From Bob's archive: A lexicon for our times (2007)

I'm out of the country, so as is my habit I bring you stuff from the archive. This is from August 2007, an exercise in lexicography that I have meant to expand on and never gotten around to.

1. Rococco Left
Rococo Left is a term coined by a friend of by Noga of Contentious Centrist to talk about what has also been referred to as the "Indecent Left", the part of the far left that allies itself with far right forces abroad like Ba'athism and Islamism, while converging with the far right in the West in basing its analysis on anti-american and often anti-semitic conspiracy theories, instead of an ethical concern with social justice or a materialist critique of global injustice.

Rococco Left is a good term - for those of you who don't know what Rococo means, the first image google throws up is this one of a cock and balls, which is pretty apt - basically it's overblown, decorative, baroque. The word comes from the French rocaille, or shell, and the Italian barocco, or Baroque. The Rococco Left, like a decorative shell, is empty of substance, full of bombast, devoting time to the pointless frills and forgetting the important core.

2. Arrested radicalization
This is a term which Jogo drew my attention to, used on the 9/11 Cult Watch page linked to. I think the term was coined by Chuck Munson of Infoshop. As Jogo puts it, "the term describes an intellectual process that has not been carried far enough, and that merely mimes true radicalism." A useful term!

See also: De-bunking the 9/11 movementChuck Munson on the sad decline of Indymedia.

3. Dove with claws
I take this from a post on Shagya Blog, linking to a piece in In These Times that I linked to a while back. It comes from the great Johnny Cash, talking about the Vietnam war:
This past January we took our entire show, along with my wife June, we went to Long Bien Air Force Base near Saigon.
And a reporter friend of mine asked, said, "That makes you a hawk, doesn't it?"
And I said, "No, that don't make me a hawk. No. No, that don't make me a hawk."
But I said, "If you watch the helicopters bring in the wounded boys, then you go into the wards and sing for 'em and try to do your best to cheer them up so that they can get back home, it might make you a dove with claws."
Wade Tatangelo characterises Cash's position as "anti-war/pro-soldier", which is not a bad place to be.

4. Untamed hawk
Merle Haggard takes it one step further. Asked "Do you feel like a dove with claws these days?" He replied:
How about an untamed hawk? I’m not going to be a part of the mainstream ever. I’m an American, and I think America is about differences of opinion, and it’s also about integrity and honesty and all those things. We need to gain that respect and that reputation around the world again, as well as in the middle of this country. I think the average American is in a state of confusion as to what to do or who to turn to for help.
By strange coincidence, Haggard's wonderful "I wonder if they ever think of me" has just come on my shuffle. The opening line is "There's not much a man can do inside a prison", pretty raw for the time. After lamenting the prisoner's loneliness for a couple of verses, you suddenly get this:
I wonder if they know that I'm still living
And still proud to be a part of Uncle Sam
I wonder if they think I died of hunger
In this rotten prison camp in VietNam.


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