The Rhetoric of C. Wright Mills

Reading The Power Elite is a joy. Mills writes with clarity, verve, and emotion. He clearly feels that something is out of kilter in American society and that social science can help to understand the problem. Alan Wolfe wrote an afterword in 2000 to praise Mills for his ability as a social scientist, but takes issue with his ability as a social critic. The first ten chapters of the book describe mid 20c American society very well, the final five chapters shift to social criticism.

Rhetoric of Markets - Consumers and Choice

Another of my favorite economic-moral connections is choice. I recently talked with a friend about health care and choice and was treated to the full-on Republican explanation that as long as people have choices they will do fine. Choice becomes the most important value and making bad choices becomes the fault of the individual. The organizations and social structures that force a particular choice are glossed over or completely ignored. It all fits into the Randian argument of the economic overman.

Borrow and Leverage - The Language of Money

Listen to the way rich people and poor people describe the same thing and you will start to understand some of the divides in this country. The financial apocalypse has brought different ways of speaking to the forefront of our media and our attention. There are many examples of linguistic difference between rich and poor. For example consider the way we use the words “leverage” and “borrow.” Let’s go the dictionary first to read the definitions.

The Enemy Within Argument

There is a certain style of argument that has been bothering me lately and I think I may finally have a name for it. It started at the beginning of this month over at Scienceblogs when the issue of framing science reared up again and created a blog tempest. Matthew Nisbet complained that critics of the anti-evolution movie Expelled were damaging their own cause by drawing too much attention to the movie.

These Horses Must Be Dead by Now

Three years ago I wrote the following about my experience at Socrate’s Cafe here in Minnesota. I stopped attending for three reasons: 1. every conversation started revolving around politics, which became tiring after the first month and 2. the conversations lacked philosophical sophistication (granted I studied philosophy in college so my standards might be higher than just anyone off the street)… What became more and more frustrating to me was that each conversation

So Sick it Makes You Laugh - Follies in Political Rhetoric

Whenever I take an interest in politics it’s usually to look at the language and rhetoric that is used to make arguments. When I see other people take an interest in the same issue I’m usually willing to read. Here are some posts on political rhetoric, all from a liberal perspective, that I’ve found interesting over the last few days. Glenn Greenwald and Dave Neiwert have been consistently good about following the eliminationist rhetoric that regularly emanates from the conservative blogosphere.

Questioning the Brights and other Atheist Shibboleths

Earlier this summer Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennet wrote some editorials praising the idea that atheists should begin to call themselves ‘brights.’ Although I’m an atheist myself I thought the whole renaming idea was rather silly. Chris Mooney has a commentary in the Washington Post and the Skeptical Inquirer detailing some of the same reasons why I think the idea is bad. He also questions some of the reflexive rejections of religion made by many atheist activists.

American Rhetoric

While looking for the long quote from “Network” that I put into the previous entry I came across a very interesting resource that I’m noting here because every once in a while I get interested in the verbal rhetoric of politicians and others. The site American Rhetoric appears to be the perfect place to find recordings and transcripts of famous speeches made by public figures and speeches taken from great movies.