Monthly Archives: June 2011

MORE WORDPLAY?

The manipulation and alteration of words and language over long periods of time is a subject that I have written about on several occasions and will do so with more frequency as it becomes more and more of a factor affecting the road ahead of us. This deceitful control mechanism has been used almost continuously since we invented language; it has been an extremely convenient tool in the hands of the few and their ability to maintain control of the reins of humanity up until now. In the roughly 12,000 years since the Neolithic revolution sparked life and gave birth to the dynamic human mechanism called civilization, those few who, for whatever reason, found themselves in the position to observe its birth and development, understood what was most important to understand at that time: first, that a human civilization is not a human quality but a dynamic product of the actions of humanity and that it has only one purpose and objective: to grow, in spite of the fact that nothing can grow perpetually, period; at least nothing that we know of and second; that what civilization feeds on in order to grow, is the dynamic human energy that is the result of everything that everyone does. It does not discriminate as to the nature or origin of the human dynamic energy on which it feeds. It matters not to the dynamic of civilization if the energy that it consumes in ever increasing quantities is the result of war or if it the result of a highly productive collaboration; as long as it is energy. In the understanding of these two key aspects of civilization there was a great discovery to be made. We noticed that there were no rules as to how human activity and its resulting energy were to be structured or supervised. We could literally do anything that we could think of which would result in human activity. This little detail has always been our Achilles’ heel; we have not had any success at administering our own autonomy without succumbing to the temptation of imposing our will over others (the imposition of will is what creates the illusion of power). At the same time, it is always been that any organization or structure given to the activities of humans within a civilization have occurred by the imposition of the will or a “few” who attempt to coordinate their activities with great attention to detail to keep the rest of us in line with their agenda. These impositions and the will they represent became the rules that we structured to guide all of our actions; in order to simply keep up busy. This keeps civilization fed and full and allows for the few to do whatever they want and to use the rest of us to as tools to this end, so long as humans were active. Some of these rules were imposed in a sudden and blunt manner which required some dramatic methods to achieve (since humans don’t deal with change effectively). The incorporation of religion into the fabric of human civilization was such an imposition of will; once the concept of religion evolved to the point where it became an effective tool for control, it was imposed with the subtlety of a hurricane during an earthquake. Other rules/impositions were structured with more careful planning and contain an unusual component for a human mechanism; time. These rules are very proactive and well thought out; in particular, the manipulation of language. The results of these manipulations can not be felt for many years sometimes, which in some ways is almost contradictory to the modern pace of everything which is based on doing everything immediately. I can not pinpoint when or how or who came up with the strategy of manipulating language over time to allow for control of future generations, it may not be possible given the lack of information available to trace related events backwards in time, but it doesn’t matter; we can clearly see the manipulations if we simply look for them, no one made any attempts to disguise these subtle changes in the meaning of words and nuances in inflection and tone which changed the entire understanding of things over time, nobody needed to, we weren’t looking for them. One does not look for what one does not know is there. It took what we’re going through now to create the opportunity to ask the question and once we did, it all became immediately transparent. I hope we can all learn the lessons that can be learned by observing, with such clarity, what we have been capable of doing to ourselves, and in fact, what we have done.

One of the most impacting of these manipulations has been the inclusion and evolution of the words value and worth and the concepts that they represent.

The word and the concept of worth existed well before the word and the concept of value even though their extremely close and intimate linguistic relationship today would make it hard to believe. In fact, the two words, at the point where they became words after going through all of morphological linguistic processes that words go through in order to become words, were born from two conceptually different linguistic origins. Worth the word was born to the family of human judgment lexicons. It stems from the concept morpheme worthy and essentially means worthy of; good or important enough to merit being considered useful or important or an excellence commanding esteem, be it to the world, to a group of people in particular or even just to one person. This is the root meaning of the word “worth” at its point of origin. Some examples of its use are:

“Anagrad is a person who is fair in judgment and compassionate in action; he is worth knowing.”

“Your advice and counsel seem reasonable and useful, it is advice worth taking.”

“The place that lies beyond the trees that lie beyond field that lies beyond the place where we bury our dead that lies beyond the river that lies beyond our planted fields and orchards that lie beyond our homes is far away and a long walk, but its beauty is worth the trip.”

These are all examples of the language lexicon which expresses judgment calls. In all cases, whatever it is that has been determined of worth is of importance to one or more people, which is a fundamental variable in the calculations of value. It would be appropriate today to say that those things in the examples that were considered of worth was because they had value, since excellence of character, usefulness or importance; in fact the word “values” when used to define human behavior are those considered useful or important by a group of people, regardless of what it is that has worth or is valuable. It is important to note that everything related to both of these words existed purely in the realm of human judgment. Over time, the definition of worth began to include a more proprietary nature, indicative of that which left something or produced something important to one or more people, as in: “That ox was worth the 3 slaves and my youngest virgin daughter, it has plowed thrice the area that I could have plowed alone.” This shift in the emphasis of worth began a shift towards a relationship with wealth and money and over time, the dominating definitions of the words were related to their relationship with money. Even though the original definitions describing judgment-based criteria remained in the dictionary, the expansion of those definitions, (which were all related to money) dominated the concept. See the definition of worth here. Worth suddenly was defined as having a value of, or equal in value to, as in money: This vase is worth 12 dollars. In this way, the word worth “changed” from being a noun to a preposition, if fact, in today’s dictionary it is listed as both, with preposition in the key position. Even when referring to its original function as a noun, we can see that the descriptions of things commanding esteem or considered useful or important now included the simple definition: value, as in money. Wow, pretty straightforward, but completely different from its roots, in other words; contradictory.

The word value however, was born a noun. See the definition of value here. Here we can see that right off the bat, the #1 definition of value is “the relative worth, merit or importance; the value of a queen in chess. Here I would argue that this definition describes a preposition, it is still a judgment call, but it had to be put in there I guess to preserve the “integrity” of continuity, if nothing else. This was quickly cleared up in all the rest of the definitions, where value is defined as monetary or material worth, as in commercial trade and the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange. Perhaps this last definition was a last ditch and desperate attempt to scream out “Hey! It’s not only money that has value; it can be other stuff too.” perhaps in the hopes of disguising the actual and total link between value and money. Maybe it was assumed that we don’t understand that the only medium of exchange in the world is money, or at least the only one worth exchanging. Do you see how they become intertwined in a knot of confusion, misdirection and deceit? Perhaps this slipped by a lot of people, after all it was designed to and we are not taught to question the dictionary, but after covering the other mandatory uses of the word “value” (like in mathematics, for example), we come to the 16th definition of the word, in which it becomes a verb, used with object and is defined as “to calculate or reckon the monetary value of; give a specified material or financial value to…” It doesn’t get much more direct that than that. Value is how we “reckon” the monetary value of….. Those things that have worth, obviously. We don’t walk into a store and say: “Excuse me, what’s the value of that painting?” We say “Excuse me, what is that painting worth?” In practice, if not in fact, they have becomes synonyms. The worth of a thing is defined by its monetary value. They essentially mean the same thing, so why keep both words? It’s simple, because worth still maintains an element of human judgment as part of its function, and that is what makes it possible for something to be worth more than what its value may be. Value is a specific measurement in terms of money; so is worth, but the latter kept a partial definition as a function of judgment, which may alter the value of a thing if the individual or group considers it important enough. This is what has allowed for a smooth-talking salesman to show someone a bottle of flax seed oil (for example), a consumable product with a value of roughly $1.00 per pint, then pick and choose the right words that will raise the importance of that oil to the potential buyer and suddenly, the same pint of oil is worth $20.00 to that person at that moment, as a result of a judgment call based on the explanation (story) they were hearing. This is why we kept the word worth in modern day language, it justifies the excuse that the value of a thing may be a fixed number in the Universe, but the monetary expression of that value is whatever a person considers it to be worth. This results in a direct and flagrant contradiction of definitions in the dictionary, and it’s also the excuse for the con, the play on words that allows for astuteness to be considered more important a quality than intelligence and capriciousness to win out over logic: because in the end, the worth of anything is a result of individual judgment. How extremely convenient a variable to use in altering the calculation of value used in economics and commerce; and how devastating.

Just ask yourself this and consider the significance to today’s world:

It used to be that the worth of a thing was determined by what it produced and held, since it has always been a law of human dynamics that the “worth” of a nation or even a person, was measured by what they produced and held (as in owned). That worth was then translated into its equivalent value in money and that resulted in its “net worth”; it was also what allowed for human beings became ‘for sale’ without technically being slaves. In short, the value of what someone or something was worth was measured by its ability to produce things of value and hold things of value, thus increasing their financial worth, which has become the only measure of value important to us.

Today, in 2011, a person, a company or even a country is only worth as much as its ability to pay the value of what it OWES, given that the aberration of the value of things caused by the use of individual judgment to allow for things to be worth more than their value resulted in an enormous fracture in the calculations of value. People began to exchange more money for something they desired than the value of that thing, as established by our own reckoning, this difference could not be financially reconciled because it was born of judgment and not accounting and therefore, over time, we were committing to exchange more than what we had (our net worth ) for virtually everything, allowing for the birth of CREDIT AND DEBT. Today, even those few people and entities that still produce things of value today do not have their worth enhanced by the value of the things they produce. If whatever a person or company or country produces isn’t immediately converted into the money representing its value – in the form of assets, which can be attached, taken or legally foreclosed upon, then they are considered “worthless”. Production of goods and services has become pointless, only the converted monetary value of a thing in the form of an asset is worth anything. A person can produce a million dollars worth of goods and services every day, but unless they convert that production into money and the money into assets, (which can be taken, or litigated or foreclosed upon) then that person is considered worthless by virtue of “insolvency”.

In conclusion, what began as considering anything that was seen as useful to have worth; today the only thing that is useful is money, which also happens to be the only thing we consider to have value. The only thing worth having is money, since that determines the value of what you can pay towards your DEBT, and everyone knows that a person isn’t worth anything until they owe money and thus establish credit, which creates value by allowing us to BUY money at an enormous markup, which in turns diminishes our worth and in the end, no matter what anyone does, we all end up owing everything that we may be worth to someone else.

There you have it: Value and worth; an incredibly detailed mind-fuck that, over time, made people worthless while maintaining money valuable. What an amazingly brilliant construct. We are capable of so much. If only we could figure out how to use that capacity collaboratively to make us ALL happy, instead of allowing for a few to feel the rush of imagined power at the expense of the rest of the suffering of the rest of humanity.

We can do better.

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