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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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Its All About Oil...

Let me show you under the Euro rug, will yah? I have been tooling around Ireland now for a week and already I have seen some dirt poking out from the tassles. It goes something like this...

Ireland is awash in money and debt right now. Basically they are still in the internet and high tech bubble boom that the US just left. They took 10 years of EU subsidies and built high speed data lines to the US and Europe. Then they educated all there kids to college level, including multiple foregin languages. Then they sold their children's labor for cheap to high tech, banks, and insurance companies to service Europe and the US.

Now they all have jobs and decent, study pay. So they all took out loans for new cars and houses. Now the countryside is filling up with tract homes (all be it pretty ones made of stone) and the roads are all filled with new BMW's, Renaults, and, dredfully, SUV's. Talk about roads, every one has a death toll listed, and every one is thusly being widened or having a "flyway" added. The scent of exhaust, mortar, and pavement is now the national cologne.

One advantage of having been poor for so long is that they never really industrialized before now. They dont have the American effect where some towns have state of the art turn of the century 2000 plumbing, some 1900, and some 1800. Rather, the entire nation is comming into money now, all at once. And the entire island is being modernized "all of a piece". The net effect is that everything feels slick and modern, from Dublin to the smallest beack town. Even the smallest pub has automatic flushers and electric hand dryers. Everyone has a cell phone, even if, especially if, they dont have a land line. And all the clothes are the latest fashion, and so are the cars. It has the effect of showing an American what England could be like if it were all done up to three star standard, in even the smallest of towns. Or, alternatively, what the US could be like if it were given large sums of cash by aliens and the auto had been kept at bay till yesterday. It truly is something astounding!

But the other side of this is HYPOCRACY! Rampant. While watching the local news and TV, from Ireland and federal Europe, I have been struck over and over by how the rhetoric doesnt match the actions here. Let me explain:

I was at a discotech in Kilkenny. It was very nice, slick even, but with the "class" that comes from the decor beng made of plaster and stone long ago, and not from plastic and concrete by Disney* yesterday. The hotel was a turn of last, last century manor house. They had converted a beatiful Empire era ballroom into an ultra hip, Euro-modern, dance club.

All the kids wore levis and dress shirts with the sleave cuffs undone. They all sported close cropped hair cuts and some light facial hair. The ladies all wore low-low cut hip hugger pants and drop neck tops. Big earings and heavy make up were the rage. And EVERYONE had a cell phone. Their fingers played the touch type text dance the entire time they shuffled their feet a swung their butts to the Village People and Snoop and Pink and...

Let me remind you that they all arrived in brand new SUV's, burning Texaco gas, and they all paid Your O's deducted from VISA accounts via ATM's for every drink.

Amongst all this glit and glammor is this thought... nearly all their clothes, jewelry, watches, and phones were made of plastic, an oil based substance. They arrived in plastic cars driven by petrol. They wore oil based make up. They listened to the latest American pop, disco, and classic rock. They watch The West Wing and 24 on TV. And they will all be in the theatres for Daredevil next week. They all work for Eli Lilly and Intel. And of course, they all speak English.

These are Americans.

Do you follow my drift? These people are living the "The American Dream". They have a college education, health care, and jobs at American companies. They all have a ranch house in the suburbs and drive an SUV, the station wagon of the 21st century. They wear Levis and listen to Britney Spears. They watch our cinema and TV. Heck, they even follow American politics as closely as their own -or at least as closely as we do. They also made lots of money off the stock market. And they take full advantage of living on the fringe of a Europe gaurded by the US Army and rebuilt US dollars.

To take this more literaly, Ireland is free from Britain today in large part due to arms, money, and poltical support from America, supplied via the Finnians, Clan Ne Gael, small parishes from Boston, NY, Philly, Chicago, and San Francisco, and the White House. But they seem oblivious, indeed, I doubt their schools even teach them any sense that they owe ANYONE for what they have today. I am sure, in fact that they teach their kids that they made this all happen by their own effort and intellegence - not that I wish to take anything away from these people, California has squandered more than a little Federal assistance and forieng dollars and have come up with little to show for it. But the truth remains that these people, as with the whole of Europe, live an American lifestyle bought and paid for by American tax dollars and protected by the US Army.

Meanwhile, as we line up to die in the dessert to move another chapter in the war against Islamic facism and they bombers they bread... we have to gaurantee again and again that French-Iraqi oil deals will be honored after the war. We have to assure the EU that they will be major players in a "New Iraq". And yet still, "Old Europe" pokes their finger in the eyes of the West and says "cant you all just get along?" All the while they ignore the suffering of innocenct Iraqis, Afghans, etc... while dancing to the Divas in the discos. When Europe does pay attention to us all they merely blather on about "unsophisticated Americans" and the war monger in the White house. When faced with a statement about Saddam's brutality they glibly agree, yes yes, "but it is all about oil" and "daddy being shot at".

Well, I have news for Europe.

It is all about oil. Your oil. The US gets only 1/4 of its oil from the Gulf. None of it from Iraq, almost all from Saudi Arabia and the emirates of the gulf. But most US oil comes from Alaska, Texas, California, Mexico, and Venesuala. We also buy about as much from the British in the North Sea as we do from the Gulf. On the other hand, Europe gets a MAJORITY, about 90%, of its oil from Iran and Iraq.

And it is also about imperialism. European imperialism. Let me remind everyone that the Shaw of Iran got his start as the pawn of the British Empire, not the US. And Iraq is a British imperial creation, three states forced together and a phoney king propped up on a throne by the British RAF and Navy. We can also thank Britain for Jordan and Israel and the ongoing "Palestinian problem". Heck Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emerates, Egypt, and the Suddan all have Independence Day marked on their calenders. From whom? Why, from the Brits of course. Add to this list Afghanistan. Then we have the French fiefdoms of Syria, Lebannon, Algeria, and Sierra Leon. For fun, look up the recent history of all these lands and you will find nothing but bloodshed and violence.

Now look up US involvement. We are guilty of only one thing, being last to the table. In an attempt to hold together the mess of European imperialism against a Soviet threat, we ended up propping up a series of their pseudo states and other players. Whether it be our support for the Mujadeen, the Shaw, or Iraq and Egypt, even Israel, we got involved in this part of the world because Russia had its eyes on it all and Europe was unable, or unwilling, to defend and manage its client states. And control of the oil of this region was indeed vital to the defense of Western Europe, and the "Free World," both ourselves and the Russians knew this.

Another major force that drew us into this part of the world was continued, bungled European imperialism. Such as the British and French attempt to use Israel to invade and hold the Suez Canal. We had to step in and force Israel to give the Egyptians back the Sanai. In fact, we STILL guard the Egyptian border from the/for the Israelis. And we give Egypt and Jordan as much economic aid, $2billion, as we do Israel.

So, I am dammed enough tired of hearing rich, over sophisticated (read: snobish and boring) Europeans telling us knowingly that "it is all about oil," or imperialism, or American war mongering. America has always been a bit player in these arenas, compared to our European cousins

* that is to say that it is not class at all. These people simply dont every tear anything down. I have passed farms where a succession of identical four-square farm houses have been built in a row along the road. When one building fails they build another, and let the old one dilapidate. Well, if you restore, or upkeep, an old building here you get what Americans think of classy old world "style". We value these ever so more because they are "authentic", having been built as they were when they were, not after the fact. But what we dont realize is that it takes very little effort, or intent, by the Euros to have these buildings. Simply put, this is what they have, they have it because it is here. And in fact, when these buildings were originally built they may well have had all the "class" of a post-war ranch house in the States, I am sure that many Parisians considered the Louvre to be tacky and too "new". In fact, when we think of the Old World buildings, architecture, and food, covetously, as "classy", we are mistaken, it often literaly is trash, old rubbish, kept up to use as best as they can because they cannot think of, or afford, anything new. Add to this that European snobbery, cynicism, and post-modern psuedo-intellectualism tends to deconstruct and undermine anything fresh and new that they do come up with. Oddly, I begin to grow an appreciation for brash (read: honest) North American modernism, even as I admire the old world "charm" here.

Sean: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 [+] |
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