17 April 2009

Rebranding Versus Reforming, Part I

Politics relies heavily on words, the meaning of words, and how people perceive words. Labels applied to people and movements are quite important, especially where connotations outweigh denotations. Once a label or designation gains a negative connotation, or perhaps even a perceived negative connotation, there is a good chance that the label will be changed. The hope is that negative connotations will be cast off along with the old brand name.

I believe that it was for this reason that global warming became climate change. Global warming became too tenuous a title, too constraining a dogma. If the climate happened to cool – which arguably it has in the last ten years – then the moniker becomes laughable. Thus global warming was rebranded as climate change. Any change in the climate can, through this rebranding, be blamed on greenhouse gas emissions produced through human activity – presumably including human respiration. Never mind that some things, including climate, are always changing, and controlling them is a pipe dream. If one wishes to believe enough, the logic granted through the rebranding is simply accepted. Even a global ice age may be explained through the trapping of heat by greenhouse gasses.

It may be argued that modern liberals became progressives in the recent past when a negative connotation surrounded the liberal label. This rebranding as I’m referring to it here only goes back as far as this past election cycle. Never mind that there is nothing liberal, in a classical sense, in the modern left-liberal-progressive agenda. The progression of an idea from individual liberty – an element of the classical liberal idea – to centralized, state dominated power structures does not, I would argue, ensure or suggest progress. It does not, I would argue, even employ “new or experimental methods.” The modern left-liberal-progressive agenda has been attempted, albeit without the homeland loathing attitude commonly espoused by the left’s glitterati. When it comes to policy, the name may change, but the song remains the same.

On the other side of the spectrum, the name has stayed the same, but the song in many cases changed. More on that in part two.

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