I am a propagandist by profession. But my unpaid presence on the Web — which sometimes veers on rantwork, other times wanders into personal reflection — differs from my less public, behind-the-scenes editorial consulting in matters of persuasion. I allow myself, here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, etc., the latitude to use bigger words and more involved arguments . . . and to be more annoying in other ways as well.
My middle name’s Wirkman. But, with some justice, I could elide the first phoneme: ’irkman.
A propagandist must have one foot in philosophy. And, off the clock, the other foot is free to step in and out of the philosophy ring at will, as if dancing the hokey-pokey. And philosophy, you may remember, may have started with a kind of metaphysical speculation about the substance of reality (Thales, Anaxagoras, Anaximander), but it was early on upgraded to gadfly status (Socrates). And there is no surer way to annoy a normal denizen among the living than to question his reality or challenge her ideals. But that is the job of the philosopher. So: irksome is the name of the game.
The propagandist has that job of inducing paradigm shift, too. But there the notion is to make the bitter pill of Error Correction as sweet as Confirmation Bias Candy.
Marketing medicine as a luxury or decency, rather than as a necessity or strict economizing effort (no one hates “austerity” more than a modern profligate cosmopolitan*) is not an ignoble thing.
But it is not the only thing. So I can be at once more honest and more annoying when I sign my name to these posts. Or just my initials —
* See the propagandist work of Paul Krugman in the New York Times. He is paid well to shill pleasant, candy covered pills for the Establishment. And boy, does he hate the very idea of “austerity”!