Editor’s note: Today, we're sharing part two of what's proven to be one of Casey Research founder Doug Casey's most popular essays in recent years. (Make sure to read part one right here if you missed it.)
Below, to wrap up our holiday series, Doug continues his discussion on the misuse of words…and why it's adding to the corruption of civilization itself…
Fair. That’s a great word. But everybody’s got a different idea of fair. Put a bunch of money on the table, and let’s divide it up. Well, what’s fair? I don’t know. But I guarantee everybody will have a different idea of what’s “fair.” So, let’s forget about the idea of fair, because nobody knows what that is. It’s a floating abstraction. I have a better idea.
Whatever happened to justice? What is “just”? It means everybody gets what they deserve. Now, perhaps you can solve the problem. It’s a bit more specific, more focused, to find out what you deserve as opposed to what’s fair. Because, frankly, some people don’t deserve anything. Simply existing doesn’t necessarily give you a right to a piece of the pie—or even a right to vote on it. But nobody talks about justice today; they talk about fairness. And, of course, this corrupts the moral character of society.
What about freedom of speech? You can forget about freedom of speech. One reason is because nobody knows what words mean anymore. You need words in order to speak. But if you don’t define and use words accurately, they mean nothing. Forget about all the non-PC words you’re not even allowed to think, much less use. Freedom of speech is a phrase now divorced from reality. It’s actually no longer very important, except, oddly enough, among the political classes, where it’s become very important in exactly the wrong way. Because freedom of speech, today, often means hate speech.
I’m not an antagonistic person, and I like most other people, if they’re of good character. Here’s a shocker for you: I don’t see anything wrong with hate speech. Why? Because there are a lot of things in the world worth hating, because they’re evil and destructive.
But, if you want to live in a civilized environment, you shouldn’t conflate so-called hate speech with bad taste. Most so-called hate speech is simply bad taste or stupidity. Outlawing hate speech is far worse than anything that can possibly be said.
One good thing about hate speech is that it lets you discover something about the person speaking. If he can’t speak, you may not really know who you’re actually dealing with. Which can be dangerous.
Well, of course, now that we have “hate speech,” that draws attention to “aggressive speech.” That’s another newly coined phrase. Be aware of neologisms, newly minted words that the average chimpanzee uses as if they’d been around since the day of Aristotle. One of them is microaggression. This one is really popular with so-called minorities at universities today. It can occur when somebody says something that—by really parsing it in the manner of a Talmudic scholar—might make a person feel uncomfortable. As a result, these weenies are demanding segregated “safe spaces.”
It’s not just completely ridiculous. It’s actually psychotic.
You should laugh off the concepts of microaggressions and safe spaces, revel in free speech, and recognize the difference between hate speech and bad taste speech.
“And that’s a genuine fact.” Does anybody say that anymore? Another change in the language over the last generation is that nobody says fact anymore. Facts are now factoids. “Here’s a factoid.” Do you know what a factoid is? It’s an artificial fact, or something that looks like a fact but isn’t. What, for instance, is an asteroid? An asteroid is something that looks like a star but isn’t. What’s an android? An android is something that looks like a human but isn’t. That’s what the ending -oid means—something that resembles the object in question. So, a factoid is really a phony, made-up fact, a created fact.
I never say “factoid” unless I mean something that somebody’s made up. It’s a BS fact. What they really mean to say, to be cute, is factette. A little fact. A trivial fact. But people now use factoid. They don’t even think about what the word means. But that’s true of so many words today…
Like United States. Everybody likes the United States. Well, I’m not sure I do, because they so often conflate the United States with the U.S. government. Talking heads will say, “The U.S. did this. The U.S. should do that.” Wait a minute. Do they mean the nation-state that lies in between Canada and Mexico, or do they mean the U.S. government? They’re almost always talking about the U.S. government. So, they’re conflating the U.S. itself, a conglomeration of 300 million people, with the U.S. government.
They’re two different things. The U.S. government has a life of its own. And it only really cares about the U.S. the way a flea cares about a dog. A flea needs the dog; it wants the dog to survive. But not because it cares about the dog itself. The prime directive of every living being, whether it’s an amoeba or a corporation or a government, is SURVIVE. That’s the prime directive; it comes before anything else. The U.S. government is an entity that has a life of its own. Its prime directive is looking out for number one. So, don’t conflate the U.S. and the U.S. government. If you mean the government, say it. If you mean the country, say, “…the U.S., and I don’t mean the U.S. government.” Unfortunately, it’s now necessary to be extremely clear. Otherwise, people will assume what they will…
But it’s worse than that, because people now conflate the U.S. with America. They’re totally different things. America is a unique concept, and it was an excellent concept. Its values—what it stood for, at least in theory—were actually unique in the world’s history. But people conflate that with the U.S., which is now really just another one of the 200 nation-states that cover the face of the Earth like a skin disease. I’m all for the idea of America. It’s unique, it’s good, it’s wonderful. But the U.S. is just another nation-state, like Burundi, Burma, or Ecuador—there’s less and less practical difference. Be especially careful when you conflate the U.S. and America.
Another good thing that people always confuse, conflate, and define improperly today is health care. “We need the state to pay for health care.” “I want to buy some health insurance.” No, you don’t. And, no, you can’t. What they mean to say is medical care. Health care is something you do for yourself. It’s diet, it’s exercise, it’s prudent habits. Those things increase your odds of having health. They’re how you maintain your health. Your insurance policy, whether it’s Obamacare or something else, can’t maintain your health. It only insures some costs of your medical care.
Recall the beginning of the movie Dances with Wolves, when they show the surgeon cutting off people’s limbs on a battlefield. That’s medical care, in effect, emergency damage control. It’s important and necessary, but medical care can’t maintain your health. That’s something you do. But people love to use the words health care; it sounds so wholesome.
The political classes never say “medical care”; they always say “health care,” because everybody wants to be healthy, but people are scared by medical care. It means anesthesia, doctors cutting into you, and dread diseases. That’s why health insurance is so easy to sell to the average chimpanzee. It’s because he thinks to himself, “Yeah, health insurance. Sure, I want to insure that my health stays good.” He doesn’t want to think about medical care; that’s a scary scientific thing. So, please don’t say “health insurance” when you really mean “medical insurance.”
I just mentioned the movie Dances with Wolves. That was partly about the so-called American Civil War. Well, no, it wasn’t a civil war, and you shouldn’t call it “the Civil War.” A civil war occurs when two or more groups use military violence in trying to take over the same government to control a designated area. That’s not what the so-called U.S. Civil War was about. It was actually a war of secession, where the Southern states were simply trying to secede. A war of secession is totally different from a civil war.
The Spanish Civil War was a real civil war. There, the fascists and the communists were both trying to take control of the same real estate. What we had in the U.S. was not a civil war; it was a war of secession. So, call it the War Between the States. Some call it the War of Northern Aggression.
Here’s another one: concentration camps. Who can tell me when concentration camps started, and who started them? No one?
Most people would say, “Oh, it was those damn Nazis in World War II.” No, it wasn’t. It was the Brits, the wonderful Brits, our perpetual allies, in the Boer War in South Africa. The Afrikaners call it the British War for Gold. The British created the first concentration camps in modern history, incarcerating and intentionally starving scores of thousands of mostly women and children. But that’s kind of forgotten, since the victors always write the history. Or “herstory,” which, believe it or not, some “gender equality” types prefer to say. They believe everything should be politicized whenever possible.
When I was in college, people used to joke, “We’ll never have concentration camps in the U.S.; we’ll call them something else.” And, by God, it was a joke in those days—but today, it’s actually true. We now call them detention facilities.
Talking about war and concentration camps, do you all remember that until 1946, the U.S. government used to have something called the War Department? That’s what it was called. The U.S., technically speaking, didn’t go to war unless Congress declared war. But since World War II, it’s had nothing but undeclared wars. From Korea and Vietnam, which were pretty big wars, to all these little, but very expensive, sport wars we get into now.
We don’t have a War Department anymore. That would be too honest. It’s called the Defense Department, but it doesn’t defend the U.S. Actually, it draws in trouble and danger to the U.S. They should call it the Opposite of Defense Department, because it’s actually the biggest single existential danger to the U.S. Entirely apart from the fact that, fiscally, it’s going to bankrupt the U.S.
A generation from now—assuming they don’t start World War III, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seventh Fleet rotting at the dock like an Argentine destroyer, or like the Soviet Navy 20 years ago. But in the meantime, don’t call it the Defense Department. It doesn’t defend anything.
You may be thinking, “This guy doesn’t sound like a patriot.” Patriot. That’s a loaded word. “I’m a patriot, you’re a nationalist, he’s a jingoist.” I’m not sure I know the difference. Why is everybody supposed to be a patriot of the country that they’re born in? I don’t care if you come from Rwanda; you’re supposed to be a patriot. It’s a ridiculous concept. My country is the best one in the world, because I was born there. It’s an accident of birth.
If you were born just five feet north of the Canadian border, now you’ve got to be a Canadian patriot.
At what point does a patriot turn into a nationalist? And at what point does a nationalist turn into a jingoist? Patriot is a word to use very carefully. Be very, very careful of people that use it promiscuously, because they usually don’t know what it means, nor what its implications are. And they’re often warmongers.
It’s similar to the axiom “I’m a freedom fighter, you’re a rebel, he’s a terrorist.” It’s mostly a point-of-view thing. But don’t dare broach the subject to a patriot. God forbid a nationalist or a jingoist should hear it.
It’s funny how they call these ISIS people in the Middle East—horrible people, quite frankly—they call them terrorists. Well, I don’t know. They’ve established their own nation-state in exactly the way most nation-states are established. You know, by killing the people that were there before, taking over the government, and killing people that fight against them. They’re nasty. I don’t like them; I’d be one of the first people they’d put up against the wall. But that’s how most states get started. They’re just as legitimate as any other nation-state out there today.
People say, “Well, they shouldn’t dismember Syria.” Well, Syria is not a real country. It’s a dozen different tribes that mostly hate each other. Iraq is not a real country, either. It’s at least three separate, distinct countries. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India—none of these is a real country, either. None of those countries in the stans is a real country. What do I mean by that? They have no real ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural, or linguistic homogeneity. None of the countries in Africa is a real country, either. It’s crazy to consider them countries. A real country is homogeneous. There are very few—places like Denmark and Finland—unless they’re overwhelmed with migrants. Most “countries” are actually domestic empires.
Non-interventionism. There’s nothing wrong with non-interventionism. It’s a highly benign concept, but nobody says that. If you don’t want to stick your nose into somebody else’s business and kill the natives, then you’re called an isolationist. “These are the good natives; those are the bad natives.” I can’t tell the difference, and I promise you, the morons in Washington can’t, either. Conflating the pejorative word isolationist with the benign non-interventionist typifies the intellectual dishonesty that’s accepted—and rarely challenged—today.
Actually, what have I been talking about this whole speech? I’ve been talking about stupidity. So, why don’t we define the word stupidity? It’s usually taken to mean a low IQ. But that’s not a very helpful definition. It’s rather circular.
More accurately, stupidity is the ability to see the immediate and direct consequences of an action, but an inability to see the indirect and delayed consequences. That’s a much more useful definition of stupidity. But I’ll give you an even better one. It’s an unwitting tendency toward self-destruction. And so, when I use the word stupidity in reference to the misuse of words and the conflation of concepts, it’s appropriate. These things are not trivial factors in the degradation of Western Civilization.
And we’ve only scratched the surface of the problem in the last few minutes.
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