In contemporary literary theory nothing seems to put breaks on the ever-complicating thematic of fluidity, arbitrariness or the slipperiness of the signified in human languages. The complexities of language, its inherent tendency to generate a series of ambiguous meanings when words, like that of a nuclear fission reaction, collide with each other in a vast system of signification, and its strong effect on the behaviour of human nervous, endocrine and psychological makeup, have resulted into a laborious proliferation of theories. Given its inherent dual, deceptive and paradoxical characteristics, language has been historically used by the powerful as a significant means of public oppression, division and subordination. Language is essentially power-friendly. With the powerful it speaks louder, words spill over a range of meanings and audibility is such that ears cannot forget them for very long. With the poor it loses its semantic and metaphorical grace, it eats unto its own anatomy of meaning. In our changing global political culture, as in the past, the manipulation of this intrinsic torturous elaborateness of language has comparatively gone deeper into shaping the underlying assumptions and codifications that govern behaviour in a political system.
From Abraham Lincoln to Trump the semantic as well as the formal structure of political lexicon has undergone a considerable change like interpretative communities of the changing electorate. Trump’s scorched-earth political lexicon like “radical Islamic terrorism,” “crooked Hillary,” “drain the swamp”, “lying Ted” would not have been received with such a seething enthusiasm in Lincoln’s America. Trump’s populist rhetoric is working as desired on American collective sensibility, giving people a hope that someone has finally arrived to save them from the threat of international terrorist and corporate forces.
Likewise, in India the conspicuous upsurge in the political vocabulary of BJP Government is actually aimed at criticizing the fictitious political paralysis of recent years; pull the country into an India-first nationalism and gently coax people into believing that ‘achhe din aane waale hai.’ Knowing the cultural heterogeneity and varying political conditions across different states of the country, our politicians are highly aware of the manipulation of political terminology and the interpretative communities. The tone and syntax of an Adityanath vocabulary, no doubt contrived, is contextually as calculated and timely in UP as the blunt Owasie lexicon in Hyderabad. Knowing the elections are coming up and how to benefit from the political derelict of Kashmir the Omar Abdullah lexicon undergoes a transfiguration; he can now suddenly deconstruct the Modi-Shah acronym politics with a linguist twist ‘ODOMOS-overdose of only Modi only Shah’ only to lure this credulous electorate into his linguistic trap. Anant Hegde, Sakshi Maharaj, Subramanian Swamy, Farooq Abdullah etc. are no less portentous political linguistic constructions than the highly ominous metaphors of Ram Mandir, cow or Pakistan. And it is during elections that this lexical histrionics cheapens to its worst; Pakistan becomes a deadly political other, an extremely immediate threat to an imaginary integrity of India, Kashmir becomes a battlefield where an army is said to be shedding blood for an imaginary mission of patriotism and Ram Mandir becomes a menacing civilisational impasse ever.
In our state of Jammu and Kashmir the political lexicon is even more convoluted; courtesy to the very highly disgusting regional narrative divergence on the conflict. Some speak of blood and faith only that actually needs no laborious persuasion but, contrarily, spurs a strange collective willing-submission to pain and pointlessness. Some have never spoken it to mean what actually they say and they are never ashamed of it: what a shameless brazen audacity to assure people to revoke a political blight which the politician himself has enforced. The former estranged Chief Minister should have at least considered a break to revile her decisions and self-chastise in silence before actually rallying a putrid, stinking lexicon of a simulated ideal of peace and also shamelessness. More than half of the suffering of people and nature of this political cause has drowned to non-existence and non-identity in the deceptive employment of the political lexicon by our politicians from time to time.
Recently Mr. Shah Faesal’s resignation created a stir in the state. Actually what caused him to enjoy a prolonged widespread attention and take centre-stage of the media spectacle was his wily manipulation of language to mark his entry into politics. His pre-motivated terminology and its perfect execution during his various appearances on TV channels has absolved him of many fallacies associated to his decision. In his earlier capacity he could also have better served because there was comparatively a greater scope to be honest and benefit the poor. Contrarily, however, in an essentially servile politics of Jammu and Kashmir there is no scope to bring revolutions on the pattern of truth and aspirations of the suffering majority. In beginning the likes of Muzaffar Beig and Haseeb Drabu sounded even more promising intellectually. In a typically disciplinarian enforcement of a Delhi-incubated Kashmir policy there is hardly any possibility to showcase ones personal integrity after joining politics as ones words do. People are witness to both as to how their affiliations change and how their subversive manipulation of the political lexicon actually never changes.
In this doomed place the establishment’s seemingly normal lexicon like “precautionary measure” or “call/chalo” can almost shut up everything. Ironically, the government’s safe injunction ‘precautionary measure’ means complete disruption of civil movement, the closure of schools and colleges, the suspension of internet and all the suffering these impositions bring along. The other faction’s Chalo is not any less impactful. No blood can quench the thirst of their words.
Since, the elections are coming up, this lexical euphemism is expected to get worse and hope that a sudden ‘collective epileptic blackout during elections’ does not happen to us again. It will because that is how our politics has been!
(The writer is Assistant Professor at Govt. College of Engineering and Technology, Safapora Ganderbal Email: [email protected] Courtesy: countercurrents.org)