Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Realpols

While I'm loath to exaggerate the importance of Lakoffian "framing" of political language, it seems to me the increasing use of the term "realist" is much more euphemistic than the abbreviated "neocon."

While both terms attempt to describe a foreign policy approach, the word "realist" tends to connote a level of certitude on the part of its proponents that should make most thinkers uncomfortable. Rather than simply identify an agreed upon framework of assumptions about "the way things are" as distinct from "the way we'd like them to be," "realism" connotes a doctrine sans ideology because of its self-reinforcing terminology. One must ask, can realists even disagree with one another?

Hence, in recognition of the true origins of realpolitik, shouldn't its adherents be more accurately described as "realpols" rather than "realists"?

Compared to neocon, realpol is equally abbreviational, colloquial and blessedly dismissive of its adherents' ability, by virtue of their adherence, to tell everyone else what is "real" or "new and improved."


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