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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The C-Word

As you know there are words that should never be pronounced. We refer them with the definite article in front of, then their first character. followed by a dash, and then four characters explaining that this is actually a word. One of these is the C-word. Nobody should pronounce the C-word, as it was introduced in a famous (or infamous?) document of the nineteenth century: the history of all society up to now is the history of [expletive].

The document has a name, it's the Communist Manifesto, no more, no less. I found it once in a very interesting bookstore in Georgetown, it was a collection of manifestos (starting with one authored by Gracchus Babeuf). Well, the C-word in the German original was Klassenkampf, which meant class struggle. The problem was that some guys were more Catholics than even the Pope of the Klassenkampf and extended the meaning towards class warfare.

The funny thing is that nowadays the C-word is not used as much by the Left, rather by the Right. Compare President Obama's presentation of his tax program (this is not class warfare, it's math) with Fox (Entitlement nation: Makers versus Takers, where Takers, you gotcha, means the C-Word). Another synonym used by Fox for the C-Word is Moocher (which means Taker, only a bit more offensive, that's it).

I would like to tell all these guys that there is no class in America, only middle class, but I know that this is the country of all possibilities, from early birds to Wall Street occupation.

Read an article by Geoff Nunberg (the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously, and the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross):

(Zoon Politikon)



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