Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Doublespeak Lives

Doublespeak does lives.  It is vibrant and alive.  It permeates every conceivable level of society.  Much is spoken about the prosperity of our society.  This is voiced against a backdrop of cities where thousands roam the asphalt and concrete landscape homeless and desperate and the hungry queue up at food banks for the basic commodities.  Prosperity is alluded to with a deep and abiding reverence.  The condominium and estate dwellers carry this notion with them like an all-embracing mantra.  Yet, they are but a small minority, while the overwhelming majority struggle to either survive or maintain a level of economic well-being that is ever at the brink of bankruptcy and destitution. 

The spokesman for superiority of this society refer to a nation with the greatest health care system in the world, while fifty million individuals lack basic health insurance a realtiy that translates into the fact that they are denied adequate access to health care of any kind.  This reality is dutifully ignored though it is a very substantial fact.  These numbers are simply subtracted from consideration or concern.  Those whose health is exquisitely cared for are the affluent, exactly the ones who vociferously applaud the quality of the system as it exists.  The rest stand to lose any financial stability they may enjoy if they should get seriously ill.  For them the health care system is fine, if they remain healthy.  Getting ill is another matter entirely.  And yet, we hold up this marvelously inequitable system as a model for the entire world to emulate.

We are a people that love our children so well and so completely that one-quarter of all children in the country live in poverty.  We claim to care for the well-being of our future generations, yet we ignore their plight, provide them with little if any relief from their misery and yet condone their free access to and use of all manner of deadly firearms.   When those adolescents who happen to be disturbed (which is not terribly unusual for that stage of life) and use weapons that are so readily available, the society shows its concern about the welfare of children, by demanding retribution and, would, if allowed, place ten year olds on death row.   No connection is made between the level of deadly violence in the society and the accessibility of firearms.  Children who are raised deprived of those basic amenities we speak so highly about, and who live lives of desperation are, of course, expected to behave both wisely and well.  If they, however, behave badly, then the wrath of society falls heavily upon them.  The nation takes no responsibility for these outcomes.  This is not merely hypocrisy, for hypocrisy is a disguise and obfuscation of truth.  It is, in fact, a purposeful distortion of reality.  Doublespeak is far more insidious for it proudly proclaims harmony when all around there is imbalance.

Racism is an area where Doublespeak truly shines.  In a country that only one hundred and fifty years ago condoned the outright ownership of other human beings and total exploitation of their labor, and only forty years ago denied black people equal access to restaurants, restrooms, housing, employment, and every conceivable basic amenity, today speaks of itself as color blind.  This is the very same culture that condoned the lynching of black men for the innocuous act of merely looking at white women.  Somehow, we have magically cured ourselves of this barbarism.  Yet strangely enough, most of the menial labor in the society, most of the unskilled menial jobs are performed by people of color.  An inordinate proportion of the population of prisons is represented by black males.  The inner cities are segregated and the schools and social services that serve minorities are abysmal.  In spite of these obvious realities, affirmative action is ridiculed and blacks are expected to compete on an equal basis with the more privileged sectors of white society.  It is a pretend game of such staggering proportions as to be almost comic, if the ramifications were not so horrific. 

The War on Drugs continues.  There is apparently no end to the police, weapons and prison resources available to interdict the flow of drugs and punish users, mostly represented by the poor.  This strategy is carried out in spite of the obvious awareness that the problem lies with demand.  These drugs essentially serve as an escape mechanism for those who live in conditions that are deplorable and seemingly hopeless.  Yet the beat goes on.

Doublespeak lives.  The media are intimately involved in the "art" of Doublespeak.  They are its champions, admirers and ultimate practitioners.  They report and emphasize sensational stories as so-called newsworthy events being sure to exaggerate their emotional content without making any reference to their context or historical perspective.  They play the devious game of political distraction with consummate skill.  The media, essentially owned and controlled by corporate conglomerates, for the most part parrot the views and interests of the powerful, for, that is the group, after all, that controls the direction and actions of the society at large.  It is no surprise that this group would benefit immensely from molding the views and aspirations of the general population.

Doublespeak lives on in the area of armaments.  It is quite interesting that the United States - the nation that holds the greatest nuclear arsenal and the only sovereignty that unleashed nuclear weapons on human beings - is the same country that always appears so appalled and outraged when less powerful states move to arm themselves in the same way.  This nation also happens to be the greatest arms seller in the community of nations.  For that reason, it profits materially from the violent conflicts that erupt in much of the impoverished world.  It is the distinct quality of Doublespeak that remarkable contradictions between pronouncements and reality are never acknowledged and vociferously denied when referred to.  It is the hallmark of Doublespeak that poverty becomes prosperity, empty becomes full and night becomes day. 

The greatest masters of Doublespeak and all its exquisite nuances are not so much the politicians as the foreign policy experts, for they can make ignorance seem like enlightenment, can make a tyrant seem like a prince of democracy and most importantly make evil seem somehow magically good.  There are many splendid examples of this.  The State of Israel that has forces of occupation throughout its neighboring region and rules the "territories" by shear brute force and state terror calls itself a democracy and is even referred to as a democracy by other nations.  Of course the question may come to mind, "Democracy for whom?"  The Palestinian refugees whose squalid camps are surrounded by armed troops certainly do not live under a democratic umbrella. 

Israel is a nation that uses the same tactics that apartheid South Africa once used to deny the basic civil rights and freedoms of the majority black population by herding them into so-called "homelands."  This is a nation that blows up and demolishes homes of Arabs to make way for Jewish settlers and shoots young boys who have the audacity to throw rocks at the forces of occupation that constantly harass and contain them.  This is a nation that uses fascist methods to maintain so-called order.  Ironically, the Israelis emulate the strategies and policies of those whose demonic behavior they insist the world must never forget.  Yet, somehow, miraculously Israel is a democracy to be admired and celebrated.  Doublespeak lives.

There are many past examples of leaders of nations who have received lavish praise for their industry and labors in spite of their actual behavior towards the populations that were subjected to their rule.  The Shah of Iran, Batista of Cuba, Samoza of Nicaragua, The French in Indochina, Suharto of Indonesia, Marcos of the Philippines are the names of just a few.   These were the agents who served both themselves and Western Capitalists exceedingly well at the expense of their own people.  Nonetheless, they were to be praised for their leadership and statecraft.  Their evil propensities were forged into good works and farsighted and enlightened policies. 

Part of the masterful agenda of Doublespeak is the creation of an almost continual need for enemies.  As both a distraction from societal ills and as a means of finding a cohesive focus for the entire culture, an enemy or enemies of the State seem to be required.  If they do not truly exist, which is often the case, they can be readily fabricated thanks in large measure to the genius of the media.  Whenever the true economic interests of the powerful corporate interests are threatened or the rise of a popular movement questions the supremacy of the capitalist philosophy, it is then that enemies are called upon .   The propaganda machinery of government together with their cohorts in the media focus their attention on molding public opinion in the direction of that newest enemy or enemies of the State.  The newest term in the formidable vocabulary of Doublespeak is the so-called "Terrorist State."  At such times, the overweening priorities of national interest is invoked, although it is rather inconceivable to imagine how a third world power can pose a significant threat against the world's only superpower.  Doublespeak lives.

Since Doublespeak calls upon and relies upon the immense resources of the State, it is an essential tool for the implementation of the agenda of the powerful.  It is only through education and organized resistance that this practice can be exposed, undermined and defeated.  Doublespeak lives because the people feed upon it.  Doublespeak thrives on ignorance and apathy.  Doublespeak lives because the truth is not demanded.  Sick is not well, empty is not full, evil is not goodness.

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