good policy idea?
We here in UK want the drains unblocked when they clog and we want the potatoes and fruits picked and in the shops; we want the streets swept and the garbage removed cleanly and regularly; but we do not want to shake the hands of any person who performs these services in our behalves. Such ‘direct’ contact with the necessary but unsavoury sides of life has become below us in our self-estimations; although the truth is that it has become above us in God’s true estimation.
Our debates these days pick out several crude and loaded crucial words to hammer again and again into the ears of a people deprived of an education by our schools; a people taught little of worth at school because schools also have lost their way in this general dissolution of any settled and worthy standards of value. Thus it is that hearers of these crucial crude buzzwords so repeatedly dinned, are those who have little equipment to be able to sort and to sift them for what abysmally they are.
Was not President Obama elected on one word? ‘Change’. He just kept repeating the word at any opportunity available. Was not the Brexit vote won in the UK by a few oft-repeated buzzwords ‘sovereignty’ ‘Brussels’; ‘immigration’; ‘Regain control; and so on? Was the level of debate remarked by all commentators as even by them considered ‘Lowest Common Denominator’ stuff; and stuff that was being promulgated by means of ‘Single Rotten Apple’ fictions?
As a society, we are talking ourselves over an abyss; we are manipulating our peoples into nets and snares which will snaggle up the whole means of production, of government; and also will destroy the social fabric unless Providentially some appointment with Truth intervenes to our recovery.
‘And who has believed our report?’