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Author Topic: Origin of political expressions
King of Men
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I just realised that Norwegian political language has an interesting quirk. If a politician or appointee has made some mistake and decided to try to roll with it by saying "We screwed up, I apologise", there are two accepted formulations; he can say that he "lays himself flat", or he can say that he "takes self-criticism". The former is used for more serious screwups than the latter, and generally both are accompanied by "That should not happen" and/or "It won't happen again". Now, the part that interests me is the self-criticism bit, because it seems likely to me that its origin is in the radical communist party AKP(ml) (that's "Workers Communist Party (marxist-leninist)", and yes, the parens were an official part of the name) from the seventies, the one that trained its cadre for armed revolution. Apart from all the other reasons they were notorious, such as "self-proletarisation" and the educational trips to Albania, they were famous for enforcing discipline by the practice of self-criticism, in which the member would stand in the middle of a circle and verbally flay himself until the rest were satisfied. So described it doesn't sound very bad, but apparently there were at least a few suicides after particularly humiliating sessions, often over rather trivial matters of doctrine. (Probably a last-straw effect; party discipline was pretty strong for the cadre, and free time essentially nonexistent.)

I find it amusing that this radically left-wing practice should have become so completely mainstream in Norway that people even complain of its anodyne cliched-ness; "So he takes self-criticism", they say, "so what? Is that supposed to help?" (Alas that the Viking warrior tradition does not include the practice of falling on one's sword; no doubt that would satisfy everyone.)

Are there any often-used political expressions in your various traditions that have counter-intuitive origins?

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Blayne Bradley

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the parantheral stuff was because when the Sino Soviet split happened it pretty much split every party in every country except the Soviet Union and Warsaw pact countries into a pro china or pro soviet line. Incidentily I accidentily voted for the Maoist pro china party in my district.
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"Takes self-criticism" sounds like a black-humored euphemism for suicide anyway.
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I prefer "eliminating one's own map" myself.
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