Karl Carlile pad at
Wed Feb 21 09:03:01 MST 1996

The use of ""obscene"" language  generally adds nothing to the meaning of an
argument. If these "words" add meaning to dialectical argument then one
would might have expected Marx and Lenin to have made more generous use of
this "language" in their works and speeches.

If the character of the capitalist economy or other matters is being
discussed "obscene words" add nothing to the discussion and if anything only
pollute and confuse. In many cases this language  is used as a substitute
for rational argument.

Furthermore the use of "obscene language" in an abusive pornographic way is
an attempt to debase the individual. Some members of the list attack others
on the list by the use of "obscene language". In this way they are engaged
in what one might call a personal attack rather than a political attack.
Clearly to substitute abusive personal attacks for political argument is
reactionary and irrational. Irrationalism is a reactionary ideology which
marxism has persistently struggled against. If this kind of irrationaism is
acceptable then rational discussion is redundant. Consequently marxism is
unnecessary. Then discussion is reduced to sustained verbal abuse.
Consequently it collapses into meaningless babble and thereby non-humanity.

If "obscene language" has rational meaning then there is no reason why the
text of Capital and Left-Wing Communism An Infantile Disorder cannot be
translated into this language. The fact that there have been no  significant
texts produced in this language is evidence of the severe limitations of
this "language";  its inability to say anything significant.

The use of this "language" in an argument is a way of saying that the
prevalent language being used  is inadequate to the task. It is an
expression of the lack of confidence in the practiced language: the need to
reach for these words to prop up one's argument. Yet since these words share
no commonality with the principal language being used to convey an argument
it is clear then that the use of the "obscene" language is a tacit attack on
that very language together with  the argument presented. The use of
"obscenities", then, is an attack on human language. It is a call for
non-language. It is a programme that promotes ugh, ugh. Since it is
anti-language it is anti-human and thereby reactionary. It is "a language"
that promotes non-language. It is an expression of lack of self-confidence
in human beings and thereby the working class. It desires to promote
meaningless and thereby ignorance among the working class. The promotion of
"obnscene language" is a form of what I cal lingophobia or linguistic
Ludditism. It is a reactionary politics. It is nihilistic

Among many lefties there is the mistaken view that the use of this
"language" is chic. Some people on the list may also use this "language"
because of negative peer pressure. It is easy to engage in "obscene" verbal
abuse against another member of the list while hiding behind the anonymity
of the internet.

I would like those people hostile to my posting on verbal abuse to try to
engage in serious discussion concerning the matter rather than deliver
feeble and even abusive responses. I also urge those who are against its use
to stand up and be counted by making their views known to the list. I will
conclude this posting with a quotation from Leon Trotsky:

"I read lately in one of our papers that at a general meeting of the workers
at the "Paris Commune" shoe factory, a resolution was carried to abstain
from swearing, to impose fines for bad language, etc....

Abusive language and swearing are a legacy of slavery, humiliation and
disrespect for human dignity- one's own and that of other people."

Incidentally I have used copious quotation marks in  this posting. I hope
they show up at the other end.

Yours etc.,
                  Karl Carlile

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list