Words are weapons. In the “culture war,” words are the most powerful weapon.
Control of words is how revolutionaries get us to think a certain way—the way they wish us to think.
Early 20th-century Italian Communist Party leader and leading “cultural warrior” Antonio Gramsci put it this way: “Ideas and opinions are not spontaneously ‘born’ in each individual brain: they have had a center of formation, or irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion—a group of men, or a single individual even, which has developed them and presented them in the political form of current reality.”
The tool for planting these ideas is words.
According to Monica Showalter, writing for Investor’s Business Daily, Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin weaponized words to win the Bolshevik Revolution:
“As early as 1903, at a party congress, Lenin won a membership issue by a single vote. But from then on, he called his faction ‘the Bolsheviks,’ or majoritarians, and his opponents ‘Mensheviks,’ or minoritarians. It didn’t matter that the Bolsheviks never were a true majority among Russia’s revolutionaries; what mattered was the perception of power.
“Lenin repeated the tactic by dubbing Bolsheviks ‘Reds’ to signal an affinity with the bloody violence of the French Revolution, while their battlefield opponents were saddled with ‘Whites’ to link them with the discredited French Bourbon dynasty. Lenin also took title to the word ‘democracy,’ disarming opponents who were then unable to project a coherent message. By controlling words, Lenin controlled perceptions of reality.”
Why, then, do freedom fighters and anti-communists persistently use the words of our enemies to our own disadvantage?
Why do we define ourselves using our opponents’ terms? Why do we label the enemy in their own terms, not ours?
To win the war, we must control the language. We can’t set the terms of battle while using the language of the enemy against our own best interests.
Here are five words that I believe we should stop using. They are all tainted and inaccurate. They have all been weaponized against us.
Conservative has become almost synonymous with “fascist” in modern America. Once it meant to “conserve” the Constitution, American values, and the American way of life. Today, to much of America, it means someone who supports the status quo and big business, maybe even a reactionary, a racist, or a “white supremacist.”
Socialism has advanced so far in America that the only thing “conservatives” usually end up conserving is big government. In my home country of New Zealand, “conservatives” oppose selling off state-run businesses. They want to “conserve” state control! We even hear of “conservative” old guard communists in China and Russia trying to preserve “traditional” socialism.
Let’s abandon the word. It’s a terrible word for attracting young people to the liberty movement. Until we can come up with something better, let’s use “Constitutionalist.” It’s a little clumsy, but it’s accurate and seizes the moral high ground. It’s also hard to attack. Who wants to be identified as an anti-Constitutionalist?
To most Constitutionalists, capitalism and capitalist mean supporting business, industry, and the American Way. To socialists and most young Americans, these words mean heartless multinational corporations seeking profit at all costs and degrading the environment. Capital means money, huge wealth, and extravagance to most young people. It’s no longer understood as intellectual or material property used to produce wealth for all.
The word “capitalism” has been around since the 16th century but was popularized in the 19th century by French socialist Louis Blanc and the founders of “communism”: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. “Capitalism” is essentially a Marxist word that our enemies use to beat us with.
Let’s resurrect “free enterprise.” It’s accurate, it’s idealistic, and it’s dynamic. When people hear the words “free enterprise,” they don’t think of faceless mega-bankers and Wall Street hustlers. “Free enterprise” conjures up images of young entrepreneurs taking on the world, family farms, and mom and pop stores. Most Americans believe in “free enterprise,” not so much in “capitalism.”
The United States is not and never has been a “democracy,” although you wouldn’t know that from watching Fox News or most Democratic and many Republican Party politicians.
The United States of America is a “republic,” derived from the Latin “res publica”—the “people’s thing.”
Democracy means simply the will of the majority. The Founding Fathers were scholars of history. They knew that “majority rule” would inevitably lead to tyranny. Rights that are subject only to the whim of 50 percent plus one, are no rights at all.
The Founding Fathers designed a far superior system: the “constitutional republic.” Rights were to be enshrined in law and protected by a written constitution that would be protected from the tyranny of the majority—or “mob rule.” Some elements of “democracy” were incorporated into the system, to elect public officials and later to vote on ballot measures, but the fundamental rights of the people were seen as coming from God, never to be subjected to the popular vote.
A republic is far superior to a democracy in that it uses checks and balances to protect individual liberties against oppression from any quarter—including majorities.
The United States is a “republic.” We should always use that term. Never should we play into our enemies’ hands by downgrading this nation to “democracy” status.
The Green New Deal isn’t a “liberal” proposal—it is socialist. The $15-per-hour minimum wage is not a liberal measure—it comes directly from the Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party USA. Antifa isn’t a “liberal” group, as Fox News often labels it—it’s communist/anarchist. Socialist groups regularly label their opposition fascists, Nazis, and white supremacists. We call them “liberal.” Socialist is the appropriate label.
Almost every policy coming out of today’s Democratic Party is demonstrably socialist. Most of the “liberal” commentators we see on TV are in fact socialists. The word “liberal” is far too kind and no longer accurate. Let’s call socialists socialists. No more giving them a respectability they don’t deserve.
The currently fashionable word “progressive” has partially replaced “liberal” as a euphemism for socialist. There is, however, a subtle difference. “Progressive,” in its current usage, came out of the socialist and communist movements of the 20th century. According to Marxist theory, humanity is slowly and inevitably “progressing” toward communism. Therefore, anyone assisting this historical process was, by definition, a “progressive.”
“Progressive” was used by Marxists as a code word. Put “progressive” into an organization’s name and all the comrades would know it was communist, even if the general public didn’t. Former communist David Horowitz was active in the Sunnyside Young Progressives as a teenager. In the 1950s, the Communist Party of New Zealand’s junior wing was known as the Progressive Youth League. “Progressive” also was used to identify friends and allies in the movement. “She’s a good progressive” didn’t necessarily mean the woman in question was a Communist Party member, but that she was at least working in the interests of the movement.
Never should we talk about “progressives.” These people and the movements they promote are working, whether they acknowledge it or not, to advance communism. “Progressives” are, whether they know it or not, Marxists. That’s how they should be labeled: Marxists promoting Marxist ideas.
President Donald Trump has shown us how to use weaponize words like no other president in generations. Who can forget “Lyin’ Hillary” (Hillary Clinton), “Low-energy Jeb” (Jeb Bush), “Pocahontas” (Sen. Elizabeth Warren), or his masterful use of “fake news,” which drives the liberal—whoops, I mean socialist—media nuts.
In his 2019 State of the Union speech, Trump didn’t attack “liberalism” or “progressivism”; he specifically and accurately attacked “socialism.”
We all need to follow the president’s example. We must stop using the enemy’s lexicon. Any good duelist understands that he who chooses the weaponry has the advantage.
Let’s stop using the weapons our enemy chooses for us. We are in a fight for the survival of our civilization. This is a life-or-death battle between good and evil. Let’s choose our own weapons of war and fight this war to win it.
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.