Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pejoratives

Words do not usually hurt me. When someone in grade school called me a "bastard" it never made an impression on me. When I saw someone rage at being called a bastard, I wondered if there was not some special sensitivity there--perhaps the kid's parentage was in doubt.

I have some Native American ancestors. Even though my personal experiences are far removed from my ancestors' I feel a kinship. The word "Injun" does not bother me, though, even when people might apply it disparagingly to my downtrodden ancestors.

My immediate ancestors were called "white trash." I often refer to my personal habits as part of a white trash heritage--to the shock and horror of those who say, "Human beings should not be referred to as trash!"

As Space Ghost once said, "Yeah, whatever."

Words that were once merely descriptive, such as "bastard," "idiot," and "moron," were destined to become pejoratives, leaving us to find more sanitary descriptives. "Poor countries" became "the third world," then "developing countries." The new descriptives become outre, and the process continues.

Now "socialism" is coming to be seen as pejorative. My view of the word is that socialism describes an economic system under which the individual works for the good of society. Capitalism describes an economic system under which individuals are free to work for the good of whomever they wish--mostly themselves.

Socialism has a bunch of branches and I glaze over when a socialist thinker finely parses the thicket. I have satisfied myself with understanding these three: communism (we own everything and we tell you how to serve society), facism (we don't own everything but we tell you how to serve society), and the soft socialism of Europe and America (we don't own everything but we tell you how to serve society and we take your income and use it for society).

I am not a fan of socialism. I am a fan of freedom. Under socialism, if you disagree on how society is best served or if you do not want to serve society, you will be coerced by force or by the threat of force to serve--if there is no threat, then the socialist system devolves to capitalism, in which people serve whatever they want to.

Since "socialism" is now pejorative, what will we call people that we formerly called "socialists?" Perhaps we will find an term like Warmfuzzies, which will last for a few decades until people recognize that term for the slur that it is.

2 comments:

Kaa said...

Have you heard George Carlin's most excellent rant on how we soften the impact that words are SUPPOSED to have by trying to make them more politically correct? His best example was "shell shock." It became "battle fatigue" then "operational exhaustion" and finally "post traumatic stress disorder."

John Arkwright said...

I had not heard the Carlin rant. I could not find a video of it. I like Carlin's focus on words. He may have been the first deconstructionist. The food chain Shock>Fatigue>exhaustion>stress is quite good.