Avoid the Passive Voice

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Oct 6 07:30:41 PDT 1998

>Since Chomsky has written extensively about these topics it should be easy to
>find a reference to support the ad hominen attacks shown in the first
>and below. This was not done.

Avoid the passive voice. It makes for weak prose, and fuzzy thought.

Noam Chomsky is old enough to know that in the context of 1945-1955 the economic benefits from a program to stimulate exports and create a higher-pressure economy were a bit more equally distributed than the then-current distribution of income, and were much more equally distributed than the post-1945 tax burden. He knows as well as I do that a program to use tax money to boost exports--the Marshall Plan, in its domestic-impact facet--was not an inequality-increasing transfer of wealth away from hard-working American taxpayers.

And Noam Chomsky knows as well as I do the first obligation of every participant in any speech situation: to do your best to raise the level of the debate--not to create false consciousness.

The use of political debate as an opportunity to create false consciousness... The opposing of hard-working "taxpayers" to sinister parasites... The invocation of nationalism... The condemnation of social democracy as a mask for plutocratic interests, coupled with a certain... fuzziness... as to what the alternative set of economic arrangements is.

You can call this political complexion whatever you want. You can even ignore that it exists. But it *is* a kissing cousin to Action Francaise, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and the National Socialist German Workers' Party. It isn't full-blown fascism. But it is proto- or pseudo-fascism.

I don't have to bury my head in the sand and pretend that we aren't hearing more of it from *all* directions on the political spectrum.

And I don't have to like it either.

Brad DeLong

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