Adel (edel): How the ruling class corrupts language

‘What is good?’ asked Plato, ventriloquizing through Socrates. By that he meant: how do we characterise a wealthy, noble, ruling class male?

So also with a word like German Adel (edel). As the Germans around me point out, the word means aristocracy or nobility. But it is also very closely tied up with what is pure, precious, fine, gallant, beautiful and … of course, good.

Needless to say, the ruling class is hardly good, beautiful, precious or pure. As Jerome put it: a rich man is either a thief or the son of a thief. So it looks like a massive appropriation and corruption of a whole vocabulary, a seizure much like the seizure of the state in the first place.

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