During long years a French magazine’s promotion was “le poids des mots, le choc des photos » : the power of words and the choc of photos. Unless there is a campaign being for elections or another purpose, photos do not play such a relevant role in our world of civil society. However the photo of a dead young boy lying on the beach of a Greek island has shifted the debate on migration during a while towards a humanitarian approach. The photos of the massive arrivals through the Balkan route have shifted it because of its impressive critical mass. The so called welcomed culture has moved towards a discourse of protection and closed borders for the sake of whatsoever.
In the same time progressives should be more attentive to the shifting wording and the power of these words by setting the ideological frame. We have many examples starting with the famous “too big to fail” which was not thought for our social system and welfare states. Continuing over flexicurity inspired by the famous Danish model to introduce however more flexible than resilient labor markets by denying social protection. Adequacy is a nice word which we find in many texts either on incomes, wages or pensions. Adequacy for what? For the narrow minded approach of ECFIN? For a poverty preventing level? For the remuneration of the work provided? We should put more attention to the repetition of these words when they come repeatedly back. Protectionism is another phantom word carrying a lot of ideological burden and putting question marks behind protection of social standards.
The most abused word actually is the illegal instead of irregular. In times when even a term like pragmatic humanism is introduced we shall just remind that our open and democratic societies were built on the so called rights based approach, the social, human, cultural and economic rights. Human beings are never illegal, but they might undergo irregular situations. Making this and other differences will be key for the coming, probably dirty campaign of any kind of populist right who want to sit on the warm sofa of the European Parliament and use it as a tribune for undermining even more what remains of the European project and poisoning the democratic consensus.
It is not behind the walls, nor behind the wire, it is behind the words and through the wording that opinion shifts are prepared. Pedagogical - if this word can be used in this frame – redundancy does not make it better in time of so called social media who often are the space of anti-social campaigning with its most ugly side of civilization. Mobilsation goes through wording, framing and terminology and therefore we should be inspired again by Gramsci: “The popular element "feels" but does not always know or understand; the intellectual element "knows" but does not always understand and in particular does not always feel.” And in the end integrate good old Hegel: “This ideal and rational middle term is speech, the tool of reason, the child of intelligent beings.”
Public space is not only in the living physical sphere, it is in the minds! Therefor mobilsation of civil society has also to do with the fight of setting trends arounds values, ideas and convictions!