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“Make America Great Again” is Newspeak.

“Make America Great Again” is Newspeak. published on 2 Comments on “Make America Great Again” is Newspeak.

You’ve seen the clip from The Newsroom. Or maybe you haven’t. Here.



It’s a good speech, but there’s an insidious implication behind it, and it’s the same implication behind the phrase “Make America Great Again,” or MAGA, as the nationalists over on /r/the_donald put it.

At the heart of what makes the phrase problematic is this question: in what decade was America great?

Was it the 00s, when the Patriot Act started us down a road toward becoming a police state?

Was it the 90s, when the mass incarceration of blacks picked up in serious?

The 80s, with the failed experiment of Reagonomics and the cold war?

Go down decade by decade and you find more of the building blocks that got us to our present situation. So when someone says they want to “Make America Great Again,” what are they actually saying? If we’re looking at reddit’s Trump supporters, then we’ve got to accept that this population is mostly a migration from 4chan, and that it’s inherited those racist undertones. And overtones. And midtones. Great America was segregated America and Slave America to those folks, but their opinion doesn’t matter. There are non-racist Trump supporters who also fling MAGA around. (There are almost certainly no anti-racist Trump supporters, but rather, Trump supporters who have no vested interest that they’re aware of in actively participating in racial oppression.)

So what greatness are the people who aren’t actually saying MAGA as a way of saying “Make America White Again” hoping to return America to? There’s a rosy-eyed view of the decades sandwiching World War II as a beacon of freedom, but that deliberately ignores that the good things included a massive tax rate on US corporations, that there was a goddamn reason people called Reagan “the Teflon president,” and that we had a sorry propensity to assassinate leaders that threatened the every entrenching establishment.

There was never an overall American golden age. Claiming that there was gives power to historical revisionists who have vested interests in lopsided distributions of power.

So what does MAGA mean?

Nothing. It’s crowdsourced Orwellian newspeak that locks people onto the highly charged emotional raillines that make supporting Donald Trump feel good. “Great” has no real definition, and “again” refers to no concrete point in time. The call to action itself is even devoid of meaning; “make” in the imperative voice here asks people to return to a time that didn’t exist and to perform an empty set. This is the actual definition of newspeak. It is blackwhite designed to trigger bellyfeel.


While I’m not a Trump supporter. (I desperately hope we primary the guy,) I’d like to weigh in.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, when America was a manufacturing powerhouse. And when the US could pretty much dictate the foreign policy of other countries.
While the second is terrible, the first would be a nice return.
It won’t happen so long as it’s cheaper to make things in China, or Malaysia, though. About the only way it could happen is if America got the patent on some new development that the rest of the world would sell themselves (back) into poverty to have.
Unfortunately, for us, cars are made all over. Oil is currently king in the middle east more so than Texas. Chips are made in places as varied as Ireland and Singapore. And even Hollywood is starting to lose ground to Bollywood.

For further reference, the UK was once where we were. They had laws that restricted the export of designs for their industrial equipment…then Slater memorized how a mill was put together and copied it in New England. They had laws forbidding local manufacture of salt…then Gandhi led a procession to violate that law on the coast of India.

Incidentally, Patent means a granted right, restricted to others. The modern invention Patent is the exclusive right to the use of a design for a set period of time in exchange for making the workings known so others can reproduce that work, and improve upon it, without having to reinvent or reverse engineer it.

I suppose we could create a policy of dropping a bunker buster, or a “Rod from God”, on any chipfab that’s not in the US. Those things are expensive.
Although. Perhaps not for much longer.

Perhaps our future wealth is in our own landfills. I will celebrate when nanofabs let us make everything new again. (However, by then, a patent will probably be for life plus 70 years…)

Thanks for your comment! Sorry for not replying to it sooner; I’ve had a tooth pulled since you wrote it, and I’ve been doing a bit of a balancing act since then.

My sincere hope is that we are looking at a future where being a manufacturing powerhouse is not what is required to be a first-world country, or to maintain our level of national wealth. That said, futures that do not involve these things involve socializing gains, not risks, and U.S. politics hate popular functions of power that do this — welfare, medicare, medicaid, public highways, public school, all of which are wildly popular programs (to the point that many of us can’t see a world without them) are all under constant attack in our system. It’s very easy to see these programs as problematic, too, I think, when their costs are immediate and their payouts are eventual.

But at the end of the day, these are the things that led to us being a first world country, and while capitalism kept the grocery stores full, it was socialism that kept the populace educated enough to produce the scientists that fought off the dust bowl, and it was regulation that kept the snake-oil salesmen at bay. And as the wealth aggregated at the very top, the capitalists began to see less and less of a need for the other two, I’d argue, critical aspects of what made the American economy so robust and so powerful.

I’d welcome a return of manufacture, but not at the cost of breathable air, minimum wage, labor laws, pollution regulations, etc. And so the corporations take their business to lawless third world countries.

I think the answer is in raising everyone else to the level of our eye, rather than lowering ourselves to the lowest common denominators. (Not that I think that’s what you were saying!)

And yes, I think you’re right — we’re going to get a lot of value from landfills. And from solar, I think, too, and wind power. The future is bright, as long as we can get our elections under control, and to a point where it’s not a constant game of keeping mad men out of power.

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