Friday, April 08, 2005


Hacking Language

Computer programs are tricked into doing things they were not designed to do. Usually, this is done by injecting input the program mishandles. Similarly, the same can be done with humans by injecting language they're not prepared for:

These aren't the droids you're looking for.

It's called social engineering. In the previous example, the target is an individual. Generally, the security community focuses on this type of social engineering. But, what if the target was millions of people?

Today, I was watching an interview of an intelligent student refer to his opposition to the administration's social security privatization plan as dissent. Robert Jensen reveals why contributing to the public discussion should not be characterized as dissent:

If we all are part of the process of formulating policy options -- if we do not give up the right to be involved in that process -- then we begin with the idea that all policy options are open, and that the people will decide which option they want the government to pursue.

If that were the case, then [...we...] wouldn’t be dissenting from some already-agreed-upon position. We would be contributing a policy option to the discussion. That wouldn’t be dissent; it would be participation in a conversation about which option or options might be most desirable.

Now, after the political process has concluded and a policy is chosen, then it makes sense to say that one dissents from that.

There is no better characterization of the social security privatization initiative than crony capitalism. The skill of fascist propaganda is revealed when otherwise intelligent people are being made to refer to the status quo as dissent.

He who carries the biggest stick controls reality. He does it by hacking language and we're a bunch of suckers.

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