Phil Graham on 25 Aug 2000 14:43:13 -0000

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<nettime> Rudeness as a public service

Some people say that I have very rude manners when I write.

I take that as a compliment.

In a period of human history when every malicious and pernicious intention
is couched in the most polite, sanitised, technical and obscure language,
rudeness is a public service. 

Hitler called sanitised language "coordination". He called the mechanical
murder of millions of people "the Jewish question", "question" meaning
here much the same as "issue" means today. He knew very well what
sanitising public expression meant: the closure of thought; the effective
creation of a one-track public mind devoid of memory, context, and

His nominalist propaganda lackeys painted a picture of diversity and
vibrant cultural life where homogenous and homogeneous piles of corpses
were the model. 

After all, the nominalist dogma says: "everything is relative". 

Thus the ugliest statement of all: "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". 

It is as if, without people, beauty could not exist. 

It is as if beauty were an attribute of perceptions. 

The statement "She perceives beautifully" does not at all imply the
existence of beauty. It is hardly even sensible. 

That is because the statement grammatically presents "beauty" as an
attribute of someone perceiving, as an adverb of perception, not a
quality. It does so in a far more clear and direct manner than that
sacharine platitude of nominalist dogma. 

"She sees beauty" is somewhat more sensible, but it also implies something
in which the ineffable quality of beauty inheres, or in which it perhaps

If, as the pop-culture of the 70s said, "everything is beautiful in it's
own way", then a pit of corpses miles deep might indeed be an expression
of a vibrant cultural life. Certainly, some significant amount of
efficient and concentrated energy is implied. 

The purpose of sanitising public language is to cleanse it of the horror
it expresses. 

Today Hitlerian "coordination" is called "political correctness" or
"rational debate" or "dialogue" or "negotiation" or "stakeholder
relations" or "public relations" or some other equally disgusting and
authoritarian name. 

It is really just an attempt to close off meaning before critical debate
can start. 

That is why "terms of reference" is such a significant expression today
when political personnel investigate issues of the public good. 

In Draconian Greece, the "terms of reference" were set by means of
deliberative rhetoric designed by sophists. Then they adorned the
remaining narrow set of terms (words, definitions, issues), which had
already been decided beforehand, or which were undecidable from the start,
with epideictic rhetoric, so transforming them into a distorted caricature
of open debate. 

That is our "democratic" inheritance: Draco, not Socrates. 

Now, as then, polemical, unexpert, and dissenting terms that stray from
the "terms of reference" are disallowed or discredited: they are artefacts
of a dirty, inexpert, and disorganised reality. 

Rudeness is a public service. So is humour. So is memory. So is meaning.
So is thought. 

The totalitarian is happy to remove all of these from public access. 

Mass mediated propaganda is the means by which that is achieved today. 

I can hardly see how propaganda is necessary to democracy. Therefore the
propagandist is more likely by nature to be inclined towards

And so rudeness is a public service. 

Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
Phil Graham
Lecturer (Communication)
Graduate School of Management
University of Queensland
617 3381 1083

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