Mini-Feature: Reclaiming Language

Like talking to a brick wall

Can conservatives reclaim language?

Language in the west is increasingly a tool of power for a vapid and increasingly anti-human oligarchy. Conservatives cannot reclaim language, since they do not have the power to determine it. Such power derives from control of the mediums of communication and the political and cultural institutions that shape language. Such power derives from the actual elites (in politics and culture alike) who inhabit, guide, and use these institutions in a way that influences human thought and communication, neither of which can ultimately be severed from each other.

In a free or semi-free society, educational institutions are of particular importance to language. But Grammar, once a part of the trivium (along with Logic and Rhetoric), is all but forgotten in the deepest, philosophical sense. It is now all but forgotten. Marshall McLuhan's dissertation, The Classical Trivium, a sort of Grammar focused history of the same, is worth considering in this respect. 

I will write more about all this next week but for now, consider this:

Grammar [properly understood as a liberal art] is the cradle of all philosophy...It nurses us in our infancy, and guides our every forward step in philosophy. With motherly care, it fosters and protects the philosopher from the start to the finish [of his pursuits] introduces wisdom both through ears and eyes by its facilitation of verbal intercourse. Words admitted into our ears knock on and arouse our understanding...One who is ignorant of it [grammar] cannot philosophize any easier than one who lacks sight and hearing from birth can become an eminent philosopher.

Book One, Chapter 13 of The Metalogicon: A Twelfth Century Defense of the Verbal and Logical Arts of The Trivium, written by John of Salisbury in 1159. 
-Matt Peterson

Slowly—less slowly now—people are realizing that language has an almost ultimate power. Control language and you control thought. But many think language power is the ultimate power—because they don’t really believe or refuse to recognize that the ultimate power comes from those with authority, which can’t be reduced to power. And what we have now is a great struggle over whose language has not merely power but authority.

Conservatives, even if they didn’t think so consciously about it, have been accustomed to speaking with authority—and speaking the authoritative language, ultimately, the languages of the prophets, the apostles, and the philosophers. Conservatives are now dismayed, sometimes despairing, to see that this language has lost so much authority among so many people that it has to be “reclaimed.” This is not by any stretch an easy process. Usually, historically, it happens as a result of either war or a great awakening.

But this time it would happen within a fundamentally new language context, that of the psychological and social environment formed by the communications medium of digital technology. This is important because we are now immersed in a new language with a new articulation of authority—code. Code is a digital language that claims authority via its mastery of memory, a much different claim than the regnant left language of the emancipated spirit which can only arise through the perfection and purification of the imagination. Left utopianism depends on the authority of the human imagination. The digital medium challenges this at its very root.

This is why the leaders of the left now seeks above all to impose the power of its expert imaginers over all digital machines—over all code. This is why the left is being mobilized, and people demobilized, in a way that poses a historically and sociologically unique threat to our American regime and way of life. Of course, digital tech itself poses some fundamental challenges to some of our long-standing habits and mores. But code does not pose an existential threat to America or Americans, unless too many of us decide that the only way to stop the anti-digital left from ruling us is to beat them with the bots and allow the machines to rule us instead.

The allure of this dangerously digital path can’t be underestimated. For conservatives who want to reclaim language, the objective is a dual one: reassert successfully the authority of human memory over both the experts of imagination and the mechanical masters of digital memory.

-James Poulos

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We can reclaim whatever the devil we please, no?  

But there are, alas, some complications. In order to reclaim, it helps to have a sufficient understanding of what has been lost or ceded. Are intellectual conservatives (you weirdos know who you are) so sure of why a stable, common language tied to reality is important for a healthy polity? 

If they can, then they might be able to retrieve why this position on language is worth defending, and they might do it without shame. Even the French—the French—have the Académie Française. Surely, we can muster a more spirited, effective campaign against the idiotic slide into a world of meaninglessness.  

While Conservative Inc. figures this all out (hahahaha), I encourage private citizens to study Plato’s Euthydemus, a dialogue that illuminates the above concerns.  

Until next time 

I remain 

They Bahr, Latinx She-God, Of the Everlasting Argle Bargle, in the Year of Our Womyn 2**2**

-David Bahr

Yes, but it’s going to take some doing. Remember first and foremost that language is a community endeavor, which means that conservatives who seek to make headway in this realm—a crucial realm, without victory in which we are doomed to silence or worse—must team up. Everything I say from hereon out applies not only to you, but to the friends you must seek and gather around you. 

Then remember that Aristotle teaches virtue is the mean between two extremes. But one reason why our neo-Marxist ideologues were so wise to focus their efforts on gaining control over our linguistic mores, is that now plain statement of fact seems like itself an extreme.  

Relative to the thoroughly deranged fantasia that has been imposed upon our dictionaries and our public square, it’s extremely blunt and uncouth to say that men ought to be courageous, for example. But courage is exactly what it will take to resist the hemming and hawing in which woke speech codes are designed to entrap us while our self-appointed betters make the most absurd claims without qualification or fear of consequence. 

Simply put: in the realm of language today the two extremes are timidity—the mincing of words which thought policing inspires among people with a sane but forbidden view of the world—and boorishness—the confrontational rudeness with which counterculture figures like Donald Trump break through the imposed silence of political correctness. It has taken a bit of boorishness to hammer a crack in the wall of unsayables that had been erected between us and the truth. Perhaps the most commendable people right now are those who will say whatever gets a rise out of the scolds.  

But between that extreme and the other one, which is cowardice, lies the truth. Speak it plainly as you see it, and though you will be called extreme, you will in fact be seeking the one virtue without which all others are worthless: honesty. Seek, the scripture says, and you shall find. Have no fear, seek the truth, and you will find the words.  

-Spencer Klavan