by Mike Meyer
One of the biggest changes in major paradigm shifts are in the meanings of words. Meanings change because how people see their world is changing and that means the world becomes a different place. Language changes to better explain that world that continues changing in a feedback process.
It doesn’t take much to understand that the world in the late summer of 2019 is a very different place than it was in, for instance, 2016. Think about it a minute and the extent of the difference becomes almost too much to handle. Completely unexpected things such as BREXIT and the election in the US of someone like Donald Trump to any position of authority were staggering and nearly incomprehensible in 2016.
Now we comprehend these things with increasing clarity and they are even worse than we thought. The majority of the population is very worried but has identified the errors and failures that have come out of those stunning events back in 2016. It’s not clear that we can correct these things but the implications of failing to do that are becoming clear.
But beyond the large ugly surprises, life on planet Earth has transformed itself in many ways. While a majority of our population continues as they were three years ago, the darkness is falling and the likelihood of continuing as we were is now a very real question. Even for those people who actively ignore information they don’t want to see, the steady increase in anxiety is palpable. Yet the large technology changes continue with great promise. They may well be our only salvation.
We also now know something of the reality of the climate crisis. Before it was rather vague, more frequent and stronger storms but not much else. Now we have experience with record breaking heat and the hottest months in recorded history. Greenland is melting and drought is driving thousands of Central American refugees north at the worst possible time politically.
The resurgence of pathological racism, fascist nationalism, and the active promotion of violence against groups of people are clear and immediate dangers that must be stopped. In the US the insane promotion of completely unlimited assault weapons sales as some kind of right is so sick that the inflamed sensitivities of the smallest national party membership is no longer an issue to most people. There is no right to mass murder.
But the accelerating shifts in meanings and the relationships between concepts and society are changing people’s attitudes. This is the backside of changing language and the meanings of words. But this increases the distress and confusion as it widens the gap between the old and new worlds and their respective populations.
We are seeing this very clearly now in the US’s political discussion of the Trump/Republican national disaster. There is now a national consensus on the extent of this disaster with 60%+ of the population stating that Trump is a racist. This is solidifying with the growing list of mass murders being enacted by Trump’s white supremacist followers directly linked to wildly inflammatory speeches by Trump to his core.
While a clear majority know Trump as a racist there is still a portion of those who don’t care as long as they have a job and regular income. The power of this to cause white supremacism, gross incompetence, and advocacy for mass murder to be ignored shows how unstable life has become in the richest nation on the planet.
At a different but more direct level those turning a blind eye to racist and fascist rule are facing planet wide interest rate cuts and general economic focus on impending recession triggered by US irrationality and impulsive attacks on China. The US population is very aware that the long economic period of growth achieved under neoliberal open trade rules and secured under Obama is rapidly coming to an end.
This is the environment in which paradigmatic changes in meaning are working as a meta factor for attitude changes and social realignments. These realignments have been long in coming but are bubbling to public consciousness as, even, the brain dead mass media are having to explain things very differently and more directly.
On the negative side this is revealed in the desperate moves of the neo fascists to identify everything as the opposite of what it is while attributing all bad actions to the “leftists” and or “liberals”. This is also seen in the majority moderate progressive with the most traditional still identifying the problem as “conservatives” and “the far right”.
We need to unpack the previous paragraph through layers of willful confusion, change, and history. This includes rapidly evolving meanings for most of those traditional words.
What has been called “rightists” or “far right” in the US ceased being conservatives many years ago in the traditional meaning of that term. They do not respect the past or tradition but have become an authoritarian reaction against democracy, diversity, and civil rights.
Those identified as “conservative” have always been the group most inclined to authoritarian rule and oppression of diverse elements of society. What has evolved from this combination is a policy free political party advocating racism, ethnocentrism, misogyny, and various forms of bigotry funded by corporatists and billionaires. At the bottom is a minority of ordinary people alienated by major, accelerating social change and who are lost in the emerging quantum mechanical universe. They are alienated, biologically prone to anxiety, fear and are frightened of change.
The people at the bottom of this accept rule by billionaires because they have been told that is the way it has always been and was dictated so by metaphysical forces. What the billionaires are doing for their own wealth is irrelevant to the base. By their nature they will hold on to traditionalist positions and traditional meanings of things. In many ways these people are still living in a medieval European world. Many of them missed the scientific revolution and are unable to understand the errors of believing the earth is flat.
These people will be drug into the emerging universe fighting to stay in the past. That is a segment, roughly a third, of the human population. They are going to suffer and, until the bigger changes stabilize, there is not much that can be done about that. Their tendency to irrationality and authoritarianism must be controlled and prevented from blocking desperately needed changes socially, environmentally, politically,and economically.
Because this group is important in the US political system, the leadership needs them to be controlled and to vote. So language that they can understand must be used to maintain their allegiance. This is important currently but increasingly perfunctory because what is driving these people is not politics or even language changes but the disappearance of a world they understand. They will follow Trump and the Republicans no matter how contradictory or hypocritical because nothing else makes any sense to them and they refuse to learn a new world and its language.
This is the core situation that is causing increased disruption. To maintain their base the current leadership must maintain the illusion that nothing has really changed in the last fifty years and what appears to have changed is an illusion. Politically it is a continuing war between American capitalism and totalitarian communism that no longer exists. The lack of the traditional opposition means that whatever is handy must be made the enemy.
The only other language that can be used is antiquated anticommunist tropes. This is where paradigmatic change is resulting in confusion and potential chaos. The current regime falls back on equating democratic socialism with totalitarian, specifically, Stalinist communism that disappeared thirty years ago. Most people alive today don’t remember that world but that is the last time that the Republican Party in the US made sense.
To the majority of the US and world population, democratic socialism is The model of mainstream late 20th century government. Scandinavian countries, for several decades, have been the ideal for most people and what they worked to achieve in their own country. Only in the US, to an extent in Great Britain, and, ironically, in Russia this was blocked and the opportunity lost. But we are moving past that now.
As a result this use of antiquated labels against Trump’s enemies is notably ineffective outside of the minority of core followers and, even there, it works only for the oldest and most rigid. This growing failure of the old politically inflammatory words is what has driven the sudden intense and sickening lurch into full racism and ethnocentrism. It’s all that is left to Trump, Moscow Mitch, and their clique.
A far larger change in meaning is now in process tied to the loss of old political trigger words. “Right” and “Left” no longer make sense although they will continue to be used confusingly until something else emerges. These terms were originally products of the French Revolution in 1789 when the royalists and religious sat to the right of the parliamentary president and the egalitarians, democratists sat to the left. Later this became more formalized with Right, Left, and moderates in the Center.
This was the order defining traditionalists or conservatives versus progressive or change activists. As noted above, in the US, this has broken down as there are no conservatives, as such, but corporatists, fascist/nationalist revolutionaries, and racists. The only traditional “Right” group are the religionists who have nowhere else to go.
The Democratic Party in the US is much more a secular conservative group that has failed due to its inability to define itself as anything but Republican Light. This is now precisely the point of conflict and paradigmatic change.
The increase in mass murder is now commonly committed by followers of Trump who is a dictatorial racist and criminal with no policy and little knowledge of political history. He is mentally ill and wildly impulsive and so has no functioning policies except racism and personal greed. HIs mental instability makes it impossible to anticipate what he will say or do. This also, now, covers the limited goals of the Republican Party that has long used racism to hold power in order to satisfy greed while promising spoils to their low level followers.
The disruptor in this is the use of younger, white, male Americans to target everyone who is not white, native born, and citizen. This group has been fed a steady diet of propaganda tied to traditional German fascist traditions of race, blood, and soil with the focus on misogyny as a reaction to feminism eliminating oppression of women and feminine characteristics. This is the reaction of a strongly misogynistic and militaristic culture.
As noted earlier the current regime is left only with racist, misogynist, and pseudo-fascist themes to use having no other working concepts. Unfortunately the young males sought for agents live in the current world that is being devastated by the climate crisis. That has been included in their outrage and unjustified victimization. This has led to a growing version of eco-fascists with the illogical goal of racism and nationalism to save the planet.
This plays into the Trump/Republican goals of destruction of representative government by confusing eco fascists with traditional environmentalists who are concerned for everyone and all life. This is showing up internationally and was a factor in the Christchurch New Zealand mass murder and again in the last week’s el Paso killings.
Trump and his associates have tried to tie the Dayton killer to the traditional “Left” or “Liberal”, i.e progressive, majority. This has not worked primarily because, while the Dayton killer had followed far left sites there was no manifesto and no obvious motive. My point is that none of this now easily fits a traditional “Right” or “Left” pattern. Because of this no one really knows what to do with this or how to react although it is obvious most of these mass murders are directly tied to Trump as a white supremacist or loud mouth whiner fomening hatred and greed.
With Trump and others becoming more inflammatory, they will draw more lonely and twisted young men who will begin to see their loneliness as, not their fault, but something that can be solved and their hunger slaked with the blood of others. Once that path is followed the desperation that will come from climate disasters destroying their future will make many more prone to this deadly trap if it is being brutally promoted as an answer.
That promotion must be stopped and prevented because it is a lie and a death sentence for hundreds, if not thousands, that could be killed by brainwashed white supremacists triggered by Trump and others. And in the larger picture the confusion and destruction sought by Trump and his followers could mean the death of life such as ours on this planet. We do not want to do that.