Susan George: Bankers hide behind complex language

Susan George on "How to win the class war - The Lugano Report II" Part 4
06 December 2013
Multi-media

In the final episode of a series of interviews, Susan George talks about what impact she hopes her latest book, How to win the Class War - The Lugano Report II will have and why avoiding jargon is key to challenging the powerful.

Also watch part 1 (The story behind the book), part 2 (What could people learn from reading the book), and part 3 (In the shoes of the commissioners) of the interview series with Susan George.

What effect do you think this book will have?

Susan George: "You can never foresee what the impact of a book is going to be. That is something you learn much later and, once more, as I said, it takes me about the length of a pregnancy to produce a book.

"A book is also like a child. You don't try to direct it through its entire life like “you've got to be a doctor, you've got to be a lawyer, and you've got to be...”. This doesn't work. It's bad for the child, and it's bad for the parents and, therefore, I just try to do my job as best I can.

"I try to write in a clear way, because I think any other way, using jargon and all of that, excludes people - and I want anybody, I want a grandmother to be able to read what I am writing. I want someone who is not at all in the same field, not doing social sciences at all; I want a hard scientist to be able to read it; and I want a cook, a dishwasher or truck driver to be able to read it!

"I try to use simple language, and if I'm dealing with a concept I try to explain what is the content of it and give it a name and be quite specific and down-to-earth.

 Using jargon excludes people - I want a grandmother to be able to read what I am writing.

Because most things that one wants to hide – that the Davos class, for instance, wants to hide - part of the way they do that is to use very complex language. The bankers, for instance, use very complex language. And when you decode it, it's really quite simple. But you have to get through this forest of vocabulary that is, sort of like parting the fronds off the palms and going through the bush - because they use that kind of language deliberately!

Now I can understand this in medicine, for instance, because it's shorthand. In medicine, you use a particular vocabulary because you have to communicate certain things fast, but you don't have to do that in banking. You really can tell people what it is like and what it really means. In the social sciences, there is far too much jargon, and since I am not a professor, I am not obliged to use that vocabulary.

So people take it, and they run with it and do what they like - or nothing. We'll see..."

"How to win the Class War" is available now at TNI's online bookstore.


Also watch part 1 (The story behind the book), part 2 (What could people learn from reading the book), and part 3 (In the shoes of the commissioners) of the interview series with Susan George.