We Need New Words For Our Madness

George Orwell gave a powerful warning of the dangers of ceding control of the language, and therefore the range of possible thoughts, to authorities who understood how to shape it so to render the population incapable of independent action. I am a sensitive to the ways in which we allow manipulators of various sorts, from advertisers and PR firms to public officials and executives to enablers in the media, to denature words that once had some impact, and to relabel phenomena to make them either less threatening or more impressive than they ought to be. “Abduction, imprisonment without trial, and torture” becomes the bloodless “extraordinary rendition.” “Adultery” becomes “infidelity.” “Personnel” had over time become “human resources” and at Goldman, “human capital management.” I’m sure readers can come up with many more colorful examples.

There are phenomena that need names to bring them more sharply into focus. There is no name in English for one of our prevalent forms of corruption, which is a financial reward after the fact for support or assistance, which if the same reward were given in advance, it would clearly be seen as a bribe. Even in our current American value system of “anything goes as long as you can make an explanation and not burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it,” most people are uncomfortable with this practice. Yet the lack of a derogatory term means it attracts far less opprobrium than it deserves.

Reader craazyman called for another new word yesterday:

There should be a word for situations when everyone in a certain place and time loses their minds and goes completely nuts.

This would really help, to have this word, because then it wouldn’t be such a struggle to point out all the insanity.

All you’d have to do is say, “Well, Look at them over there, they’re having a real ______.”

It should be a word that connotes a sense of shameful loss of control. So that people would want to deny it and feel deeply ashamed and embarrassed. Sort of like they’d feel if they were caught in a brothel paying for sex with a 12 year old.

It should probably be a German sounding word, because it would have psychoanalytical overtones and that Germanic capability for social catastrophe and collective psychosis.

I don’t speak German, but it should sound like you’re spitting from the back of your throat, the way German sounds.

So when a bunch of dip-shit nobodies makes a few million a year looting prudent savers and small children’s futures, and tries to justify it by reference to their “talent” and gets the government and academia on their side somehow, you can just use that word. “Crime” is too blunt a word. I’m thinking of something with at least five syllables that hits like a mind missile.

It looks like this, but you need to use your imagination to fill in what happens next:

Ed Harrison suggested Narrenfieber (crazy fever) or Narrenfreude (crazy happiness), but they don’t strike me as being guttural or long enough. It could be a short phrase instead of a single word.

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  1. RW

    “There is no name in English for one of our prevalent forms of corruption, which is a financial reward after the fact for support or assistance, which if the same reward were given in advance, it would clearly be seen as a bribe.”

    Maybe I misunderstand your point, but this sounds like the definition of a gratuity, which is illegal. And while it is a misdemeanor in some states, it can be the basis of a federal felony in some circuits (at least until the Supreme Court deals with Weyrauch, Black and Skilling this term).

    1. JTFaraday

      “Gratuity” sounds like a good term/ legal construct for Bill Clinton’s speaking fees.

      “Conspiracy to defraud the US government” sounds like a good term/ legal construct for Robert Rubin’s arm twisting.

      Knowledge asymmetry.

      Paulson holding Nancy Pelosi hostage for the TARP, the various Fed programs etc, would be “defrauding the US government.”

      I think we should look for terminology from within the anglo-saxon legal system.

      1. JTFaraday

        And–certainly not for nothing!– Paulson *knew* to ensure that his actions would not be legally actionable.

        I’m not sure that should be binding.

    2. Peripheral Visionary

      “Illegal gratuity” is indeed the correct legal term, but as per Yves’ post, I find it too denatured. A more appropriate colloquial term would be “kickback” (hat tip to S.R.Barbour, below), which has sufficiently negative and informal connotations, as is typically appropriate.

      To the original question, for “situations when everyone in a certain place and time loses their minds and goes completely nuts”, I would nominate one of my personal favorites, ‘conspiracy of fools’. It captures not just the idiocy, but the organization of the idiocy into a coherent and ultimately self-destructive system of idiocy.

      1. DownSouth

        Your “conspiracy of fools” reminded me of a book I read many years ago called A Confederacy of Dunces:

        “Then you must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age,” Ignatius said solemnly. “Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books.”

    3. News Nag

      An episode of Star Trek (which generation?) featured a planet of human automatons who were super calm all the time except one day of the year, when they were allowed/compelled to go wild. They were controlled by a supercomputer called LANDRIEU!!!!

      Call the madness THE WILL OF LANDRIEU!

  2. CrocodileChuck

    how about a word for a ‘bribe in advance’? eg, Lawrence Summers being paid $5.2M by D.E. Shaw for one day’s work a week in 2008 (in expectation of his ‘ascent to heaven’ in the next administration)

  3. El Ror

    finanzheist – pseudo german for financial heist, i.e. the act of plundering the resources of a nation at the highest level.

    monieschies – a fiscal crises thanks to recklessness

    promitador – from “imitador de la probidad”, spanish for “imitator of probity”.

    Example of an FT aritcle c 2013:

    The crisis of 2008 was at first glance a monieschies. As time progressed it appeared that it was in fact a finanzheist of the highest order. President Ron Paul addressed the nation: “Clearly these promitadors have looted the people and must be brought to justice.”

  4. Jim

    I believe the most prevalent term in English is, “Hey, they’ve just all flown up their own a**h***s”. It’s a picturesque term.

  5. superduperdave

    Maybe we should first work on unwinding some of the evil euphemisms that are already out there: i.e., return “private equity” to “pension fund looters,” or — at the very least — “leveraged buyout operators.”

  6. Uwe

    Meshuga was the first word that came to my mind – although it is already used in English and does not have enough syllables. ‘Schwachsinn’ is a German word that fits. It could be compounded to make it longer like ‘Schwachsinnsanfall’ (lunacy attack).

  7. Michael

    Why not call it what it is – it’s a bribe. Otherwise you’re really just softening it by giving it a cute name. Just as ‘campaign contributions’ could be ‘soft bribes’ perhaps future expected bribes could be ‘booked bribe’ or ‘budgeted bribe’, ‘post bribe’? ‘booked bribe’ has a nice ring to it.

    As for craazyman’s request I’m partial to ning-nong http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_561539008/ning-nong.html. It sounds quite polite, and can mean anything from ‘playfully foolish or silly’ to ‘complete idiot’ and is kiddie friendly. (tho in some parts of the world it may be a racist slur, i fear).

    `Spastic’ really fits his definition quite well, however that is apparently too un-pc and offensive these days (20 years ago it was uttered often on one prime-time family tv show here). Also a related/shortened form: ‘look over there, they’re having a real spac attack’.

  8. koen

    When reading through the article, I couldn’t stop thinking about ‘nutball’: a collective game of going nuts.

  9. bena gyerek

    “There is no name in English for one of our prevalent forms of corruption, which is a financial reward after the fact for support or assistance, which if the same reward were given in advance, it would clearly be seen as a bribe.”

    when i worked at a bank, we used to call them “broker’s fees”. we also called our tax avoidance group “structured capital markets.” admittedly they did do more than just tax avoidance. they also did regulatory and accounting scams.

    as far as the destructive willful group self-delusion goes, we used to use the expression “ripping their eyes out” when we were making a big load of hidden profit at a particularly gullible client’s expense. so how about a “ripfest”?

  10. Stevie b.

    “There should be a word for situations when everyone in a certain place and time loses their minds and goes completely nuts.”


  11. Vinny G.


    Great article. I’ll take a shot at the two new words we need:

    First, the situation when a group of people all go crazy at once in a type of psychological contagion. In the current version (4) of the DSM, which is the diagnosis book for psychiatric and clinical psychological problems, there is a disorder called Shared Psychotic Disorder. It is a type of delusional parasitosis, and seems to fit nicely, as I’ll describe below. This is a phenomenon that society has struggled with for centuries, so even before English became a popular language, there were already established phrases in French for this (“Folie à plusieurs”), as I’ll describe below. But we probably need to find its German translation to see if it sounds nasty enough — I’ll try to find it shortly. But here are the diagnosis criteria for Shared Psychotic Disorder:

    1.   An individual develops a delusion in the context of a close relationship with one or more other prople, who have an already-established delusion. For example the CEOs of Citi, or GS, or any other financial institution have become deluded into believing they’re the greatest things since slice bread, are above the law, and therefore they personally deserves millions and millions in salary and retention bonuses, plus they are deluded into believing their organizations are essential to the survival of the world thus they deserve trillions in bailouts. Now, in no time at all, all of the VPs will begin to share the CEO’s delusions, and so will their traders and just about everybody else in the orgamizations. 

    2.  The second diagnosis criteria requires that the delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has the established delusion. In our case, everybody below the obviously delusional CEO, includind his VPs, traders, and everybody else have also become deluded into believing they too are the greatest things since slice bread, are above the law, and deserve millions and millions in salary and retention bonuses. At this point they’re all psychotic. And of course, psychosis is pure crazyness, worse than any other mental pronlem. Yep, these people are pretty sick by any standard.  

    3.   The third diagnostic criteria only states that this group disturbance is not better accounted for by another Psychotic Disorder, such as Schizophrenia.  Chances are, I doubt most CEOs of our financial industry would qualify for the full Schizophrenia diagnosis (likely because their delusions of grandeur are something accepted by society at large). However egos of such pathological magnitude can only be based on delusions.

    Another common name (in French) for this phenomenon is “Folie à deux” when the madness is shared by two or “Folie à plusieurs” when the madness is shared by many, as is in Wall Street’s case. As I mentioned, the French term has been around for a very long time, as has been the phenomenon itself. 

    In German, my tries at translation are crude, using online translation sites, but the one I liked best is “Kollektiv Wahnvorstellung”.  Considering that “W” in German is read as a “V”, that last word sounds particularly rough. I also like the word “Kollektiv”, as it suggest some kind of cooperation and conspiracy between these people. But anyway, maybe a German-speaking reader could help here. 

    Also, I should add that these people also have very strong Antisocial Personality Disorder features, which is another politically correct way to refer to a cold blooded career criminal. So, the captains of Wall St and London’s City are a pretty twisted crowd. Therefore, maybe we can insert a German version of the word “criminal” there too…

    Second, as far as the word to describe the bunuses as bribes, I suggest a few Turkish words:
    “Baksheesh” — this word is common, and fits the concept of a bonus, but the problem is that it usually refers to small sums. 
    Other turkish words that imply more of a tribute would be: “hürmet etmek”, “takdir etmek”, “övmek”.  Maybe our Turkish-speaking readers can suggest a few better choices. 
    In any event, I suggest we finally acknowledge the complete balkanization of America and the UK, and start adopting proper terminology to describe our official practices…


    1. German guest

      “Kollektive Wahnvorstellung” is the perfect expression. (but is has to be “Kollektive” with “e” at the end).

  12. Gonzalo Lira

    I think your clip is the key—why not call this phenomenon “having a romper-stomper”?

    A romper-stomper would be the name of a collective psychosis which is self-evident to a very small minority during the fact, but self-evident to all only after the fact—like when those child care workers were convicted to years of imprisonment for ritualistic satanic cannibalism of small children (even though all the kids they took care of were unharmed, present and accounted for). Or like when the country invaded Iraq for no reason. Or like when we bailed out the banks and they paid themselves record bonuses.

    1. Vinny G.

      Sounds like the whole country has gone nuts. As a shrink, I should be making a killing then… :)


  13. bruixa

    in Basque means “witches’ gathering”, presumably to celebrate all sorts of crazy and perverse things together.

  14. Owe Jessen

    Well, for the second word I give you Narrenfreiheit (Freedom for lunatics). But I think the good english word clusterf*ck works just as well. I also like the acronym SNAFU (Situation normal, all f*cked up).

    And I second to call the first case corruption – or, as another commentator has suggested – gratuity.

  15. MarcoPolo

    …Beware of the scribes who love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the market places, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost places at feasts; who devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayers; these shall receive greater condemnation. MK 12:38,40

    Perhaps it’s an Hebrew word you’re looking for.

  16. johnnyg

    clagatomas – pronuonced Klaga Toe Mas.

    It’s the mispronounced name my friends had for a German ex girlfriend of mine that none of them liked.

  17. Dan Duncan

    Political Litost

    From Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting on Litost:

    Litost is an untranslatable Czech word. Its first syllable, which is long and stressed, sounds like the wail of an abandoned dog. As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.

    Take an instance from the student’s childhood. His parents made him take violin lessons. He was not very gifted and his teacher would interrupt him to criticize his mistakes in an old, unbearable voice. He felt humiliated, and he wanted to cry. But instead of trying to play in tune and not make mistakes, he would deliberately play wrong notes, the teacher’s voice would become still more unbearable and harsh, and he himself would sink deeper and deeper into his litost.

    What then is litost?

    Litost is a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

    One of the customary remedies for misery is love. Because someone loved absolutely cannot be miserable. All his faults are redeemed by love’s magical gaze, under which even inept swimming, with the head held high above the surface, can become charming.

    Love’s absolute is actually a desire for absolute identity: the woman we love ought to swim as slowly as we do, she ought to have no past of her own to look back on happily. But when the illusion of absolute identity vanishes (the girl looks back happily on her past or swims faster), love becomes a permanent source of the great torment we call litost.

    Anyone with wide experience of the common imperfection of mankind is relatively sheltered from the shocks of litost. For him, the sight of his own misery is ordinary and uninteresting. Litost, therefore, is characteristic of the age of inexperience. It is one of the ornaments of youth.

    Litost works like a two-stroke engine. Torment is followed by the desire for revenge. The goal of revenge is to make one’s partner look as miserable as oneself. The man cannot swim, but the slapped woman cries. It makes them feel equal and keeps their love going.

    Since revenge can never equal its true motive, it must put forward false reasons. Litost is, therefore, always accompanied by a pathetic hypocrisy.

    And back to your post….

    Both the Left and the Right are represented by bereft, corrupt morons. Of this, there is no doubt.

    We look at the people who “represent our interests” and we see a bunch of pigs at the trough. If you are on the Right, Bush/Cheney probably bring you torment. If on the Left, it’s hard to imagine you aren’t somehow tormented by the leadership of Pelosi and Reid.

    Our misery with our respective leaders brings about a desire for revenge. The goal of political “commentary”, then, is too often to simply make the other side (ie the Left) as pathetic the one being written to (ie the Right). [And vice-versa.]

    A certain insanity comes into play when the commentator–aka Coulter or Olberman forgets just how miserable the representation is of their respective side.

    The consequences are two-fold:

    Those of us who are subject to this phenomenon are apt to assert and defend the most irrational policy decisions because there’s no way we are going to be honest about our own political misery.

    Secondly, since we are so divided, we are systematically exploited.

    Our Leaders/Bankers/Media-Players are not crazy. We are.

    1. cougar_w

      I very much enjoyed reading this. But I cannot pinpoint exactly why! This itself is a delight.


  18. J. Thomas Duffy


    Let’s not get hung-up, or distracted on the German thing …Let’s keep in dead center, almost regal-sounding – Goldmanized … We can make it as ubiquitous as “Simonized”, as in “shined” or “polished” … How they (and others on Wall Street) keep “shining us on”, while they “polish off” our money


  19. DoctoRx

    Sorry to disagree. No new terms are needed.

    The financial people are for the most part rational actors. They have not gone nuts. The word for their behavior is:


    In the occasional extreme case of mass insanity a la NAZ 5000 in the year 2000, the word is:


    Let’s keep it simple.

  20. aet

    The word is “graft”, and it was very familiar and much-used back in the 1930s. A fine American word, just over a century old, well-fitted for use in the present context.

    Has hardly ever been used by television “journalists” though.

  21. S.R.Barbour

      /ˈkɪkˌbæk/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kik-bak] Show IPA


    1. a percentage of income given to a person in a position of power or influence as payment for having made the income possible: usually considered improper or unethical.

    2. a rebate, usually given secretively by a seller to a buyer or to one who influenced the buyer.



    A slang term used to describe the payment of something of value to another individual with the goal of persuading or influencing their decision or performance in certain situations.

    Investopedia Commentary

    A kickback may be in the form of cash or favors, and can be legal or illegal. A common form of kickbacks, in the context of investing, are commission rebates for investors who trade frequently.


    Main Entry: kick·back

    Pronunciation: ‘kik-“bak

    Function: noun

    : a payment (as of money or property) made to one in a position to open up or control a source of income for the payor kickbacks for referrals> —compare BRIBE, PAYOFF
    NOTE: A kickback is specifically a payment for income received or to be received. The word is usually not restricted to a return of funds.

    Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
    Cite This Source
    Search another word or see kickback on Thesaurus | Reference

  22. i on the ball patriot

    1. A deegy = Delayed Gratification Scam.

    2. Scamericafest. All you’d have to do is say, “Well, Look at them over there, paying for sex with that 12 year old, they’re having a real scamericafest!”

    And for the slime at the top … deceptofatzis — wealthy elite fat cats that use deception to impose corporate fascism.

    And of course for those scamericans who are higher on the culpability chain of responsibility for allowing the great scamerican ponzi to even exist;

    Scamerichumps — the clueless chumps who validate, legitimize, and give the deceptofatzis their power by voting in the scam electoral process and keeping the whole scamerican ponzi alive and well. You know, the folks that righteously and condescendingly point to their far brighter brethren and tell them in their prissy little ya ya childless voices, “You can’t complain if you don’t vote!”

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  23. Lee

    stolen (partially) from South Park:


    Or something more guttural:

    The word “shiza” translated into “shit” in South Park — Eric Cartman’s mom appeared in a “German Shiza Video.” Apparently “shiza” is not even a German word so it’s doubly funny.

  24. MinnItMan

    I agree that the word/phrase need not be Germanized. And it out to contain the connotations and denotations of the “circle jerk,” where somebody is getting set up to literally get caught with [his] trowsers down, etc.

  25. DownSouth

    craazyman said: “It should probably be a German sounding word, because it would have psychoanalytical overtones and that Germanic capability for social catastrophe and collective psychosis.”

    Actually, Orwell explicitly warned against the use of foreign words:

    Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent…

    Foreign words and expressions…are used to give an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g., and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in English… Bad writers, and especially scientific, political and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones… The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.
    –George Orwell, “Politics and the English language”

  26. Donald Last

    Loot racket in German “beuteschlager” .

    Loot gangs in German “beutegruppen”

    Lootshiza or “beutshiza”

    Or just keep it English. Its a “lootracket” or “They are all “lootshiza”.

    The last one seems best.

  27. Donald Last

    PS. “loot” or “looting” seems best since it is not time constrained. It can be premeditated, or it can be a description post hoc. Its short and cryptic.

    “shiza” seems to carry the right note of contempt. Low life. And we all know it is just a shade away from something of bad odour.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      I agree … and put them all on a permanent, “Fight Deception” reference page … have the series go beyond language and include actions that can be taken for positive change … recently, rather than discard those credit card offers with the postage paid envelopes I have been returning them with terse messages inside, e.g. — de-privatize banking, parasitic bankers suck, etc.

      I just sent one back to Chase and on the outside of the envelope (flap side), printed the survey question. “Which person do you trust least?” Below that I added four check off boxes and listed the survey question choices; Pimp, Crack Whore, Used Car Salesman, and last, Banker.

      After checking the banker box I flipped it in the mail.

      This will actually be good feedback for the banks and help them course correct.

  28. charcad

    “It should be a word that connotes a sense of shameful loss of control. So that people would want to deny it and feel deeply ashamed and embarrassed. Sort of like they’d feel if they were caught in a brothel paying for sex with a 12 year old.”

    It took some weeks for the MSM to decide whether or not an admitted pedophile like Roman Polanksi should be returned to complete his court case.

    So I’m suspicious about the potential success of this project.

    1. DownSouth

      No individual or community can face squarely the fact that they do make themselves the center of their universe; this idolatry is too devastating for any of us freely to admit. Hence, says Niebuhr, we deceive ourselves that what we do is right, in fact our moral or religious obligation…

      We make the interests of our relevant group central to our thought and action, and hence we give ourselves with all our loyalty and power to our group, to its security and success, and to its conquest and domination of competing groups.
      –Langdon B. Gilkey

    1. cay

      Also available online as e-texts at Project Gutenberg since the book has long been in the public domain.

      see under Charles Mackey:

      Favorite quote: “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

  29. Don Cafferty

    By quoting “Bastiat”, William Black has given us a name that describes the plundering and looting of the bankers with the complicity of government.

  30. Doc Holiday

    Words are meaningless without actions.

    Also see: Major Fraud Against the United States

    The Major Fraud Act of 1988 (Pub.L. No. 100-700, § 2, 102 Stat. 4631) created a new offense, 18 U.S.C. § 1031:
    Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, any scheme or artifice with the intent —
    to defraud the United States; or
    to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, in any procurement of property or services as a prime contractor with the United States or as a subcontractor or supplier on a contract in which there is a prime contract with the United States, if the value of the contract, subcontract, or any constituent part thereof, for such property or services is $1,000,000 or more . . . .

    The statute has been upheld against vagueness attacks. United States v. Nadi, 996 F.2d 548 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 347 (1993); United States v. Frequency Electronics, 862 F. Supp. 834 (E.D.N.Y. 1994). For more on the Act, see S. MacKay, The Major Fraud Act After Seven Years: an Update, 64 Federal Contracts Report 1 (Sept. 25, 1995, Bureau of National Affairs). The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section Federal Procurement Fraud Unit also has prepared a monograph on the Act, as well as a sample indictment.

    The Act also establishes a “bounty-hunter” provision under 18 U.S.C.§ 1031(g), which allows payments from the Department of Justice to persons who furnish information under the Act; however, to date, no fund has been authorized and no payments awarded.

    ** Too bad DOJ is corrupt as well!

    With regard to the second prong set forth in Schneiderman, 968 F.2d at 1568, whether the law “provide[s] explicit standards for those who apply [it],” we find that section 1031 is sufficiently clear to prevent its arbitrary or discriminatory application. The statute sets forth clear requirements to guide prosecutors.

    1. JTFaraday

      That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for.

      All these German psychoanalytic-sounding terms that render adults with the legal rights and obligations of citizenship into permanent adolescents with no rational control over their actions just facilitates their “(collective) insanity” plea.

      Just read somewhere–was it here?–that insanity is a legal construct and we ought not be in the business of writing the defense.

      That sounds right to me.

  31. Cynthia

    Glenn Greenwald wonders why we haven’t thrown the book at our banksters, while other countries similar to ours have done so with their banksters:

    “Last week, China executed a corrupt official of a securities company and, in the past, “has also executed government officials in its long-running fight against corruption” (h/t austinboy)… Last week, Britain imposed a one-time 50% tax on bankers’ bonuses in response to the crisis they caused and subsequent bailout they needed, and France is now doing the same.”

    He goes on to say:

    “I wonder what it’s like to live in a country where financial elites are held accountable for wrongdoing.”


  32. Tom Stone

    Your thesis that the road from Capitalism to Fascism is paved with Euphemisms does comport with the observable facts.My readings of history ( The REALLY dismal science) do not encourage a belief that our current course will be reversed in less than a few decades despite the horrendous consequences.

  33. Gloeschi

    Dancing like a “Rumpelstiltskin” is the phrase.

    Tried to find something appropriate – could only come up with above vid. May be the original (Techno Viking) is better…

  34. john newman

    Lets back up a minute, while I agree that “kick back” is the appropriate first term and like “looting” (or rent seeking, see Volker in WSJ) for the second, if we could just agree that “campaign finance” is a euphemism for bribery and revert to that term our language might find its way back onto the tracks.

  35. Ben

    Hadn’t seen Romper Stomper, but that scene is a 100% ripoff of A Clockwork Orange, right down to the music and the old guy in a sweater.

  36. Stephen V.

    Er, *Ponzo Capitalism* comes to mind.
    And if we have a *snafu* it is probably because things are
    FUBAR (F’ed Up Beyond All Reason).

    And locally, I got this one from a client who worked for many years in OKlahoma (hence the Native American flavour) as an ER Nurse:


    You all have made my day.

  37. Cullen

    I say go with the modern vernacular (after all it’s today’s kids who will be tomorrow’s feudal lords/serfs).

    They would probably say:

    “Those guys are a bunch of griefers camping the spawn point.”

    And if you don’t know what that means, sorry, you got old somewhere along the way.

  38. Chrisp

    Sorry Folks,

    I’d suggest something much simpler…how about “reversion to the mean”?

    The mean in this case being feudalism.. :-(

  39. Emmelin

    technically Dutch is the more more gutteral, back of the throat language than German, so should search around Dutch as well.

  40. Namazu

    I’ll think about it. Meanwhile, would you agree that the phrase “appearance of a conflict of interest” should be banned from serious conversation?

  41. Peter T

    The prefix Narren- describes in German well the phenomenon of collective self-serving self-delusion. A ting was one of those half-organized Germanic meetings where those prevailed who made the biggest noise. A Narrenting would be a loud collection of fools. (It could also be written Naarending or Narrenthing, th spoken as t).

    The guttural sounds are not so frequent in Standard German and are more characteristic of Dutch and Swiss German.


    looting prudent savers and small children’s futures, and tries to justify it by reference to their “talent”

    Pouring destructive chemicals into the SSSSI, So Successful Sodium Silicate Inlet just under the exhaust gas recirculation sensor for the purpose of sabotage against the demand supply curve of the poor peoples transportation system is also a spade by any word.

    Listen up Democrats

  43. Ina Pickle

    Unless I miss your meaning, what you are calling a bribe after the fact (in essence) used to be called a kickback. I know that word has been muddied a lot lately, but it used to fit the definition.

    As for everyone going crazy at once, there was a Greek concept that was associated with worship of Dionysus. I can’t remember the word, but it used to include people being torn limb from limb by mobs rendered temporarily insane. I will have to look it up. . . .

    I vote for “Narrenting.” Inspired use of a word that has all but gone from use and deserves wider attention. Doesn’t have that satisfying chewy feel that long, complicated words sometimes have in German – but is absolutely accurate for what you are looking to describe in English.

  44. Beata

    Yiddish has various words to describe a state of madness:
    Farblonjet ( completely off course )
    Fermisht ( turned upside down )
    Fertummmelt ( totally dazed )

    And for true insanity:
    Mishegoss ( craziness )

  45. old european

    Attention, association chain:

    => Sigmund Freud
    => working in Wien
    => town in Austria
    => Brüno

    Which leads to (tataaa !)


    Which is
    – pretending to be valuable to society
    – nerving everyone around to the bone
    – standing in every way, blocking progress
    – being very, very, very selfconscious
    – etc. etc.

    Zufrieden ? gern geschehen, keine Ursache ;o)

  46. Pangea Joel

    My two cents:

    Zeitweilig Geisteskrankheit uber alles

    Zeitweilig Mishegas uber alles

    and then afterwards,

    Everyone becomes Verklempt because then they realize that before they were so Verblunget, Verfallen, and Verkracht

  47. emca

    Words, words, words… as someone once said, “words are important” (especially when they are a substitute for action).

    As to the Romper clip (yes it does look to be a smug plagiarism of Clock Work Orange, the barbarians entering the city of Rome to rape and pillage or a translation of the uber-sophisticates fear of the Ordinary/profane), the term that comes to my mind is ‘collective insanity’, Perhaps we could elaborate that into collective dissonance, mass psychosis, shared perceptual dislocation, group denial, mutual stupidity, etc.

    The other term, as Yves intimated, is more difficult, in part I suppose, because words have a life of their own outside the lips of their speaker. It would follow along the lines of ‘kick-back’ or graft pushed forward, or more accurately something suggesting compensation expected for deeds yet performed, an unholy alliance of financial and political power, the collusion of a few to the detriment of the many.
    One suggestion would be the use of the term ‘incest’, something which might imply corruption of natural as well as social foundations within a kinship, as incestuous mismanagement, or corporate/governmental incestuous elitism, incestuous career enhancement or even “we’ll keep it our family for own good”.
    Perhaps incest is too strong a term. Maybe better, something along the line, insider government, mutual assured employment agreements (for the few) or guaranteed governmental accessibility careers or a redeemable benefit as ‘frequent flier miles’ rewards.

    Whatever the ‘new’ term, there is always the old standbys, i.e. plutocracy, cronyism, revolving-door policy making, influence marketing and of course, the Alliance for Private and Public Corruption. You could might also combine the standard terms with some of the above suggestions for; mutually assured full plutocratic employment, or frequent cronyism mileage; maybe some of this mishmash can get you started.

  48. Kordo

    Not knowing a lot of German, I like the sound of Narrenfiebersturm (crazy fever storm? Do I have that right?)
    Good syllable count, anyways.
    I await the judgment of the Group….

  49. Thomas

    I find Craazyman’s characterisation of Germans highly offensive. Do you conciously encourage racist stereotyping Yves, or was that just an accident?

  50. Thomas

    Whoops – spelling mistake spotted. I wanted to say:

    I find Craazyman’s characterisation of Germans highly offensive. Do you consciously encourage racist stereotyping Yves, or was that just an accident?

  51. The Shadow Knows

    in flagrante beneficio


    In flagrante delicto (Latin: “in the blazing [progressing] offence [misdeed]”) or sometimes simply in flagrante
    Latin: “while blazing [during]”) is a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offence (compare corpus delicti). The colloquial “caught red-handed” or “caught rapid” are English equivalents.

    Like many instances of the ablative case in Latin, the expression does not have a simple translation into English. The root phrase is the adjective flagrāns (flaming or
    blazing) and the noun dēlictum (offence, misdeed or crime). The closest literal translation would be “with the offence blazing”, where “blazing” is a metaphor for vigorous, highly visible action.

    beneficium : boon, reward, wages, bribe, gift, pious donation

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