Andrey (azangru) wrote,

"I want to do something that linguists don't usually do," says John McWhorter in a talk from a year and a half ago. "But political discourse is such a mess that I am going to make an exception. And that is, that I am gonna suggest that certain terms be discarded by educated or concerned people, because they make it almost impossible to have clear discourse about things that really matter ... We need to discard two words; they just have no use in terms of how we speak about life ..."

"Fascism," think I. "Say fascism. That's what I'd have discarded." *)

"Liberalism," says McWhorter. "And socialism."

What he suggests to use instead is "progressivism" — a word that's for a while been giving me a foul taste in the mouth. Not just because I have no idea what it means; not just because I find it appallingly insincere to appropriate a perfectly fine word and use its positive connotations (who doesn't like progress?) for political gain; but also because "progressivism" omits a significant qualifier — "social". Are progressives in favor of abortion? Yes. Good. Are they in favor of gender reassignment operations? Yes. Cool! Are they in favor of human cloning? Most likely not. Why the hell not, isn't human cloning an obvious progress? Who the fuck knows. Are they in favor of automation, of self-driving cars and other prospects of automating human labor away? Judging by how they tend to despise Uber, probably not. Why, isn't it progress? Because. Are they in favor of bitcoins and cryptocurrency in general? Probably not, because global warming. Aren't they arguing for slowing down the technological progress precisely because of the global warming? Some of them are. Are they for frontend javascript frameworks? No, javascript frameworks are for tech bros; whereas true progressives are for making sure that sites are accessible on an underpowered phone over a crappy network in the middle of a historically underprivileged proudly decolonializing faraway country. Why do they call themselves progressives again? Because they are cashing in on the positive associations of the word.

*) Cambridge Advanced Learner’s knows that the word cunt is used as "an offensive word for a very unpleasant or stupid person", in which it’s far ahead of Merriam-Webster, which doesn't know this basic fact of life. But none admits that fascist is a similarly functioning amorphous slur.

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