-- / --
As indicated by the following argument, those disseminating this declaration might be advised to make the conventional use of asterisks to render the title (and content) more acceptable to web search engines
Half of the supporters of Donald Trump have been labelled by Hillary Clinton as a "basket of deplorables" (How deplorable are Trump supporters? The Economist, 13 September 2016). In the emphatic language favoured by many of them, what is the "fucking problem" of current governance? Understood otherwise, however, does global governance indeed have a "fucking problem"? Might that in some way be unconsciously recognized through such deplorably widespread use of "fuck" and "shit" -- behind the "closed doors" of decision-making contexts (as well as in "locker rooms")? Ironically use of such expressions by Clinton has been widely reported (Aryssa Damron, Hillary's Foul Language Is Deplorable, Townhall, 11 October 2016).
Why does such emphasis and focus in private not inform the drearily repetitive public discourse, with its usage so severely condemned as inappropriate, foul and uncouth -- if not crass and undignified, as in the case of Trump (Mark Hensch, Trump on foul language: 'I'll never do it again', The Hill, 12 February 2016)? Is the current condition of global civilization not usefully described as "bad", "disgusting", "foul" and "uncouth"?
The US presidential debate of 2016, recognized as crucial for both that country and the world, therefore features protagonists who privately make extensive use of "foul language" in their efforts to achieve their political ambitions. Curiously, but potentially of great significance, public use of such language is specifically condemned by the legislation of the country of which they are competing to be president -- a country widely criticized for its abuse of human rights in the USA and around the world.
Is the failure of public discourse to engage effectively with the "fucking problem" of society indicated by highly constrained ability to recognize the missing dimensions in that discourse -- ironically well indicated by occasional use of asterisks in "f***" or "sh*t" -- as symbols of the ineffectual? Will the disastrous collapse of civilizaton, currently anticipated as World War III, be marked by a high order of political correctness -- ignoring language favoured by many of the disempowered "deplorables" who have most to lose?
There is a tragic naivety to the belief that political correctness is appropriate to a global condition in which every convention of human rights is being systematically abused in countries and cultures of every kind.
An experiment of this nature first appeared 45 years ago as Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (International Associations / Associations Internationales, 23, 1, 1971, pp. 13-26 [PDF version]). That involved the generation of three parallel sets of rights in addition to the pattern of the original UN Declaration of 1948:
It is difficult to argue that the original individual rights have done more than mitigate to a questionable degree their increasing abuse throughout the world -- especially in the light of the numbers exposed to such abuse through the massive increase in the global population since that time. In the words of Shakespeare, such rights have been More honor'd in the breach than the observance. This applies as much to the rights of collectives, disciplines and roles, as speculatively articulated subsequently.
It could be said that pious "human rights discourse" has now become the "discourse of pretence". Of the latter John Michael Greer notes:
Eras of pretense are by no means limited to the decline and fall of civilizations. They occur whenever political, economic, or social arrangements no longer work, but the immediate costs of admitting that those arrangements don't work loom considerably larger in the collective imagination than the future costs of leaving those arrangements in place. It's a curious but consistent wrinkle of human psychology that this happens even if those future costs soar right off the scale of frightfulness and lethality; if the people who would have to pay the immediate costs don't want to do so, in fact, they will reliably and cheerfully pursue policies that lead straight to their own total bankruptcy or violent extermination, and never let themselves notice where they're headed. (The Era of Pretense, Resilience, 14 May 2015)
Key countries are now seeking to withdraw from (or ignore) human rights conventions (Andrej Stefanovic, Britain's withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, Politheor: European Policy Network, 11 July 2016). Should human rights discourse (together with the conventions of political correctness) now be seen as framing an unrealistic construct -- one out of touch with the reality in which people are obliged to live? Perhaps to be understood as a reality created and sustained by fiat -- and under the guise of which questionable agendas are pursued "under the table", notably using "dirty tricks"? Is this consistent with the rise in populism and the sense for many that current governance is effectively "fucking with them"? What proportion of them would subscribe to a slogan of the form: Don't fuck with me?
Further consideration of such issues merits reflection in the light of rape in antiquity in the cultures which engendered democracy but which also enabled rape in wartime, even as a right of soldiers (Susan Deacy and Karen Pierce (Eds), Rape in Antiquity: sexual violence in the Greek and Roman worlds, 1997). The continuing relevance of the mindset is evident from sexual assault in the United States military, as but one example. Another is provided by the incidence of child sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in addition to abuse of women (Carlyn van der Mark, Sexual exploitation and UN peacekeepers: why the problem continues to persist, 2012). Any "civilizing" impulse would appear to involve a degree of ambiguity, as explored separately (Flowering of Civilization -- Deflowering of Culture, 2014).
In seeking to engage in a new way with the global problematique of a civilization in crisis, the following articulation is necessarily understood as a far more radical development of the original experiment. Rather than the positive articulation of "rights", paradoxically a negative framing of "fucking rights" may prove more fruitfully communicable, as separately argued (Liberating Provocations: use of negative and paradoxical strategies, 2005).
Collective inability to engage effectively with a process in which many are variously complicit may constitute the primary symptom of the ineffectual nature of global governance. In formal public discourse, why is it only possible to refer to sexual intercourse through an array of euphemisms -- if at all (Jim Goad, 400 Euphemisms for Sexual Intercourse, Thought Catalog, 31 December 2014)?
The need for such reframing can be argued with respect to the following (which might otherwise be featured as a "preamble" to the adapted declaration):
The parallels with the societal issues of corruption, tax evasion, crime, breach of confidence, drug abuse, blasphemy, pornography and obscenity are discussed below. Each of these is variously practiced by many -- although plausibly deniable -- whilst many are complicit in that practice to some degree.
Article 30 is the key to the interpretation of the original Declaration of 1948: Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Through the adaptation of that Article here, this experiment appropriately evokes the complex of connotations ambiguously associated with "fucking". These range from the valued existential experience of consummation through to the forms of irresponsible abuse associated with "fucking" and "being fucked". That Article therefore both challenges insensitive response and recognizes the neglected problematic consequences of ill-considered exercise of fucking rights. It leaves ambiguous whether the wording should be "fucking rights" or "right to fucking".
A fundamental weakness of the Declaration of 1948 is that it makes no provision whatsoever for constraint on the exercise of rights under problematic circumstances. Hence the past initiative for a complementary Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (discussed below).
For this adaptation, however, Article 30 frames a necessary constraint on ambiguity of interpretation with respect to conditions in which the outcome may fatally strain resources. This is only too evident at this time amongst the most impoverished in a society that has clearly lost the ability to cope -- and is fucking unable to admit it. The point can be emphasized otherwise (Resource Insights from Plus or Minus 12 People on a Liferaft: thought experiment to highlight global dilemmas in a comprehensible context, 2014).
In that spirit, the text of the following Declaration also benefits from widespread use of "fucking" in public discourse as a form of guarantee of the existential authenticity increasingly absent from formal discourse. Just as the language of rap conveys a sense of engagement, with or without reference to "fucking", the following could be understood as a necessary adaptation of ineffectual "rights discourse" into a language of emphasis of more fundamental experiential significance.
[In the following adaptation of the Declaration of 1948, the original text is appended in italics under the subheading "Individual". The adaptation is presented under the subheading "Intercourse". The opportunity has been taken to modify occasional biased gender references -- but in the adaptation only]
Unsaid: In a world increasingly recognizing the degree of previously denied global surveillance and secrecy, with all their implications, the more general issue is how to engage with the "unsaid", the "non-dit", and severe loss of confidence in individual and institutional integrity (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003). "Fucking", and reference to it, is supposedly acceptably undertaken only in private; any public implication, whether physical or metaphorical, is conventionally held to be unacceptable. It is little wonder that its implications for population increase are kept "off the table" of strategic discourse -- as a matter for "under the table" intercourse.
Aside from the reality of sexual proclivities, the matter is increasingly highlighted by the seemingly unrelated issues of: corruption, tax evasion, organized crime, drug abuse, breach of confidence, blasphemy and obscenity, pornography, human trafficking, and sexual slavery.
Society has been exceptionally tardy in publicly acknowledging the current extent of each of these and of endeavouring to respond effectively to them. All have proven to be a focus of plausible deniability and impunity. All of these are now variously reframed as acceptable in practice, however much they may be deplored in principle. The recently elected president of the Philippines has openly undertaken a program of massive targeted killing -- arousing only token condemnation from the international community. In an interview with Al Jazeera he specifically indicated that he could "not give a shit" about human rights -- when he had an obligation to protect future generations from aggressive drug pushers.
In an editorial reaction to the US presidential debate, The Economist asks:
How do people learn to accept what they once found unacceptable?... By normalising attitudes that, before he came along, were publicly taboo, Mr Trump has taken a knuckle-duster to American political culture.... Mercifully, America is not about to riot on November 9th. But the reasons have less to do with the state's power to enforce the letter of the law than with the unwritten rules that American democracy thrives on. (The debasing of American politics, 15 October 2016) [emphasis added]
To what extent is it these "unwritten rules" which are ensuring the inability to engage effectively with global governance? Is global civilization now characterized by a dangerous form of omerta?
The tragic case of Alan Turing offers a range of relevant insights, in the light of his renowned contribution to allied success in World War II and the inspiration this subsequently offered to computer development worldwide. Convicted for indecency for his homosexuality, his sentence included the option of chemical castration, which resulted in his subsequent suicide in 1954. The relevant UK law was only repealed in 1967 following some 49,000 such convictions. On 24 December 2013, Queen Elizabeth II signed a pardon under a royal prerogative of mercy.
The UK has been witness to several controversial proposals for an "Alan Turing law", an amnesty law to retroactively pardon men who had been cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts ('Alan Turing law' unveiled by government will posthumously pardon thousands of gay men convicted of historic offence, The Independent, 20 October 2016; The 'Alan Turing Law' isn't the amazing step you think it is, The Independent, 21 October 2016). It remains unknown, however, what proportion of legislators responsible for instituting and upholding the original law had themselves been buggered by seniors in public school or buggered others on achieving seniority -- or subsequently engaged secretly in sexual abuse of women or minors (as variously indicated by those who bear witness).
Each of the above issues implies action disrespectful of social norms as upheld by convention. It is in this sense that they may be compared to fornication. Understood as consensual sexual intercourse between people outside the framework of marriage, the term carries an overtone of moral or religious disapproval (living in sin), but its significance varies between religions, societies and cultures. As a technical term, fornication can however also be readily seen to be dissociated from the experience and practice of "fucking" with all that that implies -- irrespective of definitional technicalities and game-playing regarding infringement of convention.
Conflating breaches of convention: As a breach of convention, each of the above issues is deprecated in principle and variously subject to sanction -- possibly of the severest form (as with the case of adultery in some cultures). The argument here suggests that there is a social reality and dynamic, through which global crisis is being engendered, that is not effectively encompassed by the conventional elaboration of definitions protective of disparate vested interests. The expression "fucking" is a commonly recognized coded reference to this reality -- however distorted the perspective.
The need for more explicit acknowledgement of this reality is the primary justification for this experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The central challenge would appear to be the confusion resulting from what are considered to be infringements of convention. The problematic responses to the unsavoury issues of corruption, tax avoidance, pornography and blasphemy have been conflated with that relating to the process by which ever more people are engendered -- in a world proving itself ever more unable to cope, whatever the possibilities in principle of doing so. The knee-jerk efforts at so-called cover-up in these instances are extended unfortunately, most notably through use of euphemism, to the processes of intercourse -- more significantly and pertinently recognized by "fucking".
Fooling ourselves? That sanctions (even legislative sanctions) govern reference to "fucking" is consistent with the incapacity to engage with that reality in strategic terms. This inhibits recognition of the consequences for unmanageable population increase, or other problematic conditions of society -- preferably framed by positive euphemisms (Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, 2009; Smile Or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World, 2010).
When its values are otherwise so severely challenged, how appropriate is the relevant Biblical injunction to the current condition of society: Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29, New Living Translation).
The dilemma is highlighted from a religious perspective, as argued by Robert Berendt: The world around us is full of filthy language, and it's easy to become indifferent to it all, but God wants us to take a different viewpoint toward the words that come out of our mouths (Foul Language, Beyond Today, 6 July 2006). Given the important Christian dimension to the election of the leader of the world's superpower, and the use of foul language by the protagonists (as noted above), the question can be asked otherwise (Kelli Mahoney, Should Christians be Using Foul Language? About Religion, 31 January 2016).
Issues of divinity also highlight the curiously unexamined confusion between the divine right of kings (and presidents?) and problematic assumptions regarding any droit du seigneur -- with both translating into problematic issues of sexual abuse by clergy, gurus, employers, and the military.
Intercourse? Given the inspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it could well be argued that this experiment would have conformed more appropriately to the requirements of political correctness through use of the term "intercourse" instead of "fucking". This is especially the case since use of the latter term in the media and in web documents may well be subjected to the severest censorship -- to the point of being signalled as an error in some spell check applications. As implied above, political correctness can however be manipulativly used as a fig leaf to denature official recognition of abuse and structural violence.
"Intercourse" has been explored in another context in relation to efforts by the InterAction Council in 1997 (as amended in 1998) to elaborate a draft Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, for consideration by the United Nations as a complement to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). In a reaction to it, the UN approved a Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (53/144, 9 December 1998).
Following the methodology adopted here, that proposal of 1998 was adapted to produce a Universal Declaration of Responsibilities of Human Intercourse (2007). The neutrality of "intercourse", as a euphemism or a metaphor, is otherwise valued for its wider implications, as highlighted separately ("Human Intercourse": "Intercourse with Nature" and "Intercourse with the Other", 2007). Unfortunately this same neutrality renders the result innocuous and ineffectual at a time when a more radical approach is required by the crisis. Use of "fornication", whilst acceptable to the media (although somewhat archaic) is of limited relevance since it is primarily associated with "fucking" outside the marital framework -- itself radically called into question at this time.
Swearing: Condemned as "profanity", the publications daring to explore the implications of "fucking" are relatively rare and confined to particular cultures (see references below). The extensive Wikipedia article on "fuck" is a notable exception, as with its entry on the documentary on use of the word (Fuck, 2005), and on the study by Christopher M. Fairman (Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties, 2009).
Given its widespread use at all levels of society, the increasingly outdated attitude to use of "fucking" has been clarified by a recent study from the perspective of cognitive science by Benjamin Bergen (What the F: what swearing reveals about our language, our brains, and ourselves, 2016)? The latter makes the points:
Nearly everyone swears -- whether it's over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto. And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books. We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we'll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep. Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny.
The title of that book, using "F", is consistent with media practice in avoiding sanction and censorship -- as necessarily with use of "F***" in reviews of that book by the more daring. Clearly there are boundaries that can only be challenged with difficulty, if books and reviews are to be ensured. In its review of that book, The Economist notes:
The [US] Federal Communications Commission may warn or even impose six-figure penalties on a broadcaster that allows even a "fleeting" expletive on air, as when Bono, a singer, told an awards-show audience that winning was "fucking brilliant". A mother in South Carolina was arrested for shouting "Stop squishing the fucking bread!" at her family... A North Augusta city ordinance includes in its definition of disorderly conduct "any bawdy, lewd or obscene words... while in a state of anger, in the presence of another". (Weapons of Crass Construction: most swearing is perfectly harmless, 8 October 2016)
Given that context, however, it is as yet unclear whether legal action will be taken against those disseminating the much-publicised Trump video -- with all its offensive language and allusions.
Media guidelines: Exceptionally, the issue has been reviewed by a liberal newspaper, specifically with regard to relevant editorial guidelines for use of "fuck" -- indicating its preference for using it primarily when quoting others. It offers comparative data on its usage by other UK media (David Marsh, Is there too much swearing in the Guardian? The Guardian, 14 April 2010). The latter cites Charlotte Brontë (author of Jane Eyre):
The practice of hinting by single letters those expletives with which profane and violent people are wont to garnish their discourse, strikes me as a proceeding which, however well meant, is weak and futile. I cannot tell what good it does -- what feeling it spares -- what horror it conceals.
Framed in terms of "strong language" by the BBC, this is understood as language that has the potential to offend (Strong Language: guidance in full, BBC). This extensive commentary indicates that the strongest language, with the potential to cause most offence, includes "fuck", and is subject to mandatory referrals to "Output Controllers" (presumably with no pun being intended). The guidelines for BBC's Channel 4 offer the additional insight that such language should not be used before the "9 pm watershed". Further comment framing the BBC's perspective is offered by philosopher David Edmonds (Why do people swear? BBC News, 27 February 2017) . Wikipedia offers a commentary on Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television (1972) -- including "fuck".
This raises the question as to the requisite strength of language in framing and responding to the crises of civilization -- and how efforts might be made to constrain its usage in favour of "weaker language" -- or even of "enfeebled language". Is it possibly the case that it is "weak language" -- as preferred by the United Nations -- that is currently undermining effective collective response?
"Go fuck yourself"? What significance should be attached to this common expression in swearing -- an injunction in various languages and at every level of society? As a seemingly impossible exercise in physical contortion, is it a metaphorical indication of a degree of self-reflexivity which is a challenge for a society in crisis?
The possibility could be related to the arguments of Hilary Lawson (Closure: A Story of Everything, 2001; Reflexivity: The Post-Modern Predicament, 1985) and Douglas Hofstadter (I Am a Strange Loop, 2007). The challenge of collective self-reflexivity and self-awareness might well be fruitfully reframed in such terms (Sustaining a Community of Strange Loops, 2010), notably in the light of cybernetic feedback of a higher order. Beyond the increasing acceptability of reference to masturbation, the explosion of enthusiam for "selfies" may be heralding such a transformation of awareness.
Fucking the future? It is curious that verbal use of "fuck" (and related terms) is governed and strictly sanctioned by convention, although such sanction only extends to a limited degree to the physical process it indicates -- when non-consensual.
However, other than through the conventions of marriage (increasingly bypassed or themselves abused), there is no oversight or sanction with regard to the fucking which so problematically exacerbates governance of society through the increasing numbers so casually engendered. The challenge to coping capacity and resources, and the increasing unrest, will condemn this unconstrained period as inhumane in the eyes of the future. The systemically requisite constraint is being inadvertently transformed into fatalities from violence, starvation and disease.
As short-termism, the focus on immediate benefits is considered increasingly questionable (Roger L. Martin, Yes, Short-Termism Really Is a Problem, Harvard Business Review, 9 October 2015; Joe Biden, How Short-termism Saps the Economy, The Wall Street Journal, 27 September 2016). Reminiscent of the one-night stands that many favour, many governments and businesses can be recognized as arrogating to themselves the right to "fuck the future". They effectively subscribe to the principle: Focus on the next business cycle -- or election -- and fuck the future.
The attitude is otherwise reflected in various song lyrics (Fuck the Future), echoed in lyrics with respect to past (Fuck the Past) which are temporarily held on YouTube, for example, prior to their removal following protext. Framing the past in this way, recalls concerns at the problematic erosion of collective memory through destruction of cultural heritage and the shredding of archives (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory, 1980). The framing of the Holocaust as a "detail of history", is echoed by cultivated forgetfullness of other horrors perpetrated in recent centuries -- by nations now self-righteously condemning others for similar acts in the current period.
Foul language and befouling the environment: Otherwise celebrated as the intimate process whereby people are engendered, the conflation of fucking with foul language is especially relevant to the inability to encompass the problems of society -- readily acknowledged as increasingly "foul" and "bad" in their own right.
The issue is especially significant in the use of the media for purposes of negative campaigning to crush opponents, framing enenies as essentially "foul" and worthy of elimination -- "whether by fair means or foul".
Institutionalised shunning precludes research on the relation between fucking and the desperate quest for aphrodisiacs -- so fundamental to endangering wildlife. Equally beyond discussion is the complex of associations between the overriding attraction of genitalia (as intensively cultivated by advertising) and the foulness of the physically proximate source of excreta. One controversial example of such cultivation is the designer brand name FCUK of French Connection (Rebecca Gonsalves, FCUK: The logo that became a no no, The Independent, 2 May 2012). A sense of this proximity is offered by an argument critical of Donald Trump, by Will Self (Donald Trump is a giant fatberg blocking the political sewer -- but holding our noses will not help, New Statesman, 17 October 2016):
Back in the early 1950s, when the terms of British political debate were defined by the so-called activators, who sought to rebuild the nation in one ideological image or another, the term "admass" was coined to describe that proportion of the population judged susceptible to the siren song of advertising. It is the members of this admass who have created the fatberg: a faecal-spatial analogue of their credulousness.
The wider implications of ever increasing numbers for the production of ever more waste are similarly shunned -- despite the dramatic evidence of marine waste and emergence of the Great Pacific garbage patch. With respect to systematic befouling of the environment, the negligence of science with respect to waste disposal around Antarctic research stations has been striking. The pattern is echoed in the case of space junk in orbit, and increasingly on other planets. "Fucking with reality", as variously recognized, merits exploration as the fundamental process of science (Beyond Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual harassment as a metaphor, 1996).
The human strategic drama is further highlighted by the manner in which human waste offers the primary association for use of perhaps the most common "dirty word" -- punished at an early age by washing out the mouth with soap. Its embodiment in metaphor is also indicative of the challengs of a civilization blinded by euphemism (Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, 2005; Aaron James, Assholes: A Theory, 2014; Viable Global Governance through Bullfighting, 2009).
Is there a strange and paradoxical ambiguity to governance suggested by the ambiguity of key terms and the manner in which they are paired?
The reference to human biological waste, and its primary source, calls into question the dependence on "analysis" in framing problems -- with the conventional requirement that they be "analyzed" before they can be addressed effectively. It is from "analysts" that insightful clarification of the the challenges of governance is expected? Is the association with the "anal" completlely fortuitous or are there unexplored associations characteristic of the insights of psychoanalysis? What of root cause analysis? In symbolic terms, what of the strange juxtaposition of "anal" and "isis"? As an imaginative force, the latter figures both in the influential role of Isis as a goddess in the mythological pantheon of Egypt (Helena Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, 1877), and as the ISIS framed as the primary current source of threat in the Global War on Terrorism.
And what of the complementary "synthesis", as variously understood? Are there any questionable associations from juxtaposition of "sin" and "thesis"?
There is an inherent irony to abhorrence of "swearing" and use of "oaths" in that these terms feature in the most symbolic social processes characteristic of the most solemn binding contracts -- "oath making" and "swearing in" -- as with an oath of office, as at any presidential inauguration. Typically there may be an obligation to swear on the Bible (or any other holy book) -- prior to testifying in court proceedings. An oath of allegiance may be required. The irony and ambiguity extend to use of "fucking".
In that regard, more curious is the fundamental nature of the ambiguity their connotations share with "sanction" (authorization contrasting with punishment) and oversight (surveillance contrasting with negligence). Their interplay in governance merits the most careful attention in the light of that ambiguity and its characteristic exploitation. Of less relevance is the ambiguity of expletive (syntactic use contrasting with profanity) and cursing (simple profanity contrasting with malediction).
With respect to such ambiguity, are many abuses tacitly sanctioned by government and other authorities? Are many government oversight functions effectively negligent, whether inadvertently or by design?
Perhaps even more significant for governance, such ambiguity is apparent in use of "offence" and "defence", and in their interplay. Clearly use of "fuck" is offensive to many and may well be considered an offence in law. Criticism of such use may evoke a defensive response. Curiously however there is little sense that an institution responsible for defence -- a Department of Defense, or a Ministry of Defence -- may be inherently defensive in its reactions, or characterized problematically by that tendency. Such institutions may both cause offence (by their very existence and mode of action) and undertake actions perceived as strategically "offensive" -- whether such offensive aggression is understood as being to ensure peace or in furtherance of other agendas.
More intriguing is the potential role of a "Ministry of Offence" (or a "Department of Offense") understood as being necessarily offensive -- as may necessarily follow from the disruption it instigates to conventional habits resistant to social change and transformation. It could fruitfully explore public perceptions of government offensiveness -- especially when framed militarily as "fucking other countries". It would, for example, call into question misunderstanding of the offence associated with "fucking" and the nature of its offensiveness. Of course its very existence would necessarily be offensive to some, whilst recognized as essential to others, even from a cybernetic perspective: no pain no gain.
Could the art of governance be explored in terms of striking a balance between being defensive and being offensive -- not only to others elsewhere but to citizens of the homeland? What forms might government offensiveness usefully take as perceived by its citizens? Is it through "public relations" that any defensiveness in that regard is best reframed?
A similar approach might be speculatively envisaged with respect to a State Department (or a Foreign Office). In the first case, a "Dynamics Department" would call into question the tendency of a State Department to reinforce the status quo -- in framing the nature of that state by fiat, by "stating" it (as with the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). In the second case, an "Office of Otherness" would call into question the implied framing of otherness as essentially alien and a potential threat -- or a "fucking opportunity" for dominance in quest of hegemony, as may be variously discussed (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others, 2009; Embodying Global Hegemony through a Sustaining Pattern of Discourse, 2015). Of course a "foreign" office would naturally be the context in which values contrary to those upheld by the homeland would be surreptitiously cultivated and pursued -- perhaps cynically as being for the greater good, as with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The approach can be taken further with respect to a Ministry of Finance (or a Department of the Treasury), understood as managing public finance and confidence therein -- through the monetary tokens by which it is represented. Etymologically "finance" derives from a sense of ending (fin in French), whether satisfactory or implying retribution. Clearly "treasury" derives from treasure, namely that which is held to be of greatest value. However the association of finance to "fine" (fin in Old French) echoes the implication "of higher quality". These senses do little to distinguish finance from the depths of corruption with which the monetary system variables enables -- nor the fine which may be applied as a penalty. The role of such institutions implies both the power of sanction and oversight, thereby entangled with their ambiguity (as noted above).
The financial crisis of 2008 is readily described as a consequence of vested interests "fucking with the system", entailing a breach of confidence and an erosion of trust. Within a system dependent on mutual confidence, how is "investment", understood in economic terms, to be compared with the "vestment" of interests -- presumably especially associated with an unusual resistance to change? How is this to be related to the so-called attention economy (Investing Attention Essential to Viable Growth, 2014)?
Within that economy, swearing, and especially "fucking", can be understood as constituting a common currency -- intrinsic as tokens of confidence to some forms of communication. The trickery of 2008 is then to be understood more generally as an instance of confidence trickery (and "dirty tricks"), one also readily recognized as associated with "fucking". Use of "fucking", experienced as an offensive breach of convention, can also be interpreted as a breach of trust and mutuality.
The point is appropriately illustrated by a cover of The Economist at that time (Oh Fuck! -- The Economist Cover: September 2008, AdLand, 3 October 2008; Ben Popken, The Economist Sums Up Financial Crisis: "Oh Fuck!", Consumerist, 6 October 2008). Although reproductions went viral, the possibility that it was a fake has not been clarified. Given what it stands for in enabling the crisis, there is a reasonable probability that the originator was "fucking" with The Economist.
Would the mandate of a Ministry of Finance be better understood if framed as a "Ministry of Confidence" -- by whatever tokens it was recognized? Implicit in the argument is the specualtive possibility that "con" may prove to to be fundamental to a new understanding of currency (Primary Global Reserve Currency: the Con? Cognitive implications of a prefix for sustainable confidelity, 2011; Enabling Moral Currency Circulation: reframing a stimulus package to avert moral bankruptcy, 2010).
Given current critical reference to "locker room talk", ambiguity is especially evident in sport through use of "score" and "scoring". On the one hand these are the focus of many sports -- and metaphorically through progress towards political goals and approval, as may be registered daily by opinion polls (Kerry Wills, Scoring Project Goals: a soccer metaphor, Project Times, 5 July 2011). However, on the other hand, such terms are also common descriptors of "fucking" (Baseball metaphors for sex; Carly Dreyfus, To Slide or to Slice? Finding a Positive Sexual Metaphor, Scarlateen, 4 May 2009).
Despite every effort to disassociate sexual intercourse from sport, the focus on scoring in many sports suggests that it may be understood as a surrogate for "fucking", as may be further explored speculatively (The-O Ring and The Bull Ring as Spectacular Archetypes: dramatic correlation of theatre, theory, theorem, theology, and theosophy, 2014).
If various ball sports are indeed consciously or unconsciously associated with the processes of "fucking", there is a case for exploration of the symbolism through which this is publicly acknowledged to some degree -- if not assertively.
It is not so long ago that it was a male fashion in high society to wear a codpiece. This was a covering flap or pouch that attached to the front of the crotch of men's trousers in order to accentuates the genital area -- much as is now the function of the bra for women (Stephen Smith, Me and my codpiece, BBC News, 17 March 2014; Bringing Back the Codpiece, The Art of Manliness, April 2014; What goes up must come down: a brief history of the codpiece, 30 April 2015). Equivalents to the codpiece are occasionally to be found in some indigenous cultures and in some subcultures of developed societies, where variants of the jock strap are valued.
Arguably the historical importance of the codpiece can be understood as having morphed into the subsequent role of the necktie as a phallic symbol, as suggested speculatively by various authors (Scott Heydt, The Necktie That Binds Us: why, oh why, does a man wear a tie? 20 June 2014). The significance is succinctly described in satirical terms by Fedwa Malti-Douglas, Professor of Humanities at Indiana University:
I have for many years been fascinated by the tie as social and cultural phenomenon. Why is it of all male dress the item that gets imported least to women? Sure, we see women once in a while wearing ties. Sure, there are some foolhardy designers who will propose this item for a feminine market. But, notice... that this vestimentary item has never taken off with the female population. ... Why is this? Clearly, there are deeper cultural reasons for the instability of ties among women.... the tie is a stand-in for the male sexual organ!.... The tie is a surrogate penis... Why else would a tie hang from a man's neck the way his sexual organ hangs from his body? Let us be grateful, gentlemen, for the inventor of the tie. After all, what would you all have done had he (for I firmly believe it was a 'he') decided to starch the tie and prop it from the shirt in a fully erect position?... The male is no different from the female. He also likes to parade in public with a full physical display. And since we do not permit ourselves the luxury of walking nude and flaunting our bodies, what is the male of the species to do? Simple. He dons a surrogate penis. And placing it around the neck is but a subterfuge... [a] public penis. (Extract from: Hisland: Adventures in Ac-Ac-ademe, SUNY Press, 1998, pp. 93-94)
Originating in India, the palad khik (meaning "honourable surrogate penis") is an amulet shaped like a penis, varying from small in size to very large. They are usually worn by males on a cord around their waist under the clothes and off-center from the real penis. It is not unusual for a male to wear many at the same time. In Thailand, women may carry one in their purses to protect them from rape and mugging -- much as people in other coutries may carry a can of pepper spray.
Is it possible that male symbolism associated with "fucking" has somehow "migrated" upward from the codpiece, through the necktie, to the headgear? Are equivalent symbolic dynamics to be detected with regard to the highly polarized discourse concerning integrative globalization and the importance attached to the "balls" of global leadership (Globallooning -- Strategic Inflation of Expectations and Inconsequential Drift: Global, Glo-Bull, Glow-Ball, Glow-Bawl, 2009)? Similar transitions of significance might well be confusingly associated wth the ongoing shift from the double-breasted to the single-breasted suit, as separately explored (Global Governance via a Double-breasted Strange Attractor: cognitive implication in a dynamic sexual metaphor, 2009).
|Global leaders inspired by baseball|
|Ban Ki-Moon||Hillary Clinton||Donald Trump|
The form of conventional declarations as a list of points reinforces an unfortunate degree of linearity -- to the extent that a connecting thread can even be detected between them. There is little call for configuring such points otherwise to highlight semantic and other connectivity beyond such linearity -- as a concept map in two dimensions or three, appropriate to a global knowledge-based civilization.
One experiment at presenting sets of articles of various rights conventions is described separately (Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: polyhedral animation of conventional value frameworks, 2008). This explored the mapping of such articles onto various polyhedra in 3D according to the number of articles:
|Illustrative screen shots of 3D configuration of Universal Declaration of Human Rights|
|30 Articles displayed on 1 face-type
of a rhombicosidodecahedron
|Selected "open" faces||Partially (un)folded polyhedral net|
|3D images and animations prepared using features of the Stella Polyhedron Navigator application|
As a "proof of concept" exercise, no attempt was made to position the articles in terms of their potential systemic linkages. Any such mapping makes evident the constrained "oversight" of the "other side" of the polyhedron. This suggests the need for understanding how some rights may be somehow unrecognized ("in the shadow") at any one time -- as might be the case of "fucking rights".
The various separate explorations of polyhedral configuration, with which the above images are associated, notably make reference to the work on management cycbernetics of Stafford Beer on tensegrity (Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity, 1994). Any systemic consideration of the fucking connectivity implied by the above argument could be further explored from a topological perspective, as separately argued (Reframing the Dynamics of Engaging with Otherness: triadic correspondences between topology, Kama Sutra and I Ching, 2011).
Michael Adams. In Praise of Profanity. Oxford University Press, 2016
Frederick E. Allen. Use Foul Language to Relieve Stress and Pain. Forbes, 21 April 2011 [text]
Edwin L. Battistella. Bad Language: are some words better than others? Oxford University Press, 2005
Stafford Beer. Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity. Wiley, 1994
Gregory Bergman and Anthony W. Haddad. WTF?: How to Survive 101 of Life's Worst F*#!-ing Situations. Adams Media, 2008
Benjamin Bergen. What the F: what swearing reveals about our language, our brains, and ourselves. Basic Books, 2016
Susan Brownmiller. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Ballantine Books, 1975
Aryssa Damron. Hillary's Foul Language Is Deplorable. Townhall, 11 October 2016 [text]
Susan Deacy and Karen Pierce (Eds). Rape in Antiquity: sexual violence in the Greek and Roman worlds. Duckworth, 1997 [review]
Paul Ekman. Telling Lies: clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics, and marriage. W.W. Norton, 2001
Christopher Fairman. Fuck: word taboo and protecting our First Amendment liberties. Sphinx Publishing, 2009
Harry G. Frankfurt. On Bullshit. Princeton University Press, 2005
Esther Heerema. Relationship between Foul Language and Dementia. VeryWell, 6 April 2016 [text]
Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking. Basic Books, 2013
Geoffrey Hughes. Swearing: a social history of foul language, oaths, and profanity in English. Penguin Books, 1998
Aaron James. Assholes: A Theory. Anchor, 2014
Ruth Leys. A World Without Pretense? Honest and Dishonest Signaling in Social Life. Philosophy of Education, 2013 [text]
Rufus Lodge. F**k: An Irreverent History of the F-Word. The Friday Project, 2013
Melissa Mohr. Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing. Oxford University Press, 2016
George L. Mosse. The Holy Pretence: a study in Christianity and reason of State from William Perkins to John Winthrop. Howard Fertig, 2005
Jesse Sheidlower (Ed.). The F-Word. Oxford University Press, 2009
Ruth Wajnryb. Expletive Deleted: a good look at bad language. Free Press, 2005
For further updates on this site, subscribe here