The Discursive Construction of a Nation’s “Enemies”. Linguistic Strategies Aimed at Manipulating Co-Nationals. A Romanian Case.


Author: Cristina Vâlcea (Transilvania of Brașov University, Romania)
Speaker: Cristina Vâlcea
Topic: Critical Linguistic Anthropology
COMELA 2021 General Session


Abstract

Authoritarian political leaders, with a view to defending their autocrat regimes, construct a discourse in which they identify the enemy that hinders their regime from offering the population “the promised land”. The creation, justification and support of the “enemy” discourse is meant to overshadow the continual violation of the state and ceaseless breaking of the rule of law. The “enemy” discourse is aimed at diverging public attention from the real problems of the society to an enemy that does not refrain from anything when it comes to destroying the reputation of certain political leaders.  The existence of an external “enemy” is a sustainable choice for a nationalist leader who avoids identifying internal enemies as his co-nationals, similar in character to his own, would not attack the worthy leader. In fact, this article analyzes the public discourses of the political leaders of the ruling party in Romania, the Social-Democrat Party (PSD) in the period 2017 – 2019 when the rule of law was severely abused by gross changes brought to the penal law in defence of perpetrators. The enemy identified in the person of the Hungarian-American investor, philanthropist, George Soros, was the Other, the one who opposed the legitimate softening of laws to the advantage of perpetrators. The frequent mentions of Soros will be analyzed from a post-structuralist perspective which is aimed at capturing regularities of meaning or patterns in language use as they are ‘constitutive of discourses and to show how discourses in turn constitute aspects of society and the people within it’ (Taylor 2001: 9). While analyzing the identity of Soros as constructed by Romanian political communicators, there will be a chance at outlining the identity of the Romanian politicians as it was meant by them because, as Herschinger (2011, 1) puts it, the Other is defined in opposition to the construction of the Self. Equally, the analytical framework will be extended by CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis) given the fact that it is meant to analyze the particularities of political discourse.

References:
Fairclough, I. & Fairclough, N. (2012) Political Discourse Analysis. Oxon: Routledge.
Herschinger, E. (2011) Constructing global enemies: Hegemony and Identity in International Discourses on Terrorism and Drug Prohibition. Oxon: Routledge.
Wodak, R. & de Cillia, R. & Reisigl, M. & Liebhart, K.(eds.) (2009) The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.
Wodak, R. (1988) Language, Power and Ideology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Keywords: discourse, enemy, nationalism, post-structuralism, CDA