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October 14, 2017

Thread before the Gardening Thread: Veil of confusion [KT]

veilnew_res51.jpg

Or Veil of Ignorance?

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

I ran across a really short piece by Theodore Dalrymple on how the vague terms that populate our political discourse "encourage lazy and often deeply biased thinking".

I think he's being generous there.

He discusses terms as currently used in the European press, including poverty, liberalism and austerity. I can think of counterparts in the U.S. press. And some "vague words" that have similar meanings in the press on both sides of the Big Pond. I was the most surprised at what he said about current European use of the work "liberalism".

Liberalism (or neo-liberalism, or ultra-liberalism) in the French and British press means laissez-faire economics. Its connotation is that of a dog-eat-dog society in which--to change metaphorical horses midstream--the devil takes the hindmost. In the French press, Britain is an ultra-liberal society, and all Britain's manifold shortcomings are due to letting markets rule the society that, as Margaret Thatcher is supposed to have believed, does not really exist anyway. The word "liberalism" is used over and over again, despite the facts that more than 90 percent of British education and health care is state organized, that the nation's housing market is highly regulated, and that there are many other markets into which entry is made difficult or practically impossible by government regulation.

Again, the misnomer leaves untouched the question of how much regulation is desirable (and what ends are themselves desirable is a matter of contention); but it is as accurate to call Britain a liberal polity as to call North Korea a libertarian one. . .

The discussion of the word "austerity" is a kick, too. It ends with:


All terminology is flawed, no doubt, but some terms are more flawed than others--and some amount to full-blown and highly motivated lies.

His piece on Saudi women gaining permission to drive is also interesting.

I happened to be near the Saudi border, in a small country in the Gulf, when the historic announcement was made that women would henceforth be issued drivers' licenses in Saudi Arabia. The friends with whom I had been staying, and who had themselves worked in Saudi Arabia, at first assumed that the announcement was a joke, or some kind of destabilizing provocation by foreign intelligence agencies.

Big changes coming in Saudi Arabia. And some changes coming in India as well. Drivers will be going home. No more remittances.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press now says it is forbidden to say whether someone was born a boy or a girl.

Will Saudi Arabia adapt?

Hope you have a great weekend, with some clear conversation.


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posted by Open Blogger at 11:12 AM

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