I want to mention an exceedingly depressing form of balderdash that never seems to diminish in popularity, namely, sloganeering. Sloganeering consists largely of ritualistic utterances intended to communicate solidarity. The utterances themselves may have meanings quite contrary to those the sloganeers intend—as in the mercifully obsolete expression “Power to the People.” Very few sloganeers who used this expression could possibly have wanted the people to have all that power since, were it possible, most of the people probably would have put an immediate end to campus dissent, women’s liberation, black activism, and other troublesome political movements. What “Power to the People” really meant, of course, was “Power to Our People,” a perfectly legitimate sentiment provided you have made clear to yourself and others that that is what you are saying. The major problem with sloganeering, whether shouted from a picket line or convention hall, or displayed on a car bumper, is that it is a substitute for thought, indeed a repudiation of thought. The young are afflicted badly with this sort of balderdash, of course, and if we could get them to restrict its use to cheering at football games, we would be making some progress. But as long as slogans are used to simulate ideas, no matter in whose name, we have a serious problem in need of treatment.

Neil Postman