Sunday, May 8, 2016

"We" Rhetoric

Too many shadows, whispering voices
Faces on posters, too many choices
If, when, why, what
How much have you got?
--Pet Shop Boys

Professor Higgs discusses the insidious use of "we" and other collective rhetoric in political discourse. The intention is to fool people into thinking that groups or institutions act monolithically. They do not. Only individuals act.

"We" rhetoric posits widespread agreement that rarely exists in a axiomatically diverse world.

As William Graham Sumner observed long ago, "we" often means "you" in the sense that you should support someone else's agenda--often couched in terms of some "greater good."

Used in this manner, "we" can be viewed as a positive substitute symbol employed by propagandists.

Higgs concludes, "Man, said Aristotle, is a political animal. A corollary of this proposition is that the political man is a fallacy monger who employs language to get what he wants at other people's expense."

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