In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

What does “Advisor” mean in Toadland ?


Semantics – the study of words and their meanings – is an important subject, after all. I used to hang back from it as being peripheral, academic, finickity, pedantic. But now, especially in this era when the Lie is so greatly in the ascendant, I see more clearly that being alert to how words are used, and how subtly that use can change, is a crucial way of seeing the truth of human motivation and behaviour and the use and abuse of power. 

For words don’t just mean. They also suggest, imply, deflect, obscure, hide, deceive. Words don’t just live. They also die and kill.

For instance, this word “advisor.” It was being used quite a lot last week, with regard to the Toad’s reshuffling of his “cabinet” and – specifically – with Sajid Javid’s “resignation.”

And this “resignation” was occasioned by the Toad’s insistence that, to keep his job, Javid must get rid of his Treasury “advisors” and exchange them for Number 10’s “advisors” (all of the latter answerable to Dr Doombeetle).

But hold on. What has just been said ? Did we take note, before rushing on, or being rushed on ? Of course there’s been some discussion about Number 10’s “power-grab.” And the new cabinet’s manifest leaning towards the toadie, the rookie and the rubbery spine.

But “advisors” ? What was really being said here ?  What is an advisor, after all, according to one’s usual or previous understanding of the term ? First, the advisor is a human being, at least in most cases, and therefore not a chattle. Second, that person might have some expertise or experience or similar set of qualities, which make him/her worth listening to. Third, you don’t have to take his/her advice. If you happen to be a Minister of State, you are the person with the power and the responsibility to make the decisions.

But those meanings do not appear to have held good in this case, despite the word being used repeatedly.

Here, the “advisors” appear to be toys, or furniture, or flowers, or weapons, or drones, or uniforms, ie mere objects to sweep in or out, as convenient. Not people. “Sack them ?” What for ? Incompetence, misconduct ? None of those things. Just ownership. Further, consideration of human rights, human treatment, didn’t come into it. Therefore, we must surely conclude that, at least in this case, “advisor” did not mean human being.    

But although they’re mere objects, they seem to be regarded as very powerful and important ones. That’s why they have to be the Doombeetle’s objects and not the Chancellor’s objects.

Maybe they’re dummies (so that, on top of Dr Doombeetle’s other extraordinary abilities, he must be a ventriloquist, as well) and that would explain why his dummies must replace those of Mr Javid. To give orders. To keep watch. Like thought-police. Like drones, hovering.

But this is taking us a long way from what I once understood “advisor” to mean. And it is taking us a long way towards abuse of power, further debasement of quality in government, and plain abuse of people. And that already means, and in the Toad’s case has always meant, not just certain people, but any people. All people.