Progressives, Activists, Extremists, Moderates, Partisans
Without getting into a lot of details--a good bit that I'm about to describe here stems from the "Popular Front" activities in the 1930s and the thought of underground Italian Communist radical Antonio Gramsci--I'm now going to briefly describe some key language tricks that derive from my previous discussion of "truth," which is a malleable, subjective concept that only allows card-carrying Party members to define it.
Once I've succeeded in convincing everyone that a toad is really a dog, I'm now free to re-describe the toad as a furry creature with floppy ears, a happily wagging tail, and a very agreeable disposition. We are, of course, still staring at that lumpy, tailless, floppy-earless creature whose disposition seems dour at best. But, no matter. We're increasingly seeing a dog because everyone has now agreed that this is so. Sort of a modernist version of the "Emperor's New Clothes."
Once you've allowed someone to obliterate the literal truth for you and replace it with a different concept you've agreed to accept in its stead, you've started your trip down the primrose path. You've given up your reason and are willingly allowing people to dupe you. This is not in your best interests, of course, but better this than not having any friends or having your reputation ruined overnight. The world you thought you once knew is gradually being replaced by a phony parallel universe, but if the "best minds" all agree, well, then, who are you not to go along? So you begin to accept this gradual redefinition of your universe via the stealth attack of language and meaning alteration.
Let's move on to my most recent favorite example of this: the word "progressive." Empirically speaking, this was and is the greatest scam in the lexicon of the American left. It's not a new term. It was certainly around at the very beginning of the 20th century and perhaps earlier. But what gradually happened is that this term was gradually adapted and accepted as an extraordinarily sanitized descriptor for a Marxist, Communist, or fellow traveler. Through nearly 1960, you could get in a peck of trouble if people labeled you a Communist. So even if you were, and proud of it, you had every reason to pretend you weren't. Which is where the "progressive" scam really came in handy.
"Progressive," to the average layman, is a nice word. If you're progressive, at least in the mind of John Q. Public, you're "with it," on top of the zeitgeist, totally hip and modern, and above all, fair-minded and open-minded. Who wouldn't want to be all of the above? Heck, even a giant American insurance company out of Columbus, Ohio--the one with the obnoxious cable TV commercials--is proud to call itself "Progressive."
Problem is, that's not what "progressive" really means anymore. "Progressive" has, for quite some time now, been the weasel-word for "reliably hard-left." It's a tremendously effective linguistic slight-of-hand. The average Joe, when he hears the word, thinks good things about the person so described. Yet simultaneously, lefty true believers and Party members hear "Marxist" when they hear "progressive" and are immediately reassured that a "progressive" individual is reliable. Ditto with "progressive" ideas.
When a Marxist votes for a candidate vetted as "progressive," he or she can be confident that the candidate has been wholly or mostly blessed by the leftist cognoscenti. When a non-Marxist average Joe votes for that swell-sounding "progressive," he's being, well, "progressive," as opposed to that Neanderthal thug the Republicans are running. That same average Joe, however, would be horrified if he found out that his "progressive" candidate was actually going to raise his taxes and ration his health insurance. However, he's unlikely to find this out until it's too late. Oh, sure, the Republican candidate has been telling him precisely this, but he hasn't been listening since the Republican is a Neanderthal thug who doesn't need to be listened to.
The "Progressive" language scam is, for me, the chief among many abuses of the language. Lots of perfectly good words have been tortured into dual-track meanings, with the "code" meaning one thing to hardcore leftists, and the generally accepted usage meaning something often entirely different to the uninitiated.
Fellow travelers of "progressive" include numerous word-pairs in the political lexicon.
Here's a few:
Activist vs. extremist. A left-wing agitator is merely an "activist," a wimpy obfuscation papering over the fact that a lot of "activists" would shoot you for disagreeing with them, if, in fact, they had guns. An individual described as an "activist" is ALWAYS on the left. If you're an "activist" on the right, you're not an activist. You are an "extremist," which, unlike the antiseptic, a-descriptive non-word "activist," implies that you're a very unreliable, violent-minded person who's gone off the deep end. Only conservatives can be extremists.
Moderate vs. partisan. If you're in favor of a leftist program or ideal, you're a "moderate," even if you happen to be a Republican. If you disagree with a leftist (usually Democrat) program or ideal, you're being "partisan." Therefore, as you can see, it's not possible for a Conservative or average Republican to be a moderate. He or she is, de facto, "partisan." Period. A delightful variation on this is the term "nonpartisan," as in "nonpartisan legislation" or "nonpartisan panel."
Like "progressive," "nonpartisan" means one thing to the cognoscenti and another to the great unwashed. To the latter, "nonpartisan" means that, "even the people we don't like agree with us on this so it must be really okay." However, to the leftist cognoscenti, it's implicitly agreed that anything "partisan" must have been originated or supported by Conservative Republicans. To simplify in current political terms: If you wholly swallow a law or program on the left, you're "nonpartisan."
PS: In this topsy-turvy terminological world, you need to remember one more thing. There are no leftists, socialists, Marxists, etc., or even liberals for that matter. In the end, their are only "moderates" (people who agree with the left), and "Conservative extremists." (More on this key issue in a future post.)
Let's do one more:
Militants vs. terrorists. Everyone, even on the left, actually understands that the people I currently prefer to call "Islamofascists"--the ones who want to obliterate the West and veil and enslave all women--are indeed terrorists, individuals who intend to impose their world violently upon ours. Indeed, the hard left probably admires them for this, as that could describe the left's own preferred political program for conquest.
But alas, to call a terrorist a terrorist is not in keeping with the Marxist tack of obfuscation. The left, in some way, feels that these terrorists are actually good guys, since they, like the left, want to overthrow Western society. So calling them what they are, "terrorists," might cause them to lose a great deal of sympathy. So instead, the left, and their minions in the press, call these mass-murderers "militants." This term implies that there's a certain justice in their activities where, in fact, there is none at all. But "militant" does supply a lot of cover for the terrorists, and the left is happy to do this. Like the terrorists, the left prefers to perform their dastardly deeds under cover. So if you're a journalist, you don't dare refer to a terrorist as a terrorist. He's merely a "militant," crazed by the unfairness of the West, and, of course, the evil Zionists of Israel.
As an all-too-obvious postscript, it has long baffled me that some of the greatest promoters of this "militant" terminology are Jewish intellectuals. In point of fact, they'd all be the first to be slaughtered if the "militants" ever achieved their goal of world denomination. But, yoked to a left-wing, Marxist ideology, these intellectuals blindly follow party "truth" even though doing so could very well lead to a real Final Solution. It would seem to me, at least, that the choice here is between maintaining Party discipline and committing suicide. In this case, suicide is apparently the preferred choice. It's something I will never understand.