Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
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Saturday, February 01, 2003

I Have A Specific Gripe With The Appeasenik Left...


specifically when they say that it is completely unreasonable to expect any form of democracy to rise up in a Post-Saddam Iraq.

Oh sure, you see, they give a couple of reasons: on the one hand they claim that we will simply leave after Saddam is killed, captured, or flees and so a near clone of Saddam will simply rise up in his place; or they say that we will stay but WE will put a near clone; or they simply claim that a nation that has never known Democracy before cannot possibly put it in place successfully, help from us or no.

These are moronically inaccurate assessments. Let us take each one apart in turn

First, Some Other Saddam Rises Up In His Place

First we have to assume that there is another Saddam, or as those moralizing Lefties will tell you with their big saucer round eyes… EVEN WORSE!

Come ON! Let us give the man credit were it is due. Saddam has proved himself to a uniquely vicious and crafty leader. He has been at times part Hitler, part Stalin, and part Gilligan or Hogan's Hero. He can stage a mass murder of his cronies to ensure the loyalty of the rest, he can gas an entire minority population simply because he doesn't like them, and he can craft wars to stay in power.

He is a unique monster. And the chances of someone like him waiting in the wings, so to speak, are even more reduced because HE WOULD NEVER TOLERATE such a man that close to him. No, we are fairly safe in assuming that the likelihood of some "just like him", or "even worse" are slim to none.

But let us assume that somewhere there is another colonel with a bushy mustache and bad hip. Fine. How does he get to office? Lets see the first scenario the Lefties give us is that he simply rises up in the power vacuum and seizes control. Picture any successful invasion and toppling of Saddam.

Or, lets take the Afghan model: We come in with massive air power, let the rebels do the work, and then leave..

So we assume a massive air campaign for several days and then a small ground force moves in and seizes the oil fields and a few key military sites. We support a Kurdish sweep in from the North towards Mosul, Kirkuk, and Saddam's home town of Tekrit and neighboring Sammarra. We also support the Shia minority in the South (with Special Forces, since they have no Kurd style militia) as it rises up and seizes Basra, Sasiriyya, Najaf, and Kerballa. And Saddam's own troops rebel, hang him in front of one of his own massive portraits, and declares Baghdad a "free city".

Ok, so now Iraq is in the hands of two rebel ethnic minorities and a group of Army colonels in the capitol. What do you think will happen next, assuming that there has been only a limited involvement of US ground troops which stick mainly to holding the oil fields and tracking down WMD sites? Obviously anyone associated with power in the Saddam regime will be hunted down, those that don't flee will be killed in the streets, in their offices, or in their homes.

And the new regime? Well, again the nation will be effectively split into three regions, Kurdish Mosul, Shia Basra, and Sunni Baghdad. The Kurds already have an autonomous democracy, with a Prime Minister, and a semblance of an Army, no doubt given a last minute polish by this war. They will continue to hold the North and to exercise a rather benign authority. The Shia south? Well that will be their own experiment, but it couldn't possibly hurt their chances for creating a decent civil state in that there will be a plethora of US troops (and will have had to have had a great deal of assistance from US Spec Forces during the war because they do not have a Kurd style local militia). And around Baghdad? Well I can only imagine the flood of foreign advisers, French, Russia, and the like, who will rush to the capitol following Saddam's ouster.

Or, in the other scenario, where we stay, but WE put in "another Saddam"

Picture a replay of the first half of the Gulf War. Lets say there is a massive US invasion with only a limited use of Kurd and Shia rebels. Lets say there is a siege of Baghdad and some Elite Republican Guardsmen actually fight for a few days?

Well, still, inevitably, the Saddamite resistance will fail, crushed by time and firepower. Saddam will probably go out like Hitler, with cyanide in a bunker or maybe even his own VX gas? Still, the nation falls into the absolute control of the US military.

After all this trouble with Saddam, does anyone REALLY think we would simply put another guy like him in power? Another military man? Not a chance! In fact, it is very, very likely, obviously, that we would follow much the same route as in Afghanistan, finding a non-military man of some local respect as an interim leader, and then directing the Iraqis to reform their society, rebuild any infrastructure damage, and elect a new leader.

As far as economic aide, I realize that Afghanistan hasn't gotten much (from Europe and others, mainly, largely the US has delivered its portion of promised funds), but Iraq is a different egg. Essentially the don't need any economic aid dollars. Really. All they need is the embargo lifted and their economy will take off with a start. Unlike Afghanistan they have working cities, working banks, working markets, etc. Unlike Afghanistan, they have oil. All they need is to be allowed to sell oil and buy goods and they are "good to go".

And it doesn't much matter if the US stays as an occupying force for very long. I realize this goes against conventional wisdom and event he plans of the Bush Administration. But really, if the US actually follows through with the current threats of action with real military force, what post-Saddam regime will forget that? Do we really need to hold their hand after kicking their butt? I don't think so.

Any way you conceive of it, once Saddam falls Iraq will have plenty of opportunity, and military and economic incentive, to join the fold, as it were, and to create a new, reformed, democratic society.

You Say Democracy Cant Work In the Middle East, because they have no experience with this?

For those of you who say "How can they, with out any past experience of this in Iraq, or indeed in the Middle East?!". Well, I would like to point out the obvious to us all. When the 13 colonies revolted against the British Crown they were a first. America had never really experienced Democracy itself. The political rule of the colonies had been that of near absolute monarchy itself.

Think about it, each colony had a Governor General appointed by the Crown of England. This governor exercised absolute authority. In a few of the colonies local assemblies in the counties and towns might have exercised some autonomy. On the other hand, there were no established political parties, and those assemblies that did meet were limited to landed male gentry. Many towns were essentially ruled by the churches or even by one powerful minister.

In the colonies' neighborhood Democracy was also just as unknown. In the French sections of Canada the French Crown exercised much the same rule as the British with appointed absolute rulers. In Mexico the Spanish Empire exercised absolute military control. And in the hinterlands lived a fast multitude of very different native tribes, some of which practiced a democracy of sorts, others of which were organized around a military warrior culture. And back in Europe the only democracy in 1776 was the Swiss federation, itself alternately under the thumb of French military authority. In truth, how does this scenario differ much from that of Iraq today?

In another comparison to the birth of the United States let me point to the role of the French. The French were ruled by an absolute monarch during our entire revolt. This was in itself a tough position for the French Crown to take, siding with subjects against their king. But he did so for the geopolitical gain of applying pressure against his English rivals. And the colonists were in a touch position, taking the assistance of an absolute monarch to support their liberal rebellion, but we took this aide because we needed it.

After our successful revolution the French soon followed suit. And we had no problem allying ourselves with the new French authorities. From both directions, when the French assisted us, and when the French revolted themselves, an argument could be made that the support of the rebels was contrary to past policies of supporting the established regimes. However, at that time, maybe people were better about using their heads to change their minds when their values, new info came in, and geopolitical realities allowed for a change of tune.

In Conclusion

The fact that a people have never yet known successful civilian and democratic rule is no argument for not helping them to a position where they can try it out themselves. Having once helped their tyrant secure his rule over a people is ZERO reason not to see the light, change your ways, and help the people overthrow the tyrant.

The Iraqis deserved to be allowed an opportunity to try REAL democratic self-rule. They may indeed fail, and what would stop us from redeploying troops then? But they have every likely hood of succeeding, as much as we did! And they do have the Kurdish example in the North. At any rate, they deserve to try and we should help them to secure this opportunity.


Sean: Saturday, February 01, 2003 [+] |
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