Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Politics of Meaning

Several years ago there was a movement called the Politics of Meaning. The general message was/is that the Right has co-opted the language of the Liberals and the Left. The Right has taken our language and presented it from what Jungians would call a "shadow" side, the dark side of the language of compassion twisted by fear.

The premise: the Liberals and Left have all the correct action based on compassion and common welfare, but the language is all about statistics. We put in programs that work, that are helpful and good, but have not mastered the language of kindness.

On the other hand, the Right wing and Conservatives base their language in "family values" and "Moral behavior" and twist it with fear: the fear that someone else who is NOT YOU is getting your fair share of the pie and you are going to do without. "You" have worked hard, you're a real American supporting a family (who cares if your grandparents came off a boat possibly escaping religious persecution) and THEY WHO ARE NOT YOU (Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Left-wing Pacifists who are clearly not real Patriots) are taking away what is rightfully yours. The Right Wing stokes this fear with a constant referral that anyone who doesn't agree with them is not a patriot. They quash discourse.

The result is we become frustrated, and we begin to scream. Or go to sleep. Exhausted, burnt out, worn out. We can't do that. We cannot afford to close our eyes in the hope or expectation that someone else will correct the wrongs or speak our voice.

We need to take back our language and calmly, steadfastly, take back our Nation. Restore our Constitution. Care for our sick, our poor, our workers. We need to reclaim our dignity by stopping unnecessary wars that are based on greed. Peace.


Sue Woo said...

My nephew is a Marine. Since he was little he wanted to be a "Mairne". He recently went to Iraq. It was a gut-wrenching time for my family. My poor parents are elderly and from the WWII school of support the Prezeldent during times of war. I could see the conflict on their faces. They did not deserve that. The Fearmongers did that to them.

You are so right. What a great post. Thank you.

Helen Wheels said...

Great post. Yes, I too am very tired of the twisting... the term that most pisses me off is "pro-life." I am very aware that many bloggers, including myself, have tried not to use that term - at least I am not going to in the future - because it's wrong. It's more appropos to call them "anti-choice" or hell, why don't we call it what it is: "misogynism".

The fact that a person on the right can claim they are "pro-life" is about the biggest example of cognitive dissonance one could put out there.

Oh and "family values" is a huge teeth gritter for me... I totally agree. As an atheist, I'm still dumbfounded as to how the right can claim they corner the market on "morality." Ironically, every single agnostic and atheist I know are more like Jesus in their treatment of others and their world than the Christofascists ever are.

Don't get me wrong. Many Christians and other faith's followers are tolerant and giving and make their world a better place. But not the extreme rightwing whacko ones (thus the term I thrust upon them: Christofascists). Racism, intolerance and a weird paranoia of some perceived "gay agenda" seems to be their definition of Christian behavior.

Sue Woo said...

I want to know what that gay agenda says. Does it say when we do brunch?

DivaJood said...

Sue: I think it is an obscenity that your nephew, and all the other neices and nephews, sons & daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters have been sent to Iraq. My heart goes out to your family.

Helen: I'm not an atheist, but neither am I an extremist within my religion. In my opinion, the sort of black and white thinking that earmarks fundamentalism and fascism is a form of insanity. Insanity speaks with an "authority" that sane thinking does not. Sanity asks questions, discusses, sees shades of gray. The Religious Right (where the current administration resides) scares me intensely.

And, yes, what is that gay agenda thing anyway? Is it anything like the Jewish agenda I've been accused of myself? (Which I've not really ever found either, as I don't have a Blackberry.)

Helen Wheels said...


I agree that the fascistic thinking is insane. It is cognitive dissonance at such a high degree that it's tough for me to understand.

Most people I know believe in God in some form or consider themselves Christians, and I feel fortunate that none of them care about my own non-religious stance. I honestly just never bought what they taught me in Catholic school... maybe it's because I'm way too practical. And scientific-minded. Who knows?

That being said, I really respect folks and their religions and beliefs. I cannot abide folks who don't - and the righwing whackos not only twist religion, they are intolerant of any but their own.

Again, great post. Nice discussion. And nice to meet you!

DivaJood said...

The thing about this movement is that it doesn't require that a person believe in a God of any sort, let alone a traditionally taught God in the Judeo/Christian/Islamic vein. It is based instead on the recognition that people want something on a spiritual level that cannot be quatified.

Love, friendship, a search for meaning in life, peace, tolerance, justice are all spiritual and can't be "counted" in the sense that the GNP is verifiable number. This movement is really about a return to what matters in a spiritually centered world. Spirituality is not religion.

But the Left has long avoided the language, and the Right has so co-opted and twisted the language of meaning, that it will take acts of courage to set it right (and here, I mean correct).

That's one of the things that I am loving about blogging -- a chance to connect with people who want more out of life than what we're seeing currently, courtesy of the Religious Right.