DIVISIONARY

The dictionary of our divided age,

as language becomes a battlefield

A

ANTIFA. Organisation, movement. American anti-fascist political movement, characterised by direct action and confrontation with perceived fascists, built on a reading of anti-fascist activity in the publication, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

All Lives Matter. Organisation, protest. A counter campaigning term pushing back on the principles of Black Lives Matter.

Alt-right. Term, movement. An umbrella description for far-right political activism that originated in the 2010s in the US with a very energetic online presence.

B

Big Media. Term. Used to describe dominant print and online publishers and network broadcasters in the age of falling consumer confidence in such outlets. See the New York Times.

Blackface. Term. Used to describe white performers donning make-up to "black-up" for a performance to take on the exaggerated persona of a black person for comic or entertaining effect. Once funny for some people, now not so much.

(The) Blob. Term. Not the movie. Attributed to Conservative politician Michael Gove, “the blob” refers to a powerful institutional body that is resistant to change (in Gove’s case, the educational establishment at the time that he was Education Secretary).

Brexit. Term, movement. The campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, encapsulated in one catchy slogan. See Mexit.

(The) Big Sulk (La Grande Boude). Term. A phrase originated by Julie Burchill used to describe those who refused to accept the result of the 2016 UK Brexit referendum and who have refused to engage with its outcome in any constructive way.

C

Climate Emergency. Term, movement. A campaigning slogan that replaced "global warming", which in turn was replaced by "climate change". "Climate emergency" injects a heightened sense of urgency and emotion into the debate and also suggested a lowering horizon for environmental interventions.

Climate Heating. Term. The campaigning slogan that mutated from "global emergency" and which injects a further heightened sense of urgency and alarm into the environmental debate.

Cry-bully. Term. Originated by Julie Burchill and used to describe the easily and energetically offended who can react with vigour to such perceived offence. See Snowflake.

Compassion Olympics. TermAttributed to the great Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson and referring to competition, especially on the political centre-right, to appear as caring as possible, particularly about social policy, to win public support.

Covid Chasers. Term. Bitchy and ironic phrase originating in London used to describe those people who fervently follow governmental instructions regarding restrictions and behaviours and who signal their disapproval of others who appear not to do so.

Culture War. Term. The conflict of opposing social groups over cultural issues with a focus on polarising values and beliefs. Particularly prominent in the US and growing worldwide.

D

Defund. Term, movement(s)A political campaign to cut funding to a criticised or controversial entity to halt or reduce its activity or impact. De-fund the BBC, De-fund the police, etc.

Deep State. Term. A body of people, usually identified as being members of the government, security services or military, believed to be involved in clandestine manipulation or control of government and policy. Popular as a critical term by US President Trump and his fellow travellers.

DILF. Term. For some reason slightly less rude than MILF (see below), but essentially the same thing, as applied to men of a certain age (particularly popular slang as used by male homosexuals). 

Digital Thunderdome. Term. Attributed to (former) New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss and taken from her open resignation letter after leaving the publication in July 2020. Essentially refers to Twitter, its increasing power and the dominating influence outside of the platform by its supposedly very active Woke members. Disintegrationism. Term. Attributed to American Conservative political activist and author Ben Shapiro. In Shapiro's analysis "disintegrationism" characterises the rejection of US history and principles by the radical Left, as characterised by Shapiro in cancel culture and its attempt to divide American society.

E

Echo Chamber. Term. Used to describe media and social media platforms that have a specific political or cultural following or membership, and where authors, activists and members share similar views and passions as if with others outside their immediate group.

F

Filter Bubble. TermCoined by internet activist Eli Pariser and describing a sense of intellectual isolation, particularly enabled by the power of the internet and its ability to filter content.

Furlough. Term, public policy. Indicating the process where an employee agrees to stop work temporarily but remain employed, perhaps with reduced salary income during this period.

G

Gaslighting. Term. To describe someone deliberately confusing an opponent so that he or she questions their own sanity. See Gaslight.

Generation Bedwetter. Term. Another Julie Burchill originated slang, used to characterise the snowflake generation in the era of the culture wars.

Ghosting. Term. The process of cutting off all communication with friends or a person being dated, with no warning or notice.

Greenwash. Term. Sort of like "whitewash", but applied to suggest green concerns, particularly on the part of politically or commercially vulnerable actors with vested interests to protect. Can make advertising particularly annoying.

H

Hands Up, Don't Shoot. Term, protest. A slogan (and physical gesture) that arose following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri. 

Helicopter money. Term, public policyRefers to quickly increasing the money supply, including through fiscal measures such as additional spending or tax cuts, or injecting money directly into the accounts of individuals citizens as a means of jump-starting a weak economy.

Historical revisionism. Term. The re-interpretation of a historical record that can reflect new facts, evidence or interpretation related to it. The debate over whether accurate history exists can result in challenging the established views of historical events, which can include the introduction of contrary evidence, or reinterpreting the motivations and decisions of historical figures. Historical revisionism can also involve a reversal of established social or moral judgments, an exercise that is particularly popular in the information age.

I

J

I Can't Breathe. Term, protest. A protest slogan that became popular following the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, and which now is used in protests against police violence.

Iatocracy. Term. Rule by medics or, more specifically, doctors who run hospitals. Iatocracy comes from the Greek “iato” (meaning “physician”) and “kratein” (“rule”) and could not be more pertinent than at the present time.

K

L

Leftwaffe. Term. A satirical reference to the phenomena of online left-wing activists aggressively focusing attacks on individuals or organisations. 

M

Me Too. Term. Protest. A political movement against sexual abuse or harassment perpetrated by powerful men against less powerful women.

Media Industrial Complex. Term. From media analyst Mark Dice’s The Liberal Media Industrial Complex, referring to a mass media which has expanded beyond television, radio and print to encompass social media. Dice argues that this social media element is now dominant and controlled by an anti-conservative and censorious Silicon Valley elite.

MEXIT. Term. The apparent drive of Meghan Markel to leave (with her husband and son) the close working relationship with the House of Windsor. Also see Brexit, which is less glamorous than this.

Millennial. Term. Used to denote people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

MILF. Term. Slightly ruder than DILF and describing sexually attractive women of a certain age.

N

(The) "N" Word. Term. A phrase indicating the (offensive) use of the word "nigger" without obliging those considering it to actually use the term.

No Platform. Term, protest. The denial of a platform to opponents in a debate, apparently in an effort to limit what are claimed to be dangerous discussions or ideas. Has its roots in the culture wars (see above) of the 1990s academic circuit and came back with a particular vengeance (as did the culture wars) in the 2010s.

Processology. TermA focus on specific process details at the expense of overarching aims and outcomes.

O

OK Boomer. Term. A bitchy put-down and catchphrase that grew into a series of memes popular amongst certain teenagers and young adults starting from around November 2019. Used to dismiss and mock attitudes attributed to the baby boomer generation.

MEXIT. Term. The apparent drive of Meghan Markel to leave (with her husband and son) the close working relationship with the House of Windsor. Also see Brexit, which is less glamorous than this.

Millennial. Term. Used to denote people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

MILF. Term. Slightly ruder than DILF and describing sexually attractive women of a certain age.

P

Precautionary Principle. Term. A broad approach to innovations and their potential to cause harm where such innovations involve risk and unknown quantities. Attacked by critics for being unscientific and a barrier to progress.

Processology. TermA focus on specific process details at the expense of overarching aims and outcomes.

PPE. Term. Or Personal Protective Equipment. Think facial spit guards, plastic gloves and face masks. Became almost a cultural as well as a lifestyle fetish in the era of Coronavirus.

Producer Capture. Term. A critique, originally popular with economists in the 1970s, that suggests public services tend to be run in the interests of those who work in them (rather than for those who use or pay for them). 

Protect Lives. Term, public policy. The connection, culturally and politically, of individual action to the wider community and its health. In the era of Coronavirus, everything from taking a bus to going jogging was encouraged to take place in a way so as to “protect lives”.

Protect the NHS. Term. public policy. The connection, culturally and politically, of individual action to the UK's National Health Service and the lead slogan in the British government’s campaign to rapidly change social behaviour so as to supposedly depress demand of clinical demand by depressing Coronavirus infection rates. 

Q

R

Resist. Term, protest. Campaigning theme characterising refusal to cooperate with the presidency and administration of Donald Trump.

S

Safe Space. Term. Describing spaces, usually physical, where those who feel marginalised claim to feel secure from threats.

Shock Therapy. Term, public policy. A term used in economic analysis which refers to fast liberalisation of market and currency controls and quick economic liberalisation. Think Chile 1975 or the (post) the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Social Distancing. Term, public policy. The principle of maintaining distance from others to protect individuals from potential contamination or infection. Particularly popular in the era of the safe space.

Stay Safe. Term, public policy. A slogan adopted by the British government during the Coronavirus pandemic to encourage alertness and defensiveness on the part of UK citizens. Has a cultural relationship to Operation Staysafe, which was an English scheme from 2008 that gave the police powers to transfer apparently vulnerable young people to social services.

T

Thank You. Term. The British phrase of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, adopted particularly by corporations and service providers in their advertising to communicate a caring characteristic following extensive market research with consumers to test the effectiveness of the phrase as used in this context.

Trans. Term. An abbreviation of "transgender" or "transsexual" or indeed trans anything.

Trigger Words. Term. Indicating words that can apparently trigger emotional or psychological responses in readers.

Twitterstorm. Term. A sudden flurry of online activity about a specific topic that appears on Twitter and which can be started by a single person, but which tends to be maintained by others with a passion.

U

V

Volvoisation. Term. A satirical term characterising what is perceived to be a middle-class desire for optimum safety in all things.

No Platforn. Term, protest. The denial of a platform to opponents in a debate, apparently in an effort to limit what are claimed to be dangerous discussion or ideas. Has its roots in the culture wars (see above) of the 1990s academic circuit and came back with a particular vengeance (as did the culture wars) in the 2010s.

Processology. TermA focus on specific process details at the expense of overarching aims and outcomes.

W

X

Woke. Term. Being alert to injustice in society, with a particular focus on racism. The word of our age.

Y

Z

Zero Covid. Term. Aiming for a high majority of the population being vaccinated against Covid-19, Zero Covid advocates argue for lockdowns, strict border controls and aggressive infection-tracing, with public health experts leading the Covid-19 policy response and its implementation.

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