Sunday, August 03, 2008

Drivel Defence vs Compass Youth

The Plain English campaign have a software package called 'Drivel Defence'. This lets people check text that they have written to see if it could be made easier to read. Knowing how to write in plain English is important for any campaigning group.

I read an article by Compass Youth called 'Ideas and Actions to change the world'. This introduces Compass Youth and is aimed at encouraging new people to join and get involved. It is almost totally incomprehensible.

There are passages like, "A hegemonic social democratic project will only be built by contesting and winning the battle for freedom by defining real freedom not as freedom from or freedom within the constraints of the market but freedom to build our lives, our communities and our societies as we see fit by doing it together." That is not the longest sentence.

There are other bits which are easier to understand, but which are just wrong. For example, "To the democratic left process must be everything". And there is a lot of jargon in the article. To be able to make sense of it, you have to know what the authors mean by terms such as 'collectivist', 'environmentalist', 'closed hierarchy', 'social democratic', 'advanced capitalism', 'pluralism', 'progressive multilateralism' and many more.

Even 'Drivel Defence' couldn't do much to help this article. But it did offer one useful tip. Instead of the word 'progressive' it suggested:

Potential alternative : progress → (to) progress something - (replace with a more precise phrase saying what you are doing).

There is nothing wrong with using technical language or jargon in some situations. But any leftie group should be able to explain what it stands for in clear, accessible language. It should not need a degree in Political Science to understand your aims and values. Replacing the jargon and waffle with more precise phrases saying what they are doing would help Compass Youth a great deal.

8 Comments:

At 7:52 am , Anonymous tim f said...

I think "progressive multilateralism" means countries acting together to do things Compass likes, as opposed to "regressive multilateralism", which means countries acting together to do things Compass doesn't like.

 
At 11:18 am , Blogger Robert said...

All it actually means, unless we get our act together, return to real socialist policies and get the rest of the world to act with us, we are stuffed.

 
At 11:18 am , Blogger Robert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1:12 am , Anonymous Ben said...

I have no idea what progressive multilateralism is. This is because I am fick.

I, am, however, at least not a complete loser. You shouldn't be surprised Dan - this is precisely the sort of language you would expect of the utterly dysfunctional fools who embody the Compass-ite ideal. My recommendation for improvement is firstly that they get a life before attempting anything more complex - such as ceasing to wank in darkened rooms over gummed up pages authored by Tribune's greatest thinkers.

Imagine what would happen if fuckwits like this were actually anywhere even remotely close to the levers of government? (Yes, we'd all - Labour members, people in employment, citizens of the United Kingdom - be completely shafted.) "Will the last person left in Britain please turn out the lights?" would never have sounded such a sage example of moderation.

 
At 8:57 am , Blogger Matt Sellwood said...

"To the democratic left process must be everything."

Best. Political. Axiom. Ever.

 
At 12:57 pm , Anonymous Ritchie said...

Ben, is that as opposed to the current batch of totally dysfunctional fools who've brought the Labour Party closer to oblivion than any time since the 20s? No mean trick while being in government with a comfortable majority.

Why anybody in Compass should take lectures from Blairite numpties who've conspired to bankrupt us (both financially and ideologically) goodness only knows.

Stop 'wanking off' (as you so pleasantly put it) over David Miliband and James Purnell, step out of your Blair induced paradise and join the real world where a devotion to market forces that puts Thatcher to shame is shafting ordinary people up and down the country.

 
At 8:03 pm , Blogger noel said...

tim f, you're completely right about progressive multilateralism, but what compass likes is treating other countries with the respect they deserve, rather than plundering their natural resources under the banner of opening up their markets. robert puts it far better than I do.

matt sellwood, maybe we should have put "democracy is everything", what do you think?

ritchie, yeah I agree...

 
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