Watching Our Language: The Left-Right Language Barrier

By:  Selwyn Duke
01/31/2012
       
Watching Our Language: The Left-Right Language Barrier

Language barriers are obviously an impediment to communication. If one man speaks Chinese and another Swedish, it may be hard for them to settle even simple matters, let alone the deep issues of the day. Yet there can be language barriers even within a language, such as when people use ill-defined terminology. In fact, some debates rage on endlessly partially because people who have the same tongue are, sometimes unknowingly, speaking a different language.

 

Language barriers are obviously an impediment to communication. If one man speaks Chinese and another Swedish, it may be hard for them to settle even simple matters, let alone the deep issues of the day. Yet there can be language barriers even within a language, such as when people use ill-defined terminology. In fact, some debates rage on endlessly partially because people who have the same tongue are, sometimes unknowingly, speaking a different language.

This occurs to me when I hear many arguments about Left versus Right. For example, it’s not uncommon for conservatives and liberals to debate whether groups such as the Nazis and Italian fascists were of the Left or Right. Of course, it’s not hard to figure out who takes what position! What, however, is the truth?

Some will say that you can recognize the “Right” based on racial and nationalistic ideology, but the fact is that there simply is no unique correlation between groups which textbooks have labeled as rightist and such beliefs. For example, Italian fascism — and the ideology was born in Italy — never had a racial or ethnic component. And this changed only a few decades after its birth when, pandering to Hitler, Benito Mussolini enacted some anti-Jewish laws during the waning days of his regime. Even so, these measures were condemned at the time as un-fascist.

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Selwyn Duke (photo)

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