Friday, 12 September 2014

Scum lies on shallow waters

To my mind, one of the most striking aspects of the internet is the way it so often brings out the raw power of colloquial language. Many areas of public debate are much shallower than elites and pundits would have us believe.

Social, political, economic – many important aspects of apparently complex subjects are easily described in pithy colloquial language – even crude language.

Most politicians are lying scum.

No, I don’t mean this kind of simplistic yet curiously accurate language. Although it has been enlightening to discover quite how accurate it is. Too many politicians are lying scum aren’t they?

No, I’m thinking of colloquial language in general. How easy it is to use ordinary language to tease out a valid and useful aspect of almost any complex social or political issue. In other words, there is not as much depth to these matters as we may have supposed or as we may have been told in the past. Nobody needs a doctorate in political history in order to say something worthwhile about politics.

We common folk may not have imbibed heaps of academic data about political language and the classification of political trends, but it is surprising how often a simple colloquial summary is good enough.

Politicians always brown-nosing vested interests.

Oops – still somewhat basic, but I think the point begins to emerge well enough. One could write a treatise on political pressures given enough patience and nothing better to do. No doubt somebody has or is doing or will do in the future, but it’s easier and possibly more constructive to keep it simple and colloquial.

To the horror of many and the puzzlement of many more, institutions such as the BBC, the monarchy, established churches, major charities and numerous others are not nearly as trustworthy as we once supposed. Not nearly as truthful, adaptable or transparent either. Even their supposed expertise is tarnished as the world becomes less deferential, more inclined to explore alternative points of view.

There is less depth to many areas of debate than the pundits and experts would have us believe. Yes there may be complexities and yes there may be mountains of data, but many orthodoxies are essentially shallow and easily discredited by even the most limited investigation. And perhaps some sharply descriptive colloquial language.

Something is crumbling, something essentially false, ugly and repressive. The shallowness of social distinctions, the elusive and misleading nature of genuine expertise in the more complex and intractable areas of human life, our tendency to allow determined dullards to place themselves on pedestals. The absurdity of it all.

Perhaps the resources of language and mass communication are killing off something we need to kill off. Yet perhaps the resources of power and mass communication will ensure its survival via censorship and the mighty power of money to confuse and misdirect. As yet we cannot tell but...

Most politicians are lying scum.


Woodsy42 said...

A good pithy precis is often better than a lecture.

James Higham said...

That point about the destruction of trust - that's the big one in this era. And when we reach the point we can't even trust our currency because the government is shaky [soon perhaps after the referendum], then we're in trouble.

As for language, what a minefield.

Demetrius said...

The Church kept to Latin to avoid the risks of using ordinary language in its business. Now that ordinary language is so debased and twisted perhaps we should go back to Latin. Sed libera nos a malo.

A K Haart said...

Woodsy - I agree. A lecture can be inspirational if done well, but too many are too long.

James - yet trustworthy leaders and institutions are what we all want.

Demetrius - if we go back to honesty it will baffle quite a few.