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What does it mean to be oppressed?
So much of today’s discourse revolves around the manufacture of innumerable victim categories: person of color, refugee, mentally ill. And we have yet to mention the LGBT movement, that alphabet soup which continues to grow by the hour. Not since the Mongols have so many cried out for liberation.
But, is legitimate grievance the true motive behind these trends? One rarely sees the factory worker or migrant laborer marching in the streets for social justice or ranting against climate change at the U.N.
It is, rather, always the college-educated, professional class that feels the need to jump on whatever woke bandwagon the executives at CNN and MSNBC push. They take it up with an almost religious zeal, never missing a chance to virtue signal or condemn their neighbors for wrong-think. All the while, their gated communities and vacation homes remain untouched by the consequences of leftist activism. These are not the denizens of grinding poverty or daily discrimination.
Nonetheless, such efforts have had their effect. Our societies are quickly being subsumed by offense at every corner. Imagined or real, this is no way to build a future or to instill our youth with confidence and courage.
The flashpoint of the present crisis is inextricably linked with language. To walk onto a university campus nowadays is to submit oneself to an unyielding stream of intersectional dribble. From freshman to faculty president, the identical talking points are used to demean Western civilization and exalt progressive maxims.
Terms must be chosen carefully to avoid offense or else white, patriarchal privilege may be conjured like some witchy incantation. In practice, this includes the stringent enforcement of gender pronouns as well as the infamous promulgation of terms like ‘womyn’ and ‘latinx.’
It’s hard not to cringe at these abortions of culture.
However, there is also an astute political strategy at work here. Forcing people to use ideologically corrupted language means your opponent must subliminally accept your premises even before the argument begins. For younger minds, this is even more effective as it reinforces within them a reflexive distrust of all societal norms.
As with so much of our sociopolitical troubles, the root of the present linguistic distortions starts with Karl Marx. In a letter to Arnold Ruge, a fellow German political thinker of the time, he writes:
…we do not anticipate the world with our dogmas but instead attempt to discover the new world through the critique of the old … there can still be no doubt about the task confronting us at present: the ruthless criticism of the existing order, ruthless in that it will shrink neither from its own discoveries, nor from conflict with the powers that be.
Leftism is a hammer looking for a nail. It cannot offer a positive vision of society–only the demonic inversion of all that is.
So, what can be done to oppose the sanctimonious word vomit erupting from the mouths of the elites? I ca not hope in this brief piece to give an unassailable answer, but I can try to outline the dilemma before us.
The new standard of speech is one that is impossible to abide by, in large part because it is always changing. Being canceled for an old tweet or for not keeping up with the ADL’s next fundraising gimmick is almost inevitable. Rather, one must pursue a policy of selective offense in which the woke standard is subverted at opportune moments.
To be clear, I am not advocating for reckless, untamed use of free speech. It is foolhardy to believe that language can have no negative emotional impact or be counterproductive in the long run. But by exploding against leftist dogma at its weak points, the absurdity of its claims can be made manifest.
A recent and amusing example of this can be found in the term ‘super-straight.’ In many ways, it borrows the language of sexual orientation to undermine the unreasonable demands of gender theory; any rebuttal against the term must step out of the typical political jargon to be coherent.
The aim here is not to set up yet an alternative maze of speech codes for conservatives. Instead, we must simply aim to deconstruct the deconstructors–to cut off the indoctrination at the knees. From there a principled counterargument can then be made.
Regardless of your choice of tactics, one thing is certain: we cannot give in. There is immense social pressure to go along with whatever redefinition of words the Left concocts; that’s why it works. But, to accept the words is to accept the poison. Surrender the tongue and the mind will soon follow.