Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Plain Words (1980)

From the September 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard

The National Consumer Group recently brought out a pamphlet, Gobbledygook, which is an attack on the almost unintelligible jargon used in official documents. Now socialists are also interested in eradicating gobbledygook, and here are some examples. 

The National Interest
This should be interpreted as The Capitalist Interest, since the interest of capitalist and worker must always be opposed. The capitalist must always try to keep the cost of production (which includes wages) as low as possible, while the worker must strive to protect his wages and working conditions. The phrase is often used by politicians as a last resort when they can't think of a logical argument to use (which is very often the case) - "Of course the government is not opposed to strikes in principle, but this strike is against the national interest . . . "

We Will Have To Pull Our Belts In
Old chestnut usually employed when one government has just been elected in place of another. Generally along the lines that since the last bunch have made such a hash of things, the new bunch will have to apply some firm but unpopular measures to sort out the mess, which usually means another assault on the living-standards of the working-class. If this phrase had been copyrighted it would have accrued a fortune for whoever penned it since it has been used by practically every politician. Often used in conjunction with "The National Interest".

We Are Paying Ourselves Too Much
Delicate play on words here. It really means: We are paying you too much (you being the working class). Especially directed at those workers who have the audacity to ask for more wages as a buffer against rising prices. Does not include royal families, company directors, members of the Stock Exchange and so on, who are grossly underpaid.

Marxist Guerrilla
Much beloved by the media this one. If any serious attempt at accuracy was made then the phrase should read "Leninist Guerrilla". The people in question tend to be minority groups seeking political ends by violent means, a tactic advocated by Lenin and not by Marx. The media, deliberately or through political ignorance, apply the term to any political group who carry out a coup d'etat (usually described as a "Marxist Revolution").

You've Never Had It So Good
Historical curio quoted by Harold MacMillan at a time when workers drank five star brandy and smoked Corrona-Corronas, ran expensive cars and holidayed in the Bahamas. Not used nowadays since even gullible workers find it hard to swallow.

Trendy new word used by smart-alec politicos. Although having different literal meaning has tended to become synonymous with "profitability", for example: "Unfortunately, viability has not been achieved by this plant therefore we have no alternative . . . "

British Disease
No, not a dose of the clap. Not even the common cold. In fact this has nothing to do with disease at all. Refers to a popular prejudice that British workers are lazy and like nothing better than shirking work, and drinking tea all day. Personified in obnoxious and unfunny cartoon strips, also provides much material for would-be comedians who make a living feeding the prejudices of their audiences with stories about workers on strike. Strangely, the working class still manage to churn out enough surplus value to ensure that members of the capitalist class can scratch up the ready for jamborees like Ascot, Henley and Cowes. After the exhausting business of guzzling the Dom Perignon, and splashing hundreds of pounds on the horses of their choice, they can of they wish, sleep for as long as they like without fear of public condemnation.
Finally, we include one phrase which the politicians and the media do not use but which, although not gobbledygook, does warrant a mention because of its profound implications.
Abolish The Wages System
Penned by Karl Marx, this phrase neatly sums up Marx's concept of Scientific Socialism - a world-wide society without buying, selling or exchange in any form, where all wealth would be produced and democratically controlled by and in the interests of society as a whole. Nowadays this phrase is used exclusively by the SPGB and its companion parties abroad in an effort to combat the gobbledygook of the mass media and pseudo socialists.

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