Beware of abstract nouns!

I like the ‘Stumbling and Mumbling’ blog and its author, Chris Dillow has pointed out how, what he calls the politics of abstraction is so undermining.. Personally I’d prefer to call these problems abstract nouns. But they are broadly the same…

Thus we had the war on terror – when the only war was actually on people, which has now come to an ignominious end.

We have the ‘threat’ of immigration, not, note of immigrants, who are real people…

What about homelessness rather than homeless people, who are far less abstract?

I’m sure we could all go on…

I appreciate particularly this paragraph:

This isn’t to say that the prioritising of abstraction over ground truth is confined to the right. It’s not. In all its reports on the state of the public finances the BBC has not, as far as I know, ever interviewed a real person who has described convincingly how high government borrowing has worsened their own personal life. Fretting about the public finances is elevating an abstraction over the real lives of real people as it means devaluing the truth that austerity probably caused thousands of deaths.

Spot on.

Gaslit as ever.

Balancing the books, which we never see – and the ‘deficit’, which is always, by definition, someone’s asset – we also never see.

These are also and always ‘abstractions’, as Chris Dillow puts it.

He has made a great point – even if I’d prefer to avoid the ambiguity and go for abstract nouns…

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