Leftists have always used language to advance their agenda. The far-left radicals of the progressive movement have become masters of language manipulation, and generally speaking those on the conservative side tend to play defense. But he who controls the language controls the direction of the conversation, which is why the right is always stuck chasing after it.
When we started showing evidence against “global warming,” it was shifted to being called “climate change.” We had valid arguments against the notion of “my body, my choice,” but those arguments were made meaningless when vaccine tyranny erased them. Now, as “Critical Race Theory” is being exposed for its foundations in direct racism and principles of segregation, proponents are rebranding it as “anti-racism advocacy.”
Communist Party USA is now going after another phrase that has become an inconvenience to the radical left. “Cancel culture” has always had a negative connotation, but it persisted because leftists generally agreed with the notion of vindication and retribution against those who committed crimes of non-wokeness. Lately, there has been a shift in sentiment that has been voiced by celebrities even on the left. People like Bill Maher are speaking out, so the need to change the language has become apparent.
What’s the new term they’re pushing to replace “cancel culture”? According to a recent article, it should now be seen as “Liberation Culture.”
The article on CPUSA’s website is rife with conjecture and gaslighting. Here’s a taste:
The phrase “cancel culture” is what linguists call an “empty signifier.” It implies a lot but means nothing.
People who use the term without irony do so to inject irrational fear into discussions of culture, politics, and ethical behavior. This tactic provides a right-wing ideological cover for maintaining racist oppression, imperialism and war, class exploitation, and heteronormative patriarchy.
People who fret anxiously about “cancel culture” fear that criticisms of oppressive systems, abusive language, and hate-filled violence are really targeting them personally. These anxieties are manipulated by millionaire- and billionaire-controlled right-wing media, blog sites, and conspiracy-based organizations that stimulate panic and hatred. Their goal is to stir up as much animosity and anger in a base of right-wing supporters to either build momentum at election time or, barring electoral success, mobilize violence and threats of violence like the Jan. 6th terrorist attack or other such mob uprisings to push a tax-cutting, anti-worker, anti-woman, racist, white supremacist agenda.
“Cancel culture” is an empty signifier because it refers to nothing in reality. People who seek justice don’t want to cancel people. They do not desire to harm white people or cause all men the same pain and suffering many men have historically leveled against women. Vengeance against straight or cisgender people isn’t on anyone’s agenda. Countries targeted by U.S. imperialism don’t want war with the U.S., they want freedom to develop and determine their own futures without intervention.
The fear that the “social justice warriors” are out to get us is a hoax, and a little paranoid. It is irrational and reflects a disturbing fragility within dominant cultural values. Scholar Robin DiAngelo has observed and documented this purely emotional phenomenon in White Fragility. Indeed, palpable forms of this fragility could be perceived when tiki-torch-bearing neo-fascists marched infamously in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 brandishing Nazi salutes and chanting anti-Semitic and racist slogans that expressed a fear of being cancelled.
I won’t go through the demerits of the article as it would take more words to properly critique it than the article itself. What’s important here is that the notion that “cancel culture” needs to be rebranded as “liberation culture” has one purpose: Rejuvenating the practice by justifying its existence through virtue signaling. Again, the left has mastered language manipulation. “Liberation culture” is appealing to the collectivists on so many levels. Those who may have felt the sway of people condemning “cancel culture” can now reengage with it without guilt.
“Liberation culture” just sounds better.
Just when we think we’re getting the upper hand on denouncing one concept, the left rebrands it and starts the process up again. It’s all a charade, yet conservatives continue to let the left determine the rules of engagement through language manipulation.