Current Affairs

The Dictionary of Capitalism

Translating contemporary euphemisms.

As you encounter the world around you, you will hear many words that go undefined. It is the task of Current Affairs to explain these terms in intelligible language, so that readers may perceive the true nature of things.

  • American lives /əˈmɛrɪk(ə)n lʌɪvz/ n. the units by which the human toll of a war is measured.
  • body camera /ˈbɒdi ˈkam(ə)rə/ n. a magic technology capable of turning off whenever a police officer commits a crime.
  • border /ˈbɔːdə/ n. an imaginary line drawn through the world, the crossing of which is met with violence on behalf of those who may live thousands of miles away from the line.
  • charity /ˈtʃarɪti/ n. organization that attempts to partially compensate for capitalism’s failures.
  • charter school /ˈtʃɑːtəskuːl/ n. a school that insists it can provide better education than a public school because the people who run it are not accountable to anyone.
  • corporation /kɔːpəˈreɪʃ(ə)n/ n. a collectivist enterprise in which all power is vested in a small number of central planning bureaucrats at the top and the individual must surrender their autonomy to serve the interests of the planning authority.
  • death tax /dɛθ taks/ n. when, upon a person becoming deceased, the state declines to transfer that person’s accumulated freedom-unit score to a different, arbitrary person who did not earn those freedom-units.
  • disruption /dɪsˈrʌpʃn/ n. changing an industry standard by finding ways to pay people less for their labor.
  • education /ɛdjʊˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/ n. the process of being filtered for employment based on one’s pliability and deference.
  • employment /ɪmˈplɔɪm(ə)nt/ n. being granted permission to continue living in exchange for an adjustable daily quantity of toil.
  • entitlements /ɪnˈtʌɪt(ə)lmənts/ n. small increases in the freedom-units afforded to the elderly, sick, and those who have too few units to survive.
  • eviction /ɪˈvɪkʃ(ə)n/ n. forcible removal from one’s home for failure to provide the appropriate lord with sufficient tribute.
  • fighter plane /ˈfʌɪtə pleɪn/ n. a plane that fights other planes to the death.
  • fiscal responsibility /ˈfɪsk(ə)l rɪˌspɒnsɪˈbɪlɪti/ n. only spending money on things that kill people.
  • food stamps /fuːd stamp/ n. a system by which the poor must humiliate themselves on a six-monthly or yearly basis in order to buy a tiny amount of food they will be shamed for possessing. (Use of the stamp for lobster will result in congressional hearings.)

This plane fights planes
  • fossil fuel /ˈfɒs(ə)l fjuː(ə)l/ n. a suicide pill; brings gratification of immediate pleasures but causes death to one’s self and one’s offspring.
  • genocide /ˈdʒɛnəsʌɪd/ n. something white people fear will happen to them; all other uses are disputed.
  • health insurance board of directors /hɛlθ ɪnˈʃʊər(ə)ns bɔːd (ə)v dʌɪˈrɛktəs/ n. death panel.
  • homeless person /ˈhəʊmlɪs ˈpəːs(ə)n/ n. a person we are choosing not to house in any of the X million properties currently empty.
  • journalist /ˈdʒəːn(ə)lɪst/ n. a transcriptionist used by anonymous state officials to nudge public opinion in an appropriate direction.
  • landlord /ˈlan(d)lɔːd/ n. precisely what it sounds like: The feudal ruler of a plot of land, entitled to extract wealth from all inhabitants.
  • limited government /ˈlɪmɪtɪd ˈɡʌv(ə)nˌm(ə)nt/ n. government that restricts its role only to taking care of rich people.
  • lobster /ˈlɒbstə/ n. a delicacy forbidden to those below a certain annual threshold of freedom-units.
  • loiter /ˈlɔɪtə/ v. to exist in a space without spending money.
  • merit-based immigration /ˈmɛrɪt beɪsd ɪmɪˈɡreɪʃn/ n.a system of eugenics by which the elderly and sick are excluded from crossing geographic lines.

A forbidden delicacy
  • meritocracy /ˌmɛrɪˈtɒkrəsi/ n. a system by which those who possess certain arbitrary qualities are granted greater positive freedom. The intended arbitrary qualities are mathematical and argumentative aptitude, though in practice the arbitrary quality is usually preexisting possession of positive freedom as measured in money. 
  • military /ˈmɪlɪt(ə)ri/ n. an institution whose sole purpose is awaiting permission to liquidate large numbers of human beings.
  • money /ˈmʌni/ n. a freedom-unit; the imaginary scorekeeping measure by which your freedom to do things is tracked.
  • national defense /ˈnaʃ(ə)n(ə)l  dəˈfɛns/ n. bombing the weddings of rural poor people thousands of miles away.
  • nationality /naʃəˈnalɪti/ n. a lottery system in which the winner is determined not by which numbers you pick, but where your head first emerged from a vagina.
  • open borders /ˈəʊp(ə)n ˈbɔːdəs/ n. the treating of imaginary lines between nations as comparable to imaginary lines between U.S. states.
  • police officer /pəˈliːs ˈɒfɪsə/ n. particular class of person who is legally allowed to kill you if they claim to experience any sort of anxiety upon seeing you.
  • privatization /prʌɪvətʌɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/ n. the process by which control of an institution is passed from the population at large to unaccountable central planning bureaucrats.
  • property /ˈprɒpəti/ n. the set of objects in the world that you are allowed to have people kidnapped for using without asking you. Because there was no justification for dividing the world into sets of owned things in the first place, property is widely understood to be theft. 
  • reparations /ˌrɛpəˈreɪʃ(ə)n/ n. proposed readjustment of freedom-unit score to adjust for erroneous and malicious racial distribution error that persisted for centuries and continues to warp and render dysfunctional the entire freedom distribution system.
  • self-regulation /sɛlf rɛɡjʊˈleɪʃ(ə)n/ n. the absence of regulation.
  • tax credit /taks ˈkrɛdɪt/ n. a once-a-year return of a tiny amount of a poor citizen’s freedom-units.
  • tax cuts /taks kʌts/ n. cutting the services we used to pay for with taxes.
  • teacher shortage /ˈtiːtʃə ˈʃɔːtɪdʒ/ n. the unwillingness of a state to pay the market wage for school instruction.
  • United States Constitution /juːˈnʌɪtɪd steɪt kɒnstɪˈtjuːʃ(ə)n/ n. the wellspring of democracy. A set of absolute rules that govern those who were excluded from the drafting of those rules.
  • vocation /və(ʊ)ˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/ n. a job where it is okay for the standards of pay and quality of life to be as low as possible, because the employees theoretically enjoy what they do.
  • voter registration /ˈvəʊtə rɛdʒɪˈstreɪʃ(ə)n/ n. an obstacle to voting dropped in the path of people you’d rather didn’t vote.
  • war /wɔː/ n. a process by which people are ordered by their institutions to fight one another to the death.

The Dictionary as a PDF:

If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our magnificent print edition or making a donation. Current Affairs is 100% reader-supported.

More In: Frivolity & Amusement

Cover of latest issue of print magazine

Announcing Our Newest Issue


Our eclectic and verdant rainforest issue!

The Latest From Current Affairs