Some of us are old enough to remember the playground taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That denial of the power of words, of course, was merely to disempower a bully and quite a bit more effective than crying for mommy in most circumstances.
In this age of online censorship and newly invented categories of offense, it is difficult to even claim that words have absolutely no impact on us. Being called a “racist” or “domestic terrorist” does matter, it can come with serious social consequences and be used as a pretext for punishment of political opponents. No laughing matter.
We are governed by words. If we see a red sign emblazoned with the letters S-T-O-P, we tend to comply (at least partially) without much thought. And, whether you want to comply or not, because of written laws, you’ll end up giving the IRS a significant portion of your income. Words can and do hurt your wallet, they limit opportunity and shape outcomes.
We are steered, employed by others to their own ends, by use of description, framing and narratives. For example, whether a deadly conflict is described as being a “military intervention” (Yemen) or as an “invasion” and “aggression” (Ukraine) has little to do with substantive difference and everything to do with how propagandists wish us to perceive the event.
Context provided, what is or is not reported, changes the moral equation.
Those who control social media platforms understand the power of words. They know that awareness is induced through language and that narrative matters. This is why they have taken such interest in curtailing speech and the dissemination of information. Even if corrupted by partisanship, many of them likely see this as their responsibility or a moral obligation.
Unfortunately, regardless of intent, these self-appointed gatekeepers failed. The same people who routinely “fact-check” hyperbole and satire, even banned people for suspecting the lab origin of the pandemic, have yet to identify the Russian collision narrative as false. The most egregious act was Twitter using bogus reasons to suspend the account of the New York Post for their sharing the Biden laptop bombshell on the eve of the 2020 Presidential vote. Talk about election interference!
Elon Musk’s announcement of his ownership of a significant stake in Twitter and then subsequent buyout of the far-left’s favorite social media has shook up the political establishment. Elizabeth Warren, a powerful US Senator, who leveraged a fiction about her Native American heritage to attain her own privileged position, somehow worth $67 million herself, had this to say:
Strange how now she speaks up about potential “dangerous to democracy,” but not when Big Tech was using the pretense of their “community standards” to ban content creators, including a former President, for challenging their ideological agenda and narratives. Sure, they always could conjure their excuses or hide behind “Twitter is a private business, if you don’t like it start your own internet,” disingenuously while suing individuals who defied their demands, but now the truth comes out, suddenly it is all about democracy:
To those of us who have faced algorithmic demotion and punitive measures for our wrong-think, doing things like posting the actual flag of Ukraine’s Azov battalion or a quote of Hitler praising censorship intended as ironic, there is appreciation for Musk as a free speech advocate. To those who use the word “democracy” as an excuse to trample rights, this represents an enormous threat to the ability to control narrative.
For those of us who have been paying close attention and involved, we know why Yahoo News, along with other far-leftist run online publishers, have shutdown their comment sections. Sure, they may say this was to prevent misinformation, but the reality is that there would often be factual rebuttals or additional context that would undermine the narrative of the article. It was always about control, not protection.
The war of words is as important as that which involves tanks, bombs and guns. It was propaganda and censorship, as much as physical means, that enabled Nazis to put Jews in camps. This is why Russo-phobia, the demonization and cancelation of a whole ethinic group, over things the the US-led imperial left, is so troubling. President Obama was not accused of war crimes for a brutal AC-130 attack on an Afghan hospital, despite the dozens of verified casualties, why is that?
It is, of course, how the story is presented that makes all of the difference. If a writer wants a leader to appear incompetent they might use the words like “bungled” as the description. If they wish to spin it as positive they’ll say “setbacks” and dwell on framing the cause as righteous instead. Those who want the public to support one side of the Ukrainian conflict will downplay or even completely ignore important context, like NATO expansion, the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014, and merciless shelling of the Donbass region.
And this is why Musk promising to restore freedom of speech on Twitter is such a big deal and especially to the current power brokers. The military-industrial complex, which owns the corporate media and many of our politicians, stands to lose billions in revenue if they can’t convince the gullible masses that Vladimir Putin is literally Hitler for leading a US-style “regime change” effort in his own neighborhood.
I mean, how will US political families, like the quid pro quo Biden’s, continue to make their millions in kickbacks (Burisma/Hunter scandal) if Ukrainian’s energy is back under Russian control again?
This is why they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep the presentation of the story as one-sided as possible. They do not want us to hear the facts that may cause questions. They only want us to have their prepacked stawman “don’t say gay” version of their enemies, presented by the late-night funnyman for ridicule, rather than allow a truly informed debate.
Unlike many, the ignorant who accept narratives at face value, the elites with government and corporate power understand that the world is run by ideas. It is how wars are won.
2 thoughts on “Words and Wars — Why Musk Terrifies the Establishment”
Stimulating thoughts and original thinking, as always. I’ve long wondered what your thoughts are on resurrection. I just so happened to look up your blog tonight, and boom, there is a just published article. Synchronicity much?
I will add some of my own thoughts by plagiarizing from Surprised by Hope (by N.T. Wright, who, by the way, thinks highly of Eastern Orthodoxy’s view on eschatology. Not sure of his thoughts on theosis, I’ve always been curious about that) but anyhoo, here goes…
When Paul speaks in Philippians 3 of being “citizens of heaven,” he doesn’t mean that we shall retire there when we have finished our work here. He says in the next line that Jesus will come from heaven in order to transform the present humble body into a glorious body like his own and that he will do this by the power through which he makes all things subject to himself. This little statement contains in a nutshell more or less all Paul’s thought on the subject. The risen Jesus is both the model for the Christian’s future body and the means by which it comes about.
The heart of the New Testament view of the resurrection is 1 Corinthians 15. The hope of resurrection underlies the whole of 1 Corinthians, not just chapter 15. But here Paul addresses it head-on as of central importance. Some in Corinth are denying the future resurrection, almost certainly on the normal pagan grounds that everyone knows dead people don’t rise again. In reply, Paul speaks, as we saw in the previous chapter, of Jesus as the firstfruits and of the great harvest still to come when all Jesus’s people are raised as he has been. The whole chapter echoes and alludes to Genesis 1–3. It is a theology of new creation, not of the abandonment of creation. The heart of the chapter is an exposition of the two different types of bodies, the present one and the future one. This is where all sorts of problems have arisen. Several popular translations, notably the Revised Standard Version and its offshoots, translate Paul’s key phrases as “a physical body” and “a spiritual body.” Simply in terms of the Greek words Paul uses, this cannot be correct. The technical arguments are overwhelming and conclusive. The contrast is between the present body, corruptible, decaying, and doomed to die, and the future body, incorruptible, undecaying, never to die again. The key adjectives, which are quoted endlessly in discussions of this topic, do not refer to a physical body and a nonphysical one, which is how people in our culture are bound to hear the words physical and spiritual. The first word, psychikos, does not in any case mean anything like “physical” in our sense. For Greek speakers of Paul’s day, the psychē, from which the word derives, means the soul, not the body. But the deeper, underlying point is that adjectives of this type, Greek adjectives ending in-ikos, describe not the material out of which things are made but the power or energy that animates them. It is the difference between asking, on the one hand, “Is this a wooden ship or an iron ship?” (the material from which it is made) and asking, on the other, “Is this a steamship or a sailing ship?” (the energy that powers it). Paul is talking about the present body, which is animated by the normal human psychē (the life force we all possess here and now, which gets us through the present life but is ultimately powerless against illness, injury, decay, and death), and the future body, which is animated by God’s pneuma, God’s breath of new life, the energizing power of God’s new creation. This is why, in a further phrase that became controversial as early as the mid-second century, Paul declares that “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” He doesn’t mean that physicality will be abolished. “Flesh and blood” is a technical term for that which is corruptible, transient, heading for death. The contrast, again, is not between what we call physical and what we call nonphysical but between corruptible physicality, on the one hand, and incorruptible physicality, on the other.
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I’ll need to spend time digesting the larger part of what you wrote. St Paul is the most fascinating of NT writers IMO and mostly because of his command of tradition along with ability to bring it all together philosophically, he’s brilliant. As far as my synchronicity, I’m glad you commented, I sometimes wonder why I must expose myself as a skeptic when I would rather be one of those sure of themselves people, but this is maybe why…
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)