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attack and defense

The ontological metaphor of attack and defense must be invoked only with extreme care to avoid conflict escalation. In politics and law it is far preferable to refer to prosecution and defense, so as to invoke the different metaphors of rule of law.

The word attack, in correct English usage, means an effort to do harm to the target. It refers to intent and is not generally cognizant of the circumstances that apply that motivate it. For instance an attack may be part of an overall strategy of defense in which the attack is of much lower magnitude than the attacks against which the defense is mounted.

For instance, if a person reaches up to someone's ear and rips it fully off their head, throwing it away, we would be inclined to believe that this is an "attack" of a particularly violent kind. However, if we realize that this only requires approximately 10 kilos of force, and further that ears can be reattached fairly easily, and that the person doing this was a woman being raped by a man whose ear she ripped off, we see the "attack" in an entirely different light, and probably support it. This technique is in fact a standard one taught to women in self-defense classes.

Blindness to various forms of attack on bodies built into social structures tend to be reflected in language. Various assumptions of corporatism, capitalism and socialism are reflected in the generally improper use of the word attack to mean "do harm to someone's reputation" or "do harm to someone's wealth" and other absolutely improper abuses of the word "harm".

To comprehend why these uses are not just ontologically but morally wrong, one must consider the power relations by which "harm" is being done daily to the person who is responding to the harm, possibly by pointing out errors or corruption of those doing the harm.

It is improper for instance to refer to a "personal attack" in any context in which it is a person's acts in a position of authority which are being challenged. A ruling temporal authority's very existence is a daily attack on all persons who bodies are subject to their rule. That is, the state is always attacking its subjects, that is its function and it cannot do otherwise. Accordingly any assertion that a figure granted violent power by the state is not doing so properly cannot under any definition be an attack - it is by definition a defense.

In a partisan situation such as an election campaign it is proper to refer to attack and defense since a representative democracy in which political party activists contend is actually a simulation of war. In that context and only in that context:

Any attack on the party, candidates or positions taken by either should be dealt with by the war room if the election protocol is in effect. If not, it may often be ignored, unless it is on the Leader or Issue Advocates or a major party strategic priority - see position protocol.

A Green Party of Canada example: Stew Sinclair on attacks from NDP supporters, which outlines the rationale for such response or lack of it as part of an overall campaign strategy.