I am more frustrated than I should be by how fucking common it is that anarchists and voluntayrists (it exists among libertarians, too, but not in numbers nearly as high, though it seems to represent a majority of A/Vs) basically speak in tongues trying to make their points. I am going to build off what I wrote before, and explaining why it’s such a problem.
Actually, the funny thing about that little thing I wrote above is that… those are pretty much exactly the right words to convey what I was trying to get across. By obsessing over grammatical structure, they are confusing obedience with knowledge, and they are hiding weakness behind linguistic parlor tricks. I am proud to make arguments for anarchism without resorting to such nonsense. I would suggest that if you cannot make the argument for voluntaryism or anarchism without saying something like:
Bezboznik’s argument for taking this route, in a manner of speaking, was multifaceted, in stating that it would lead to a reduction in congestion since there would be “no free riders”; that it would lead to less crime, citing private roads that are rarely utilized by comparing them to public roads utilized by nearly everyone; that it would hold road owners to more responsibility for maintaining both order on, and sustentation of the roads compared to that of government monopolies, a free market point I won’t refute; that it will encourage construction of infrastructure, which goes without saying; and that it will encourage small business, which brings me to the alternative that will later be discussed.
… then you, to be perfectly frank, have no business writing in the first place. That’s okay–writing is not your strong suit. Not everyone is good at everything. Writing, however, is about communicating via the written word. That is all it’s about. That is why it exists, and that is why people do it: to communicate via the written word. Throwing out such needlessly pretentious writing is the equivalent of being the world’s best guitar player while being totally unable to improvise a solo or to write music that comes from the heart. Music, of course, is the language of emotion, and the goal of music is to communicate emotion. All of the technique in the world will not let someone do this:
Not to brag, but did you hear that? Just saying–no death metal guitar player could have conveyed that.
My problem with emotions is that I can’t communicate them otherwise. Emotions don’t translate well into words; that is what my old moniker “I/E” was about. Language is handled by an entirely different part of the brain than that which handles emotion, and there is literally a translation between the two. “Love” as a word doesn’t even start to convey the emotion. “Despair” as a word doesn’t even start to convey the emotion. It is a translation of the emotion, a very weak attempt at communication. Music, however, speaks directly to that same part of the brain that deals in emotion, bypassing the language translation altogether.
My journey with writing is actually a funny one. From 18 to about 23, I read a lot of 18th and 19th century writers. Of them, Benjamin Franklin was my favorite, and I desperately attempted to emulate his style. My first semester in college had me doing that, and I received perfect scores on my essays. In fact, the professor commented that I had a “very mature style!” She included the exclamation point. I wish that I still had the essay that I’m thinking of, but it has long been gone.
One day while reading one of Franklin’s works, I paused on a sentence and remarked aloud, “That is the worst sentence I have ever read.”
I read it again, and then again. I went to the preceding sentence, and found that it was just as terrible. Shocked, I went through what was then a large library and pulled the collections I had, searching them for Franklin’s writings, and going through them quickly. All I found was terrible writing, though. This person that I had spent years successfully emulating… was a terrible writer. He used one hundred words to say something that could have been said in ten. Brevity is still a huge problem for me; you can imagine how bad I was back then.
I turned to my other idol of the period. This idol had a wildly different writing style–one that I didn’t like nearly as much, though I loved what this other person had to say. This other person was Thomas Paine, who stands in my mind as one of the most talented writers who ever lived. In fact, compare his The Rights of Man to Mary Shelley’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men, and you’ll see basically the Thomas Paine / Benjamin Franklin divide clearly, though Shelley was much better than Franklin.
I am more frustrated than I should be by how fucking common…
… is what I say today. Back then, I probably would have said:
Only after considerable ponderance have I determined that the source of my ire is the ubiquity, and the mundanity which so often accompanies the familiar, of…
To me, it’s just about saying what I mean to say. It wasn’t always this way. Sometimes, this does produce some pretentious stuff, like when I said:
It’s clearly meant to screen out people who don’t confuse pretentiousness with intellectualism. People above a certain threshold of intellect will recognize this for the codswallop of trite inanities that it is, while people below a certain threshold will not even understand it. There is a narrow place between those two thresholds, where there exist people who can be dazzled by the spectacle, much in the same way that people are enraptured by the antics of stage magicians.
The above is more pretentious than I would like, but it says exactly what I meant to say.
Generally speaking, Rule 1 of writing anything is that the first word you think of to use is the right word to use. If you go to the second word, because it’s a synonym, a bit of it gets lost, and if you proceed to the third or fourth–or use a thesaurus, you piece of shit–then the original meaning is often lost entirely. Think about words like colors. If I wanted to describe a color to you, I could say that it’s blue.
“Ew!” I might think quietly. “‘Blue’ is such a short and boring word. It’s mundane. No one will be impressed if I describe the man’s shirt as ‘blue,’ so he needs a better color than that. People will read it and think, ‘Oh, he’s wearing a blue shirt… How fascinating… not!’ like it’s the nineties and they think Wayne’s World is still cool. And I do not want to be associated with Wayne’s World! Oh, my god, I just started a sentence with ‘and!’ Argh! What is happening to me? I can’t keep–this is terrible writing! Blue! I need a synonym for blue! <Opens Google> Aha! Azure! Perfect!”
So the shirt is azure now:
Oh. But… those aren’t the same color, are they? They’re not even close. If you were filling out a police report and they asked you what color shirt he was wearing, and you said “azure” they may very well leave your perp alone because he’s wearing a blue shirt, and not an azure one. “Yeah, ‘azure’ is a step in the wrong direction. How about cerulean? That’s a four syllable word, for fuck’s sake! Oh, my god, I just wrote ‘fuck!’ Do I turn myself into the Grammar Nazis, or will they come find me? Cerulean, though… That’s four syllables! I can’t pass that up. It’s too perfect!”
Cerulean is certainly closer than “azure,” but we’re still pretty far from what we meant, if what we meant was “blue.” Now we’ve mixed in some grey and given it a sort of purple tint. Or violent tint? Maybe we added a slight dash of magenta to it.
Whatever we did, we didn’t simply say what we meant.
We looked around for a fancy synonym that was close to what we meant, willing to trade off accuracy to our meaning for a four-syllable word.
When we’re dealing with the color of someone’s shirt in a short story, it’s probably irrelevant whether the shirt was blue, cerulean, azure, sapphire, or some other shade. However, here in the real world of political ideologies and social constructs, we’re not dealing with things as trivial as the hue of a shirt; we’re discussing changing the very shape of the world and human society. This deserves clean and effective communication, not pretentious diatribe.
As I remarked previously, not very many people will be fooled by these linguistic magician tricks. For one, some people are too stupid or uneducated to know the meanings of the words being used. I only had to go to the second post of a Voluntaryist / Anarchist group I’m in to find this… “gem”:
I will posit that freedom is good, and free markets as part of that system are also good. Free markets (let’s call it laissez-faire capitalism, not the crony capitalism in which business and government work hand in hand to gain influence and wealth at the expense of taxpayers) are both moral and utilitarian as seen empirically and have been the engine behind which the serf, slave, and farm hand (just to name three subsets of common laborers) have managed to escape the grinding poverty that divided us into a very thin but extremely wealthy upper class, and a very fat, but extremely poor subsistence hunter, gather, farmer.
Now, every now and then, I posit things. Not very often, though.
“Laissez-faire capitalism” and free markets aren’t synonymous, because there’s fascist interventionism even in Reaganomics, but I’ll let it slide. Anyway, let’s take a look at it:
- “moral and utilitarian as seen empirically”
- “have the engine behind which the serf, slave, and farmhand…”
- “three subsets of common laborers”
- “but extremely poor subsistence hunter, gather, farmer.”
Now, pretentiousness aside, what did the paragraph actually say? “I think freedom and free markets are good, because they helped us escape poverty.”
Look how many words this guy took to convey that simple idea. Is his gargantuan sentence of tangents and unnecessary explanations stronger or more effective than mine? No. In neither case did he explain how the free market helped us to escape poverty; he only speculated that it did. His statement and mine have precisely the same meanings; his simply is horrifically inaccurate in conveying that meaning from his head to yours. There’s a lot of bullshit you have to cut through first. You have to cut out the entire parenthetical phrase, but not just because it’s meaningless and irrelevant–it’s also wrong. “…influence and wealth” is also redundant, for obvious reasons. “…as seen empirically” is of no value to anyone when you’re offering an opinion, which you are clearly doing when you “posit” something. Did you just say that free markets lifted the slave out of poverty? I don’t even know where to start with that. They are not subsets of common laborers; common is a subset of laborer, and the examples you gave are instances of that subset. The last statement is also mostly meaningless, as the free market had very little to do with the rise of technology; abundance gave rise to technology, and this abundance also gave rise to the free market–again, for obvious reasons. If you have an abundance of grain, it’s in your best interests to trade it to someone who has an abundance of chickens. Boom, the free market is born.
Now, I’m nitpicking this guy’s paragraph. I confess to that. I don’t consider myself a Grammar Nazi, though, because there are only two types of people that I turn this ire onto: Grammar Nazis and pretentious writers. Yes, if you’re going to be a Grammar Nazi on someone, then you’d better make goddamned sure that your grammar is impeccable, because I will rip it apart. So, too, if you write pretentiously, you’d better be certain that it’s flawless. Here, for instance, “behind which” is incorrect, because it should be “through which.”
The important thing to take away, however, is that his entire paragraph can be reduced to a single sentence, and it’s pretty much the first sentence he wrote. This is a common mistake that people make; they lead with a brief summary of their idea, and then spend the paragraph repeating that idea, rather than expanding on it. We can see that his is repetition, not expansion, because it adds literally nothing to the conversation that isn’t conveyed in “I think freedom and free markets are good, because they helped us escape poverty.”
Moving on, though, let’s see how many more posts I have to go before I find something horrifically superfluous.
Ooh! Here’s someone’s Steemit post!
I hate this. People write on Steemit and share their stuff to the page often, and I don’t think that’s right, because they’re trying to make money directly from it. Buy a domain name or join WordPress. Join WordPress, build a following, and then buy a domain name. I’m not wildly popular, but I have enough readers to justify the whopping $10/month it costs me to maintain www.anarchistshemale.com. I’m not just some random person writing and making videos; I’m the Anarchist Shemale. Anyway. I haven’t even looked at the post yet; I’ve only opened it. It’s a Christian case for spanking. In an Anarchist / Voluntaryist Closed Group. While you let that sink in, I’ll be looking for a juicy bit of nonsense.
Christ, himself has referenced Proverbs and yet, his reaction to the boy possessed by demons, who more than likely engaged in baneful activity to acquire such spirits, was not a beating rod or a suggestion to his parents that he be spanked.
The article was really short, mostly about a few Bible verses, and didn’t really have anything to say. That was the only really pretentious bit I found.
I’m the last person to criticize someone for not editing, because I don’t edit 15% of the things I write, but I do know how to edit. I always re-read my articles… after I publish them… and fix glaring typos and sentence problems. Because I intentionally don’t write pretentiously, I don’t ordinarily have a problem with sentence structure. I’m convinced that I would catch a sentence like that before publishing, though… Good god.
Christ has personally referenced Proverbs, yet his reaction to the boy who is possessed by demons (and was more than likely engaged in baneful activity to acquire such spirits) was not a beating or a command that the parents spank the child.
There are several issues with the first iteration. No comma is needed after Christ, obviously, and should come after “and,” rather than “yet.” There are way too many commas for a sentence of this length, so the phrase about “baneful activity” needs to be separated by parentheses or a dash. There is nothing wrong with using a dash. I’ve been through college level writing. It is accepted in formal writing. I wouldn’t recommend using them in every single sentence, but the dash is a great way to avoid using a semi-colon, or to separate out a part of the sentence that would otherwise go in parentheses. Here, I chose parentheses because of the “and.”
“…was not a beating rod or a suggestion to his parents that he be spanked.”
I’ll be honest: I can’t identify exactly what it is about this section that is sloppy. “…that he be spanked” is obviously not good, because “be spanked” is much weaker than “spank.” It’s passive, at least. I arbitrarily changed “suggestion” to “command” to make the statement more powerful, but “suggestion” could have been left. “Rod” was removed entirely because it confused the flow of the sentence for modern readers. Honestly, when was the last time you heard anyone talk of a “beating rod?” Probably only just now? It’s antiquated as fuck. We could change it to “…was not a belt or command that the parents spank the child.” and it would be a tad stronger.
The final section breaks the parallel structure, too.
Negative > Predicate Noun
Negative (Implied) > Possessed Predicate Noun > Possessor > Verb recipient > Passive Predicate Verb
I’m not enough of a grammar expert to know what a “possessed predicate noun” would actually be called “technically,” but it doesn’t matter. We can see that there is no parallel structure. There isn’t a parallel structure to mine, either, so maybe it’s just the passive verb that makes it so bad.
Parallelism is actually broken quite a lot by people who aren’t writers. I don’t mean anything arrogant by saying that I’m a writer. In fact, I’ve never made any judgment about the quality of my writing. I am, however, a writer, because I trained to be a writer. From the time I was about 13 years old, when we got our Compaq 386, until today, I have trained to be a writer. I have read tons about writing. As I once remarked to someone, “I’ve written more words than you’ve read, and I’ve read more words than you’ve said.”
What I mean by parallelism is this:
We are going to the store, to the cafe, and then watch the football game.
Putting aside that this example actually begs to be made parallel and is a shitty example, the parallel way would be:
We are going to the store, to the cafe, and then to watch the football game.
I’m going to one more example–another Steemit article. Because of course it is.
[The United States Armed Forces has] been used against the anti-socialist neocons since the end of the Bush era, but never seemed to serve as a caveat for antiwar and noninterventionist libertarians—in fact, it’s a talking point that is foolproof in attracting converts—but there have yet to be proposed any free market solutions to a program that is arguably essential to the security of a society that is unanimously envied and insusceptible to any imminent threat, whether it be foreign or domestic, because such a program exists.
One single sentence.
What a way to start an article. Jesus fucking Christ. Did anyone out here writing on the Internet bother to learn how to write? Actually, I didn’t include the first sentence. I did so just so that I could point out that it was one long fucking sentence. Here’s the entire two sentence paragraph:
As is commonly known, the United States Armed Forces is a product of state socialism. It’s been used against the anti-socialist neocons since the end of the Bush era, but never seemed to serve as a caveat for antiwar and noninterventionist libertarians—in fact, it’s a talking point that is foolproof in attracting converts—but there have yet to be proposed any free market solutions to a program that is arguably essential to the security of a society that is unanimously envied and insusceptible to any imminent threat, whether it be foreign or domestic, because such a program exists.
Without getting into whether the military is a product of state socialism (it isn’t–it’s a product of fascism, I would argue, but not socialism), things almost immediately go awry with this trainwreck, stream-of-consciousness paragraph. Honestly, I haven’t even read the entire thing. I get to “foolproof” when my eyes glaze over. How far do you get? That’s alarming, because my life is words. If I can’t get through your opening paragraph without glazing over, then you catastrophically failed your duty as a writer. <Sigh> Where to begin? Should I begin? Let’s just dissect the word salad:
- “product of state socialism” [Is there any other kind?]
- anti-socialist neocons
- “never seemed to serve as a caveat”
- “for antiwar and noninterventionist libertarians”
- “foolproof in attracting converts”
- “there have yet to be” [Not pretentious for “long” reasons, but still pretentious-sounding]
- arguably essential to the security of a society
- unanimously envied [by who?]
- and susceptible to imminent threat
Oi vey. I don’t even know where to start.
Actually, yes, I do: with a simple question.
Just what in the fuck is “[The United States Armed Forces has] never seemed to serve as a caveat for antiwar and noninterventionist libertarians…” supposed to mean? Do you mean to say that the question of how we can defend “the nation” without the armed forces has never been a point of contention between libertarians and non-libertarians? Because it has–it most certainly has. In fact, it’s the main caveat. It is not only ineffective at “attracting converts,” but is the primary reason that people do not become libertarians.
The United States Armed Forces is a product of state socialism. It has been used against the anti-socialist neocons since the end of the Bush era, but was never a caveat for libertarians–in fact, it’s foolproof as a method of attracting converts–but there has been no proposed free market alternative to this program that is allegedly essential to the security of an envied society, because such a program already exists [important corrections in bold].
It’s still a nonsensical word salad that is blatantly false and self-contradictory.
The military is socialist and has been used against the anti-socialist neocons? This writing needs some major clarification. If the neocons can support this “state socialist” organization, then they are, ipso facto, not anti-socialist. Here is where the fascism/socialism difference would have been important. If the military is fascist, then the neocons can still be anti-socialist, because the fascism we have today is quasi-socialist, but only insofar as fascism obviously contains a bit of socialism.
Secondly, “But who will protect us from the Russians?” is at least the second most common argument I hear against libertarianism and anarchism, beaten out only by “But who will build the roads?”
The USAF is quite possibly the strongest defense agency in the world, if not, that the world has ever known, despite its shortcomings—the collateral damage caused by drone strikes, the needless deployment of troops to Germany and Japan, where there is no conflict, etc.—but despite the libertarian solution to state policy being privatization, such is not the case with military. Unlike roads and infrastructure, national security is not provided through private contractors, which means that it will disappear along with the state. In a manner of speaking, the military is not socialist because it’s funded through taxes. It’s socialist because it is one giant government union.
Okay, I want to say something–this really irks me. There is nothing socialistic about unions. In fact, unions are an essential counterbalance against corporate employers in a free market society. If a corporation isn’t treating its employees well, they have two options: unionize and demand better benefits, or leave. Leaving is usually the most difficult of the two options. There is not a tiny bit of force, violence, or coercion in this, and no one ever demands that anyone else relinquish their property against their will, or communally share it. Many modern unions do take this avenue, but it is not a feature of unions themselves. Many automobiles have trunks, but that does not mean that a trunk is an essential characteristic of an automobile.
This “RAWR, UNIONS ARE BAD” attitude is precisely why many people say that libertarians only give a shit about corporations and rich people. You would apparently argue that unions are inherently socialist–that’s nonsense. There is nothing socialist about a people coming together and asking for better wages, benefits, or whatever. Just as the company has every right to simply fire the employees if they want too much money, so do the employees have every right to ask for more money, and to drop an ultimatum on the employer. Unions are not tertiary to the process of checking corporate power; they are critical. Unions do on the inside what consumers do on the outside. To say that unions are inherently socialist is to say that consumers banding together to boycott a store is socialistic; the only difference is that one is an employee and one is not. It’s still just a union.
It’s hard to move on, because the sentences are long, weaving pieces of nonsense strung together by haphazard dashes and commas. Remember what I said earlier, about not overusing them?
Despite its shortcomings (the collateral damage by drone strikes, and pointless deployment in places like Germany and Japan, where there is no conflict), the USAF is the strongest defense agency that the world has ever known, but, despite the libertarian solution to state policy being “privatization,” such is not the case with the military [What? Or anything else, for that matter…]. Unlike roads [See? I knew we’d get there eventually] and other infrastructure, national security is not provided through private contractors [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_defense_contractors would like to have a word with you], which means that it will disappear along with the state [a fallacy]. In a manner of speaking, the military is not socialist because it’s funded through taxes [Um… Yes, it is. If it’s socialist at all, then that is precisely why]. It’s socialist because it is one giant government union.
Alright, well. This is blatantly wrong, for one, so I guess we’ll start there. “National security is not provided through private contractors…” Are you kidding me? AirScan, Academi, Titan Corporation…
I can’t finish this now. Sigh.
Anyway. Please remember that your primary goal, when you write something, is to communicate. Your goal is not to impress people with your command of technical grammatical syntax, and if that is the reason you are writing, please stop. Don’t say “cerulean” because it sounds fancier if what you mean is “blue.”