Frank Maguire
Logomachy: watch your language
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By Frank Maguire
January 20, 2012

"One of the simplest rhetorical truths is that the side that defines the vocabulary of a debate wins the debate." Selwyn Duke, "If Republicans want to win, they must rebrand 'capitalism.'" RenewAmerica.com, January 19, 2012

There is no ideology more absurd and inevitably destructive than Progressivism, with its catechism of secular historical-inevitability. To comprehend the noemic (Noema: obscure speech that yields meaning only upon detailed reflection.) rhetoric of utopian Progressivism is not as labrynthine as it seems. It's simple when you have the key: repetitious redefinition. Defile the conventional understanding of words commonly employed in religious-social-political context, and, simply, redefine them, repetitiously, for the purposes of propaganda. In the War of the Words!

How does the rational mind deal with cynical utterances such as "It all depends upon what 'is' is." Such protean artfulness is a device known even to children.

Confucious wrote "If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." Analects, 6th c. B.C. But to easily confute the wise Confucious is child's play for today's linguistic anarchists. They simply respond, "What is truth?" "What is success?"

Other renowned thinkers have written about linguistic/rhetorical deception. Walter Savage Landor wrote "Next in criminality to him who violates the laws of the country is he who violates the language."

Orwell added, "The great enemy of clear thinking is insincerity. Where there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns instinctively to...exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting-out ink."

Thurber, the astute humorist, put it that "Ours is a precarious language, as every writer knows, in which the merest shadow-line often separates affirmation from negation, sense from nonsense, and one sex from the other."

Shadowy language allows the Progressives to "progress." Take, for example, the terse parallelism conceived by the Obamaites: "Change" equals "Progress."

Politics is the breeding-ground for the agile cuttlefish. "The politician is an acrobat." wrote Maurice Barré. "He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does."

The great lampooner Ambrose Bierce, in his The Devil's Dictionary, provides this: "Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."

Perhaps it was Sir Winston Churchill who best predicated the prophetic, Progressive politician. "Political skill is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year — and to have the ability, afterwards, to explain why it didn't happen."

Referring back to the fundamental Marxist prophecy of "historical inevitability" is a wise, noemical exercise in dealing with "Change...Progress." It is an exercise in Irony. Does Change ever produce inevitable Progress — progress meaning, as Marx meant it, inevitable human improvement, and advancement toward utopia?

The only historical inevitability is perfectly described by philosopher George Santayana. "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve, and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

"In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted; it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience
."

The destiny of Progressivism is truly inevitable. It is a destiny of lost liberty and retrogression to despotism and tyranny.

© Frank Maguire

 

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Frank Maguire

(Frank Maguire passed away on May 19, 2021. His obituary can be read here.

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.

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