Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Political corruption and the misuse of language

Strong people do not abuse, stronger people do not even respond to abuse… Self-restraint is required - so that the discussion doesn't degenerate into mud-slinging. But ideas and narratives need to be challenged. 
We have to challenge the Muslim Narrative that all is fine, even great, with Islam and everything wrong is America's fault. We have to challenge the Hindu Narrative that the ultimate discovery has happened here and that all is great about India. And that mindset that finds nothing great or learnable in other cultures and religions. 
We have to challenge the Secularist's Narrative that both Hindu and Muslim narratives are equally pernicious. No Sir. The Islamic Narrative today is far more dangerous than any other. Not a cinch of a doubt about that. Regards, Dilip [sbicitizen] RE: History and Narratives 1:32 PM From: Dilip Kumar Roy sbicitizen 20 February 2012 diliproy@gmail.com
There is the double-speak of the secularists that seeks to feel itself superior to the rest of the hoi-polloi by finding fault with Hindutva, but stays silent on Muslim fundamentalism. Or they construct false equivalence - equating the Hindutva and Islamic fundamentalism. It is this tribe that does the most damage 8:53 PM

How “narrative” moved from literature to politics & what this means for covering candidates Poynter.org -  by Roy Peter Clark Published Feb. 20, 2012
How narrative moved beyond literary analysis - John Lanchester offers a brief take on this phenomenon in the London Review of Books:
“Back when I was at university, the only people who ever used the word ‘narrative’ were literature students with an interest in critical theory. Everyone else made do with ‘story’ and ‘plot’.  Since then, the n-word has been on a long journey towards the spotlight – especially the political spotlight. Everybody in politics now seems to talk about narratives all the time; even political spin-doctors describe their job as being ‘to craft narratives.’ We no longer have debates, we have conflicting narratives. It’s hard to know whether this represents an increase in PR sophistication and self-awareness, or a decrease in the general level of discourse.”
In 1947 it was another Brit, George Orwell, who posited a direct relationship between political corruption and the misuse of language. But Orwell’s attention was fixed on language at the level of words and phrases: the use of euphemism to veil unspeakable horrors; empty slogans meant as a substitute for critical thinking; pretentious jargon designed to lend authority to special interests. While Orwell wrote many powerful narratives – fiction and nonfiction – he showed little interest in theories of political narratives in the way Lanchester describes.
The use of narrative for political purposes was not invented in this century or even the last. It is a standard lesson of Shakespeare scholarship that the Bard’s history plays, such as the Richard and Henry plays, tilted the historical record in favor of the Tudor dynasty (the family that gave England Queen Elizabeth I), an act of political dramaturgy that provided the playwright cover and, no doubt, financial rewards.
The long journey of narrative described by Lanchester took many professional stops before it arrived so conspicuously in the barrio of spin-doctors, speech writers, and other political handlers. For decades now, narrative theory has wended its way through the worlds of medicine, law, and business management, just to name the most obvious arenas.  

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