Monday, June 30, 2008

The Left's NewAge Name Game (Fooled You!)

"Political expression on the Left in the American sixties was split. Radical activists such as Students for a Democratic Society (1960-68) drew their ideology from Marxism, with its explicit atheism. But demonstrations with a large hippie contingent often mixed politics with occultism-magic and witchcraft along with costumes and symbolism drawn from Native American religion, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For example, at the mammoth antiwar protest near Washington, DC, in October 1967, Yippies performed a mock-exorcism to levitate the Pentagon and cast out its demons. Not since early nineteenth-century Romanticism had there been such a strange mix of revolutionary politics with ecstatic nature-worship and sex-charged self-transformation. It is precisely this phantasmagoric religious vision that distinguishes the New Left of the American 1960s from the Old Left of the American 1930s and from France's failed leftist insurgency of 1968, both of which were conventionally Marxist in their indifference or antagonism to religion."

-- Camille Paglia, professor and cultural critic, explaining the Left's spiritual/political/cultish cross-currents, in her paper "Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s"

"[Students for a Democratic Society’s] history offers a template for eliminating the embarrassing past. Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and others founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) during the Progressive era, but by World War I the word 'socialist' had fallen from favor. So, with the Left seeing labor unions as the agent of societal change, the ISS became the League for Industrial Democracy (LID). Then, by the end of the 1950s, theorists Herbert Marcuse, C. Wright Mills, and Norman O. Brown scoffed at the idea of blue-collar workers—often violently hostile to the Left’s aims—as transformative agents, and the LID’s student arm, the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID), rechristened itself Students for a Democratic Society. Just as SDS killed SLID as the fifties became the sixties, Weatherman killed SDS as the sixties became the seventies: SDS’s spirit of “participatory democracy” could not peacefully coexist with the vanguardism of Weatherman. And now, completing the circle, the SDS alumni of “progressives” for Obama resurrect a term that would have been more familiar to their distant forebears in the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. On the Left, everything old is eventually new again."

-- Daniel J. Flynn, author of A Conservative History of the American Left, explaining how the Left's political wing has been steadily re-branding itself until merging around the Oprah Winfrey-backed candidacy of Barack Obama, in New York's City Journal

"Quackery is a pejorative term. Some time ago we recognized that words raise emotions and mental pictures. We recognized the cognitive dissonance raised by them, so we tried to eliminate quackery. We recognized the cognitive dissonance raised when one discusses acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and healing at a distance as if they were quackery when we made claims. For a century, most people just could not allow for the possibility that these things really work.

So over time we recognized that we had to do something about our language. That would be the first step in enabling the thought revolution that is upon us, and changing the paradigm in medicine and science. We simply changed the adjectives, and gave alternate names to the methods, added a few phrases to eliminate negative reactions, and shifted the negative terms to descriptions of the Medical Establishment (and, note the caps in that one.)

We now use words like unorthodox, nonstandard, unconventional, alternative, complementary, and the latest, “integrative.” They produce no emotional reaction. Along with this we invented false dichotomies, which became accepted facts; like holistic vs. reductionist, Western vs. Eastern medicine, linear vs. non-linear thinking. The dichotomies reinforced people’s feelings that these things were opposites, but of equivalent linguistic and scientific value."

-- Wallace Sampson, explaining how the other wing of the Left's NewAge/cult followers ("the worried well") have used the exact same tactic in science and medicine, for the Science-Based Medicine blog