Little Red Blogger

This blog looks at radical politics(with a libertarian socialist slant), music and culture. Marx to Mises, Girls Aloud to Steve Reich...

Location: Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Political language and the perversion of meaning

While reading The Guardian I was struck by how politicians and their media flacks use and abuse the English language. Although this has been analysed before I want to look at two words that have been abused and perverted for political gain.

From a UK perspective the word that has been most abused by 'New' Labour is 'modernisation'. 'New' Labour has used this word in a cunning underhand fashion throughout its political life. To 'New' Labour modern automatically equates with good and that which is not conservative.

But what do 'New' Labour actually mean when they say that X goverment department should 'modernise'? Essentially it boils down to the idea that department X should be more responsive to 'consumers' and parody market based mechanisms to do so via the importing of private sector managers and their techniques.

Of course this is usually glossed with a patina of managementspeak bollocks a la Birt's reign of management consultancy terror at the BBC...So via this incoherent mish mash 'New' Labour defines itself and its opponents.

The genius of this approach is that to be 'modern' implies progress...and what self respecting leftie wants to stand in the way of 'progress', for this would make you *shock horror* a conservative! in 'New' Labour's eyes. It gives 'New' Labour a very useful rhetorical stick to beat it's opponents on both sides of the political spectrum. By redefining and narrowing the use of the word 'modern' while keeping it's original conotations 'New' Labour brilliantly controls the political discourse for it's own ends.