Summary: Continuing our discussion of ways to reform America, today we look at slogans. Why they’re important, both in gaining support and forcing us to a deeper understanding of what we’re doing. It has the virtue of practicality, although it’s not as much fun as insulting our foes, imagining the Magic Law that Reforms America, or dreaming of the great day when we arise in revolt.
- The political slogan
- My recommendation
- Effective slogans from history
- For More Information
A frequent complaint in the comments of the FM website (one of the most frequent complaints) is the lack of posts providing solutions to the political problems besetting America. Yet the dozens of posts about doing so (the mechanics) get little traffic and few comments. What few there are suggest that the described process is too long and difficult. We want the fast, easy. A simple program or magic law, then something happens, then REFORM!
Today we look at key part of the political process: creating the slogan.
(2) The political slogan
An effective political slogan conveys an idea in few word, ideally an idea that creates a strong intellectual and emotional resonance in its target audience. It acts as a lens focusing an often-complex political program into a simple construct upon which the entire group can agree.
The process also works in reverse. The process of boiling down a complex program into something easily communicated to a mass audience — culminating in slogans — forces deeper understanding of both goals and means (slogans describe both goals and means).
(3) My nominee for a slogan about the reform of America
We will set fire to the rain.
This is enigmatic, open-ended, provocative, and loaded with unseen meaning. It points to sunny days beyond the storms that loom over the horizon, but that we know will soon hit us. It describes neither the goals or the means, but directly confronts the magnitude of the task — since we do not yet know how to set fire to the rain. (The 2011 song “Set Fire to the Rain” is by Adele. See the lyrics here. See a video here.)
This is America, and we’ve accomplished similarly improbably feats in the past. To take the first steps we need only confidence that we can build a better America. We merely need confidence that we can rely on each other — on the American people.
(4) Slogans from history
We can learn from political movements before us. Perhaps these will give you ideas about reforming America — what it means, how to do it, and how to sell it to our fellow citizens. These are from Wikipedia.
“When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.”
— attributed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau
“Take off your banners the reactionary slogan “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” and instead inscribe upon your banner the revolutionary watchword: “the abolition of the wages system”.”
— Karl Marx in Value, Price and Profit (1865)
“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!”
-– Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto (1848)
“All power to the Soviets”
— A Bolshevik slogan on the eve of the October 1917 Russian revolution. Recycled by 1960s Leftists in the west as “Power to the people“
“Lieber tot als rot” (“Better dead than Red”)
— Coined by the NAZIs during WW2, and after WW2 used by conservatives in America.
“Bigger cages! Longer chains!”
— Anarchist slogan mocking use of the political demand
“Deeds Not Words”
— Slogan of the UK suffragette group Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU)
“Each for all and all for each”
– Tariff Reform League (1905)
“Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” (“One people, one empire, one leader”)
“Fifty-Four Forty or Fight”
– Slogan used in 1846 by Democrats who claimed all of Oregon Country for the United States
“Führer befiehl, wir folgen dir!” (“The Führer commands, we follow!”)
— from the song “Von Finnland bis zum Schwarzen Meer”
“Hasta la Victoria Siempre” (“Until the Eternal Victory”)
– Slogan of Che Guevara, with which he’d end his letters.
“Heim ins Reich” (“Back home into the Reich”)
— Slogan for the NAZI program to return areas with ethnic Germans into the German Reich (e.g., Austria, Sudetenland, Danzig).
“Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”)
“¡Una, Grande y Libre!” (“One, Great and Free!”)
— A Francoist-era slogan from Spain
“Venceremos” (“We will overcome, We shall Triumph”)
– Slogan associated with the Cuban Revolution, and socialism in Latin America (e.g., in the unofficial national anthem of Chile during the period leading up to the 1973 coup.
“We are the 99%”
– Slogan of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests.
“Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the people”)
— Slogan of the “Monday demonstrations” that led to the fall of the East German State.
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
— National motto of Oceania in 1984
(5) For More information: Posts about reforming America
(a) Steps to reforming America:
- The sure route to reforming America
- A third try: The First Step to reforming America
- The second step to reforming America
- The third step to reforming America, with music
- How to recruit people to the cause of reforming America
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America
(b) Other posts about reforming America:
- Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
- The project to reform America: a matter for science or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
- Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
- The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
- Should we despair, giving up on America?, 5 May 2012
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012
- The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy, 27 June 2013
- Why the 1% is winning, and we are not, 26 July 2013
- Understand our problem before you prescribe a cure for America. We’ve gone mad., 17 September 2013
- In “Network”, Howard Beale asks us to get mad and do something. He’s still waiting., 19 October 2013
- The missing but essential key to building a better America, 21 November 2013
(c) Posts about music and revitalizing America:
- A great artist died today. We can gain inspiration from his words., 26 June 2009 — About the Man in the Mirror
- The New America needs a new national anthem! Here’s my nomination., 24 November 2012
- Listen to hear the state of America (and its cure) explained in song, 8 February 2013
- The third step to reforming America, with music, 3 September 2013