News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Language Empire and Media Lies

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Language Empire and Media Lies

Don Cupitt has made a career of espousing a religious message that often shocks the pious with its anti-christ vibrado. The heart of Cupitt's assault, following much of recent philosophy, is that what has been depicted as a supernatural world is actually the working of language--invisible machinations that determine and define the outlines of our lives. For Cupitt, the invisibility we often attach to otherwordly entities is actually the result of language and its ability to seemingly control events.

Unseen concepts and notions are anthropomorphized into gods, goddesses, and demons in various types of human, especially nomadic. With the rise of the centralized agrarian state, these powers were invested in one entitity whose attachment to the social, cultural, and political structure is always operative if bot always apparent. The divinity of the ruler reflects the absolute and all-powerful divinity in this other world. ...

Given the emphasis by contemporary philosophers and theologians on the power of language in shaping beliefs and actions in the world, it's always important to stay tuned to the ways that those in power manipulate language and use it to enforce unjust and oppressive political maneuverings.

Lenin's Tomb reviews a recent book by Lila Rajiva, THE LANGUAGE OF EMPIRE: Abu Ghraib and the American Media. According to the Tomb:

"Ideology", says Lila Rajiva, "prevents the citizens of the state from recognising its violence and allows the state to rewrite the general terrorising of a population through detentions and torture as the inevitable and just operation of law." That's in her excellent book The Language of Empire, an examination of American state violence and political culture in light of Abu Ghraib. The ideology, in Rajiva's account, derives from the myth of Prometheus, America as a rebel taking on the international political and legal establishment lodged atop Mount Olympus. America stealing fire from the world powers to give to the powerless, those states with weak capacity. This myth doesn't so much conceal as provide a semi-coherent story to account for a global system of bribery, coercion, dependency and corruption.

The empire prefers weak states, of course, dictatorships with few of the traditional capacities of modern bureaucratic nation-states, ones that are bought off by the IMF, World Bank, DEA and CIA, ones with weak legitimacy and little accountability to the domestic populace. Hence, you help a general to power in Indonesia, let him butcher a million people, carve up the economy in private sessions with leading multi-national CEOs, encourage the general's family to skim billions off the top of 'development' loans based on exorbitant estimates for construction plans that go nowhere.

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