0093 Do Words Have Meanings
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Do Words Have Meanings?
by Ben Stone
Do words have meanings?
That may seem like a silly question, but it’s critical that we ask ourselves this question from time to time.
If I were to say, “I want to kill a dog.” would you think me a monster or would you assume I was hungry and wished to consume a frankfurter in a bun with some mustard?
The more important the conversation the more important clarity is in expressing a concept. Consider the phrase, “I killed last night.” When a comedian speaks these words we understand he’s indicating he performed his act successfully and made his audience laugh. But hearing these words under different circumstances can be life changing. These are examples of using slang, but typically slang is used in the context of conversations where the meaning is understood so no deception is involved and generally no harm is done.
It’s a different thing altogether when we are not speaking slang, but people have two different meanings for the same word. Sometimes this is done intentionally such as when a politician or one of their puppets in the media use a word or a phrase that disguises an act of government so that it appears as something it is not. So for example, when a politician says they are “slashing government spending” when they are actually increasing spending as a slower rate than planned, it’s a lie. When puppets in the media report it as a spending cut, its incompetence. But when the general public believes the lie and they take action based on their faith in that lie, they are not only victims of the evil they are facilitators of that evil.
The State has many ways of lying, of which one of the easiest to spot is the example above. But the most destructive and, from the State’s point of view, the most useful method of lying takes far more time and effort but is foundational to the existence of the State. That is the generational shift in the meaning of words that the State finds harmful or dangerous to its purposes of domination. I talked about this in my article “How to Destroy the Meaning of a Word” and gave a couple examples of how the State systematically twisted the meaning of words and then used them to further enslave people. In this article I hope to show a slight variation of the same trick that the State regularly pulls on people by shifting the meaning of words to weaken opposition to the State while reinforcing dependence on the State.
Let’s start with a comparison of two words: libertarian and socialist.
In 1980, when I was a young man, the word libertarian was not a threat to the State. Very few people would openly refer to themselves as such and the few that did could be labeled as “crack-pots” and “gold-bugs” as they always seemed to be harping on silly things like the Federal Reserve, the gold window, fiat money, and traffic lights. Almost no one took libertarians seriously and the few people that did seemed more interested in marijuana laws than actual liberty. When libertarians talked about a free market the average person’s eyes glazed and their mind wandered. After all, most people back then thought the market was free and any discussion to the contrary seemed like quackery.
The numbing effects of the Left/Right game-playing dominated politics for the next 25 years until the internet began allowing people to see the lies of the governments more vividly than ever before and people began doubting the official story lines being fed to them by the main stream media. Once the US was embroiled in undefined and unwinnable wars and the economy was in the middle of a massive collapse, suddenly the crack-pots who called themselves libertarians seemed the only ones who saw it all coming and not only knew the reasons for the mess, but had the solutions that clearly made sense when examined.
Wave after wave of former conservatives flooded into the ranks of the libertarians and very quickly the State adapted to face this now-very-real threat. Libertarianism had built within it a flaw and the State didn’t hesitate to exploit that flaw. You see, there’s a natural division within the libertarians that, when we were few, was a slight annoyance. This division placed people like Rothbard and Mises on one side and people like Rand and Hayek on the other. Today this division can be seen in the difference between The Mises Institute and patrons of Lew Rockwell Dot Com as opposed to the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine. Now granted, this is a squabble inside the family and both sides have far more in common with each other than any other group, so whenever possible we always sought a way to accept the other side and work together. But the State sees the crack and is willing to do anything to open it wider or use it to fade some of the brightness out of the fabric of the movement.
As all those new libertarians flooded into our ranks many of them were burdened by conservative baggage still hidden in the closets of their mind. The excitement of having new people and the desire to get the message out caused libertarians to relax the standard of how we defined the word libertarianism. People like Neil Boortz and Bob Barr swarmed into our midst without even bothering to drop off their Right Wing warhammer or their CIA credentials at the door. In the spirit of unity that had kept us together since we abandoned the two parties in 1968, we opened our arms and welcomed the Republican refugees without bothering to screen out the opportunists who were simply here to loot and weaken the movement despite wise warnings given by such respected leaders of the movement as Justin Raimondo back in 2003. Somehow under the new definition of libertarianism just pointing out what is and what is not a free market gets us scolded by our peers for being divisive.
Lacking the ability to clearly define the word libertarian without upsetting our new friends left us largely unable to show those new friends the beauties of a consistent libertarian philosophy. By the election of 2010 and with the Tea Party becoming a de facto wing of the Republican machine, many of us could see the direction this whole mess was headed.
The word socialist has been a problem for the State right from the start. It’s a word that’s simple to define and easy to understand. Therefore it’s poison to the State if the masses ever stop and think about the topic. So right away the State began confusing the discussion. By the 1930’s most socialists were still honest enough to call themselves socialists, but many had taken on such titles as ‘progressive’ or wrapped themselves in phrases like ‘new deal’. By the 1950’s very few Americans admitted to being a socialist even though strictly speaking the government of the US had been a fascist/socialist regime since at least 1913 when the money supply (a primary means of production) was placed in the hands of the Federal Reserve.
So here we are today.
The government of the United States of America is a fascist/socialist government ran under the guise of a two party system where both of those two parties are entirely fascist/socialist. The only coherent opposition to socialism in America or elsewhere is the libertarian philosophy and we libertarians have failed to defend the structure of that philosophy. But you and I can change that today. When we see or hear someone calling themselves libertarian while supporting socialism we can help them see the errors of their ways. Discuss the issue in a calm polite manner, or if you feel more inclined, point them to a web site or suggest a book that can help clarify the topic.
These words have meanings. Stand by them, share them, and never back down from them!
Socialism – The economic system in which the means of production are either state owned and centrally planned or commonly owned and centrally planned; or a political philosophy advocating such a system.
Libertarianism – The economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and all market exchanges are voluntary and based on natural rights principles: or a political philosophy advocating such a system.