The Language Legislature
Friedrich Hayek famously suggested that we could improve on representative democracy by separating state powers in yet another way. There should be two legislatures, he said — one for crafting the general rules incumbent on all people, and the other for directing the administration of the government. Keep the two separate so that we don’t all end up tasked with carrying out specific state directives.
It’s maybe a bit too subtle, and I say this as a profound admirer.
Still, I would like very much for there to be a legislative body whose sole power was to define the terms in which the government was allowed to describe itself and its actions. Consistency would be the only permitted rationale for this legislature, and it could be composed of, oh, I dunno… people who held degrees in English.
The terms they created could be as loaded or un-loaded as anyone would like. In time, and with consistent use, their valences would change. This development would be mostly out of the hands of the language legislature itself, which would only rule on whether terms were being used consistently, not on whether a particular action made them happy or sad.
This legislature would do things like defining torture, or what a “combat troop” is. It would perhaps do a thought experiment: If we sent a quarter of a million uninvited soldiers and their support retinue to a country, and if we left many of them there during the ensuing hostilities — what would the name for that be? Language Legislature says: That would be an occupation. With combat troops.
Now, there would be a lot of work for this group — perhaps enough to employ thousands on a daily basis. Enough for an entire profession, even. I can almost think of a name for it. Something mellifluous, because “Language Legislature” isn’t. Maybe it could come from the French, and it could be a word that emphasizes the daily nature of the task at hand.