The circumlocution world

Euphemism or obfuscation?

Phillipe FossierPhillipe Fossier

The modern world is a muddle. Names of things: organisations, ministries, concepts and organisations are always changing. The DTI is now the Department of BERR and the poor are no longer with us but have become the socially excluded. You find yourself thinking What's that? Only to find a word or term that you had used for a while had been replaced. Then there are all the buzz words you need to use to be part of this world such as: "best practice", "diversity", "gender", "sustainability", "community", "ethnicity", "governance", "delivery", "targeting", "orientation", "timelines", "resources", "empowerment", "renewables", "compliance" and "strategies."

It's hard to think of the words that they have replaced. A lot of the time these are new words embracing new ideas. These then require checking and evaluating. But it would be better to get rid of them entirely and the people doing the checking and evaluating and the organisations employing the people to check and evaluate. See here.

Money flows from a range of sources, is taken by another range of agencies and distributed to organisations. When the money trail is analysed as opposed to audited nothing is ever found wanting, the projects are always deemed worthy. Yet often the audit shows that problems do exist, but few people are ever prosecuted.

Our politicians seem in a similar muddle. I don't think that half the House of Commons can be lying about the Lisbon Treaty/Constitution. Can it? This constitutional treaty involves either a huge transfer of governance or is a little tidying up exercise. Both sides of this divide CANNOT be right. Our children are getting brighter and brighter and flying through their exams or they can barely read or write, what is the truth? Health service waiting lists are reducing or not. Crime is up or is it down? Unemployment is down or are more people are economically inactive? After a long time the mainstream media and the officials start to to realise that something is wrong but only several years after everyone else.

How do things work? Who is in charge of things? Where does the money come from and go to? It's very hard to work out and deliberately so. We have local and central government which are elected and then the shady, secretive world of all the unelected organisations: the EU , Regional Assemblies, NDPBs, QUANGOs, neighbourhood forums, NGOs, charities and all the related committees, advisory bodies and liaison groups that they foster.
Robert MusilRobert Musil
The book by Robert Musil called The Man Without Qualities shows us that this is not a recent phenomenon and that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was eerily similar to the EU. Quote from the Marcel Proust blogspot:

More than most long and complex novels, The Man Without Qualities resists being summarized. Far from coming together to form a coherent plot, the book's diverse incidents become increasingly more disparate and fragmented as the novel unfolds. Indeed, the inability of separate stories, motifs and perspectives to coalesce into a meaningful pattern is one of Musil's major themes. The Man Without Qualities may be understood as a series of events in search of a plot, just as the Habsburg Empire itself is shown as a haphazard political amalgam engaged in a hopeless search for some unifying meaning or identity. The most satiric parts of Musil's novel describe a world in stasis or in a self-perpetuating muddle, rather than on the verge of disintegration. The Habsburg Empire that we actually are shown could just as easily have lasted for many years more.

The Council of Ministers, The European Council, The Council of Europe are haphazard political amalgams engaged in a hopeless search for some unifying meaning or identity. I dare you to compare and contrast them. Then there is UNECE , EEA and so it goes on and on and on .......... Some of the websites are awe-inspiring in their complexity, repetitiveness, garrulity and strange use of language. Never, ever is there a précis in plain English. The aim is clear. They say that we, the plebs, are too thick to understand the complexity of it all; we say that life's too short and couldn't bring ourselves to join in. So they're in charge.

Newspeak should go. There will be much wailing amongst the bureaucrats and their staff, much middle class unemployment but the pared down version would provide clear, comprehensible information about what is being done. The extra people could then either join the 'economically inactive' or do something useful like sweeping streets, caring for the elderly (there would be lots of spare money to pay good wages) and, dare I say it, we could even make or mend things again.
man on a 
Clapham omnibusman on a Clapham omnibus
I apologise for anything that may have offended anyone in the EU because:

"Criticism of the European Union is akin to blasphemy and could be restricted without violating
freedom of speech,"
- Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice (in case C-274/99)