[...] you don’t support countries which are cooperating with each other; you support ‘South–South cooperation’. An abstraction, where temporality is abolished. ‘The provision of social services and country assessments and action plans which assist in the formulation of poverty reduction policies’, writes the Report for 1990—and the five nominalizations create a sort of simultaneity among a series of actions that are in fact quite distinct from each other. Providing social services (action one) which will assist (two) in formulating policies (three) to reduce poverty (four): doing this will take a very long time. But in the language of the Report, all these steps have contracted into a single policy, which seems to come into being all at once. It’s magic.
And then—the authors of Corpus Linguistics continue—in nominalizations, actions and processes are ‘separated from human participants’: cooperation, not states which cooperate with each other. ‘Pollution, soil erosion, land degradation, deforestation and deterioration of the urban environment’, mourns another recent Report, and the absence of social actors is striking. All these ominous trends—and no one is responsible? ‘Prioritization’ enters the Reports as debt crisis looms; meaning, quite simply, that not all creditors would be treated equally: some would be reimbursed right away, others later; some in full, and others not. Of course, the criteria according to which X would be treated differently from Y had been decided by someone. But prioritization concealed that. Why X and not Y? Because of prioritization. In front of the word, one can no longer see—one can no longer even imagine—a concrete subject engaged in a decision. ‘Rendition’: an American secret agency kidnaps foreign citizens to hand them over to another secret service, in another country, that will torture them. In ‘rendition’, it’s all gone. It’s magic.