Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Nationalization" and the Semantics of Manipulation
February 28, 2009

Manipulation via semantics has a long history in politics and its well-cloaked twin, propaganda. The "nationalization" issue is a textbook example of manipulation in progress.

Knowledgeable correspondent Craig M. recently alerted me to the crass dishonesty of framing the bank cleanup/recapitalization issue with the hot-button word "nationalization" rather than the more accurate and less inflammatory word "reorganization":

This is an excellent article on the "nationalization" issue: Bank Nationalization Is Done Deal, Let's Move On: David Reilly (Bloomberg)

However, it misses a critical point in the debate over the banks. Those opposed (i.e. Geithner, Bernanke, banksters, etc.) to a RTC/FDIC reorganization of the banks have framed the discussion around the word "nationalization", which is "knee-jerk"/pejorative word in the American vocabulary with negative connotations.

If the debate was being framed honestly, the discussion would be how to best reorganize the banks instead of hiding behind the pejorative word "nationalism" as an excuse to continue the current crony-capitalism. The American taxpayers deserve better from their leaders than being manipulated by semantics as the banking system fails."

Thank you, Craig, for this timely insight. As I wrote in Collapse of Complex Systems I: Nationalization and Shadow Capitalism (February 23, 2009), the same semantic manipulation is in play with the powerful word "Capitalism," which is constantly used as an ideological cloak to "sell" blatant crony-capitalism and central-state-planned actions as "good old American capitalism."

In case we forgot, these are simulacrums of capitalism, semantic constructs designed to confuse illusion and reality, as they contain none of what defines Capitalism: free markets, transparency and capital put at risk for an uncertain return as dictated by the "invisible hand" of the market.

The classic text on semantic influence/manipulation is How to Do Things with Words by J.L. Austin. It may well be the most marketable knowledge gained by English majors (presuming current English majors are still being assigned this text.)

Here are a few classics in the "political marketing/manipulation" field:

The Hidden Persuaders by Vance packard
The Selling of the President 1968 (used hardback editions)
The Selling of the President 1968 (new paperback)

Spin Cycle: How the White House and the Media Manipulate the News (as I recall, the subtitle used to be punchier: "inside the Clinton propaganda machine")

On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency

And the book which provides a revolutionary account of the power of the Web to change the MSM/spin game by the master of Howard Dean's Internet-based campaign: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything

Shameless pitch for my own book on marketing in the Depression and leveraging the power of the web for your own business/livelihood:
Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis

Of Two Minds reader forum (hosted offsite, reader moderated)

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