Translating political expressions


A translation website explains how libertarians can skirt actual points of disagreement when “talking” to belligerent fundamentalists (“conservatives”)
http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=103158

The first problem here is that politics and law are all about the use of harmful, coercive and deadly force. Force only serves freedom if limited to the suppression of actual “victimizing” (as opposed to “victimless”) crime. Belligerent fundamentalists, Christian or Mohammedan, see coercion as their friend and tool of policy, which to them boils down to prohibitionism and indoctrination. The whole idea of not initiating the use of force is as alien to the fundamentalist mindset as the notion of geologic time, or of women as individuals.

Science-fiction writer Jack Vance illustrated this in “The Dragon Masters,” an interplanetary war story in which dragons raise captured human children as slave-warriors of their own. A philosopher explains to a human protagonist that no meaningful communication was possible with those humans bred and raised as slaves by an alien race for use in war against mankind. Arguing with mystics is pointless precisely because mystics have nothing but scorn for the facts of reality or formal reasoning–unless exploitable for purposes of coercing females or waging a Holy War. Would you debate a believer who is flying a passenger plane into a building?

Instead, as zoon politikon we cast about for something else they value. In the democratic systems surrounding these bewildered bigots, the ticket to laying hands on unearned money with which to purchase the votes of politicians turns out to be the votes of individual citizens, including airline passengers or people who work in tall buildings. By getting these people to vote against the taxes, coercion, torture and war so valuable to fundamentalists–thus threatening their hold on the reins of deadly force–individuals multiply the bargaining power of their puny individual votes. Conscientious voting aggregates ballots into something more akin to the power of votes wielded by politicians–those “some” animals who are “more equal than others.” Voting “against” a watered-down version of populist communism offered by one looter party by propping up the watered-down Christian national socialism of the other major contender makes no sense when one has the opportunity to cast a powerful libertarian spoiler vote against “both” variants of creeping totalitarianism. Votes are the coin that can buy you some freedom (if used wisely) or turn you over to the worshippers of death (if squandered foolishly). More: search “The case for Voting Libertarian“, now available in two languages.

As working linguists we of course have to interpret different speakers or writers’ handling of concepts the way they intended that they be expressed. Nothing in the job description, however, bars us from having an objective understanding of what is actually going on. Linguists shift into and out of different characters as needed to convey the meaning and intent of different messages, but that does not require that we buy into them. To a witness lying on the stand or a politician hypnotizing the masses, their subjectively understood message is the important thing.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s